Sea Journeys

Mormons who Begin Journeys II: 40 Rooms with Staff and Servants

Let me introduce you to Harry McCune who may fill in some blanks on our Elam Luddington’s three year South Asian journey.  Harry, a young British lad of 17 lived in a bungalow of 40 rooms with a staff of servants in the heat and congestion of Calcutta in the late 1850s.

Their comments and the pamphlets they left would change the course of Harry McCune’s life

He survived his sister who died soon after birth and another brother who died from a mad dog bite.  He also survived the Asiatic cholera which killed hundreds of English including his two brothers.  Harry, however, would live to age 84 and die in Salt Lake City, Utah.

His father Matthew, an officer in the British Royal Army, arrived in India with his new wife by sail boat in the mid 1830s before there were steam ships.  They threw merry parties in their lovely home hosting young British soldiers and talking late into the nights on a range of topics.

It was at one of these parties where the conversation turned to religion in their small circle they called the Plymouth Brethren associated with the Baptist Church of India.  A couple of eighteen year old adventure sailors, Benjamin Riches and George Barber, stopping at the Calcutta port on their way back from Singapore heading to London were in the circle that night.

Their comments and the pamphlets they left would change the course of Matthew McCune’s life and his son Harry’s life and the rest of the family and some of their friends.  George and Benjamin had just become Mormon in London before they shipped out.  They were about to begin a journey they thought would be just another seafaring voyage and so it was.  But they also inadvertently became missionaries, too.  They were likely surprised at converting others as much as they were surprised to be converted themselves.  In George’s words,

“Through my acquaintance with Miss M A Wingfield who had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of [Latter-day] Saints the Gospel by her was introduced to us and strange and marvellous [as] it now appears both Benjamin and myself was [impressed] with the Truth of the same and about 3 weeks after was bapized in London on the 3 day of IS by Elder H. Savage.”

(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives, Joel E. RicksCache Valley History Collection, COLL MSS 46, Folder 14, Page 4)

Matthew and Harry McCune would now cross paths with Elam Luddington on his sea voyage.  Elam’s purpose was missionary work but it may have been more seafaring adventure less missionary work than George Barber’s.

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6 Responses to Mormons who Begin Journeys II: 40 Rooms with Staff and Servants

  1. Sandra Brimhall 27 April 2014 at 12:26 am #

    I am a descendant of Matthew McCune. Can you tell me where I could find a copy of George Barber’s journal? Thanks!

  2. Mary Riches Figueras 11 January 2013 at 3:41 am #

    Hello, just trying to straighten out some records. The Benjamin Richey refered to as the 18 year old sailors is actually Benjamin Riches. One source has it as Richey and some other versions that have since been picked up. But it is actually Riches. Both Benjamin and George Barber ended up in Nephi Utah along with the McCunes.

    • admin 13 February 2013 at 5:15 pm #

      Hi Mary. Yes, thank you. I went back to my source material and I have the journal of George Barber who talks about the Riches family. I will make that change.

      • Sandra Brimhall 27 April 2014 at 12:25 am #

        I am a descendant of Matthew McCune and I would like very much to read the journal of George Barber. Can you tell me where I can find a copy?


        • admin 27 April 2014 at 3:23 am #

          Sandra, I have just sent you an email. I also wanted to share with those who are interested two books that contextualize the experience of the British in India. Sahib: The British Soldier in India by Richard Holmes and The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj by David Gilmour.

          • River 9 January 2017 at 2:26 am #

            kalo di negara maju, di shopping, train terminal dan airport, pasti ada yg namanya &#rn;022u8sing room”. Tempat seperti ini ada tempat duduk nyaman untuk ibu menyusui, baik botol ataupun ASI. Ada meja tempat ganti diaper, dan tong sampah bertutup supaya diaper kotor tidak bau. Ada washtafel yang bentuknya rada kotak buat cuci tangan dan kalau perlu cebokin bayi. Tissuenya juga tissue basah, bukan toilet paper yang hancur kena air.

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