License for Frederick G. Williams, 25 February 1834
License, , Geauga Co., OH, for , 25 Feb. 1834; printed form with additions in handwriting of ; signatures of JS and ; one page; CHL.
Single leaf measuring 5⅛ × 6⅛ inches (13 × 16 cm). The form bears a printed decorative border. The folds of the document have weakened over time, leading to tearing and holes. The document underwent conservation efforts in February 1994, shortly after descendants of donated it to the Church History Department.
On 24 February 1834, JS dictated a revelation appointing to accompany on a mission to recruit men and raise funds for the expedition to . The featured here was issued to Frederick G. Williams the following day. No minutes from the 25 February 1834 meeting in which the license was issued have been located.
While the document identifies itself as a “letter of commendation,” documents with similar language were later issued and recognized as official licenses. The church’s founding “Articles and Covenants” required that , , , and have licenses to perform their duties. The language used in ’s license reflects language used in the Articles and Covenants regarding licenses.
had been issued a similar license on 20 March 1833, shortly after being “to the .” While that license was issued to certify Williams’s ordination and his authority “to preside over the affairs of the Church,” this elder’s license certified Williams’s authority “to preach the gospel, and act in all [th]e ordinances of the house of the Lord”—a probable reference to the various duties that pertained specifically to the office of elder, to which Williams had been ordained in November 1830. Williams had been ordained a in October 1831 but continued to have “authority to officiate in all the lesser offices” of the priesthood when necessary, provided, evidently, that he was properly licensed to do so.
This license is a printed form, with the name of the individual, the date, and the names of the clerk and moderator filled out by hand. It is one of the earliest printed licenses known to have been issued in the ; previously, licenses were handwritten. In comparison to earlier licenses, this printed form is longer but incorporates much of the same language.
A document employing essentially the same language as this one, for example, was issued to Daniel Kent on 20 September 1836. On the back of Kent’s license was an endorsement made by clerk Thomas Burdick. (Elder’s Certificate for Daniel Kent, 20 Sept. 1836, CHL.)
Elder’s Certificate for Daniel Kent, 20 Sept. 1836. CHL. MS 20640.
THIS Ce[r]tifies, that , has been received into this , organized on the sixth of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred, and thirty; and has been an according to the rules and regulations of said church, and is duly authorized to preach the gospel, and act in all [th]e of the , agreeably to the authority of that office.
From the satisfactory evidence which we have of his good moral character, and his zeal for the cause of righteousness, and diligent desire to persuade men to forsake evil and embrace truth, we confidently recommend him to all candid and upright people, in every country where he may be permitted to travel, in the order of Divine providence, as a worthy member of society; being sent from the bosom of this church to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation to mankind.
We, therefore, in the name, and by the authority of this church, grant unto this, our worthy brother in the Lord, this letter of commendation as a proof of our fellowship and esteem: praying for his success and prosperity in our Redeemer’s cause.
Given in, and by the direction of a of the elders of this church, assembled in , Geauga county, Ohio, this 25th day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand, eight hundred, and thirty four.