News Release

Early Mormon History in Wales

Many view The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an American-born religion, but its history has deep ties with the United Kingdom.

In a recent interview, Cwmbran resident David Forward told the story of his ancestry and the influence the Mormon faith has had on his family – past and present.

On 21 July 1866, James and Ann Pitman were baptised by a Mormon friend in Wales. In 1877, the Pitmans immigrated to the United States with their two sons to join the Mormon settlement of Utah. They left their daughter and son-in-law, Ellen and Thomas Biggs, who remained in Wales.

The family were miners, and upon arrival in Utah the Pitman sons found jobs mining in Scofield. In 1900 there was a great mine disaster where the Pitman men were killed. Hearing of this tragedy, Ellen Biggs discouraged further immigration by the rest of her family.

“What it did to my grandmother was that it put – not a barrier between the Church and God – but a barrier between America and Britain. She was not going to allow her children as miners to go over there to work. She didn’t want to lose them,” says William Forward, the grandson of Thomas and Ellen Biggs.

The Biggs continued to raise their children in the Mormon faith and now, generations later, their descendants continue the tradition of belief.

The stories of these and many other early Mormon converts will be told this summer through a stage production in Chorley.

The British Pageant, a musical experience that tells the history of the Mormon faith in the British Isles, was first produced in 2013 and returns to the United Kingdom this summer.

“As you watch this film and the Pageant this year, I hope that you are able to see that the people of Wales have been able to contribute to the building of the Church here in the UK and in America,” says David Forward, the son of William Forward and a descendant of the early Welsh converts.

The British Pageant will be performed 1-5 and 8-12 August 2017 and is free to the public. Visit for more details.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.