Elder John Slate Mace

by Jill Morgan

Elder John Slate Mace, missionary, buried in Leeds
John Mace Photograph: www.familysearch.org
John Mace Photograph: www.familysearch.org

In 1892 the Millennial Star published a Roll of Honor, listing missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who had died while serving up to that time. Among those was Elder John Mace, who died of bronchitis in Leeds on January 19th 1869.

Born in Stockport, Cheshire, in 1806, John Mace was the son of Willam Mace and Frances (Fanny) Slate. He was baptized into the Church in 1842 but it would be 1865 before he emigrated to Utah, traveling across the American plains in the William S.S. Willes company. His wife Harriet didn’t emigrate with him, choosing to wait until he had procured a proper house for them in Utah Territory. They were no longer young, Salt Lake City was well established by then and the Transcontinental Railroad was nearing completion, so she may well have anticipated returning with John at the end of his mission, crossing the plains by steam rather than wagon train.

Harriet Mace Photograph www.familysearch.org
Harriet Mace (nee Frost, 1807-1870).

John and Harriet can be seen in the 1841 census in Tintwistle, Cheshire, with four of their children. The 1851 census shows the family (then with six children and a son-in-law) some five miles away in Stayley. John and Harriet with their daughter Sarah are listed in the Mottram LDS branch records, Mottram being just a few miles from, and within the parish of Stayley. Harriet had been baptized shortly after John, in 1843. Their daughter Emma was baptized in 1854 (age 9); Caroline in 1861 (age 19); and George in 1865 (age 16, and just before his father left for America).  And according to a family history, Harriet and John were called to serve as local missionaries for the Church before he emigrated. The family was clearly committed to the restored gospel.

When John Mace was set apart to return to the British Isles as a missionary – just two years after his arrival in Utah - he was told that part of his mission was to bring his family (some of whom were not LDS) to Zion. His brother Thomas had been baptized in 1857, but Thomas’ wife Eliza and three of their children weren’t baptized until John was among them on his mission. They subsequently emigrated and settled in Sandy, Utah. Four of John and Harriet’s children are also known to have emigrated – three to Utah, one to Ohio, so this purpose was certainly achieved, despite John’s death in Leeds.

This notice of his death appeared in the Deseret News of 17 March 1869. Deseret News
This notice of his death appeared in the Deseret News of 17 March 1869.
It was taken from a slightly more detailed notice in the Millennial Star of 6 February that year: Millennial Star
It was taken from a slightly more detailed notice in the Millennial Star of 6 February 1869
Harriet Mace (front right) Photograph: www.familysearch.org
Harriet Mace (front right) and three of her daughters: L to R in the back Sarah and Caroline, Emma at front left.

Although one of John’s purposes in coming to the British Isles as a proselyting missionary was also to take Harriet back to America with him, she never did emigrate. She died the following year (1 Nov 1870) in Leeds.

John Mace was buried in the Leeds General Cemetery, now known as St George’s Field and used as a public green space. A number of headstones can still be seen around the central Cemetery Chapel, and along the pathways and walls of the cemetery. Located in the Woodhouse area of Leeds it is also sometimes referred to as Woodhouse Cemetery, but being surrounded by various buildings which house the University of Leeds it essentially forms part of the university campus.

Over the years the original paths which divided the cemetery have been changed, making location of specific graves difficult. However, a plan of the cemetery shows that plot 6209 where John Mace is buried lies in the southeast quarter, some two-thirds along a direct line between the cemetery Lodge (on the north side) and the southeast corner. The picture below was taken from the Lodge looking past the Chapel towards that corner. Harriet is buried in the same cemetery, not with her husband but with one of their grandchildren who died as a toddler. Their graves may now be un-marked and unnoticed, as is true of so many faithful church members, but they had clearly completed their mission on earth and now rest in the Lord.

Note: The burial records for Leeds General Cemetery can be viewed online through the Leeds University Library Special Collections, at: https://library.leeds.ac.uk/special-collections