Stones and Bones Cast in a Welsh Village

by Gary R. Williams

Stones and Bones Cast in a Welsh Village

It was 1844. John Price and his young friend crept to a riverbank in Monmouthshire to spy on a baptismal meeting. Their plan was to throw stones at the “Mormon” missionaries and break up the meeting. As they waited for the right moment, they watched the gathering sing, pray, and share the Gospel. After witnessing the proceedings, John’s friend confided that he could not throw the stones. Neither could John. In the space of that meeting, John’s heart was forever changed. Within weeks he was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Three years later, while serving as a missionary in Pembrokeshire, Elder John Price would himself become the target of thrown stones. John hoped for success in Little Newcastle, a rural Welsh farming village. But, each time someone showed interest in the Elders’ message, neighbors would step in to discourage, harass and obstruct. Stones were thrown at John and his companions many times in Little Newcastle; guns were fired in their direction. He complained, “I preached there several times…and was always treated with the greatest indignity.”[i]

Perhaps the most unusual attempt to impede missionary work occurred one night in the autumn of 1847. While the Elders were teaching at a cottage in Little Newcastle, someone climbed on the roof and tossed a horse’s rotting legbone down the chimney, “filling the house with smoke, dust and soot.” After describing the incident in his journal, Elder Price added, “and so proud were they of their sport they published in the news.” Sure enough, a satirical story published in the Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser on October 15, 1847, comically described the legbone incident. The event was colourfully attributed to urchins who climbed on the roof and dropped “some carrion bones, of not the most savory description, thereby alarming the congregation, [and] concluding the discourse….”[ii]

It was not unusual for the Elders to have suffered a little persecution in Little Newcastle; what was remarkable is that they kept coming back--again and again. After the legbone incident, John Price declared he had given up on Little Newcastle, lamenting, “after trying to save them till I was wearied I left them to their fate and went in search of a people who would hear and obey the Gospel.” Yet, despite John’s weariness, he did return to Little Newcastle with Elders John Davies and John Evans the following spring. They taught in the open air because no one would allow the Elders to teach in their homes.

One of their listeners was 15 year-old David John, who recalled, “[t]heir preaching had a great effect upon my mind, I believed their doctrine when I first heard it.”[iii] David continued to seek out the missionaries and was baptized months later without his parents’ knowledge. But, upon discovering David’s baptism, his parents barred him from ever attending their meetings again.

In the eyes of the Elders, the Restored Gospel never seemed to take hold in Little Newcastle. But, John Price and his companions had not yet seen all the fruits of their labours. The testimony of the boy--whose parents barred him from uniting with the Saints--would grow, not fade. By 1856, David John would himself serve a mission in Wales and England, where he too experienced both thrown stones and missionary success. He would cross an ocean and a continent to gather with the Saints, and return to Wales for a second mission. Thousands of David John’s descendants would enjoy the blessings of the Restored Gospel. Much good can be traced to the remarkable persistence of Elder John Price and his companions in the face of persecution.

[i] John Price Diaries, 1846-1853, Little Newcastle references on pages 21-22, 42-45, Church History Library, Call No. MS 8913, available online at

[ii] Available online at web|url=|title=PEMBROKEPETTYSESSIONS - The Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser|date=1847-10-15|accessdate=2023-03-18|publisher=Joseph Potter

[iii] David John Diaries, Vol.1, 1856-1908, pages 13-14 (digital pp. 10-11), BYU Library Special Collections, Call No. MSS 21, available online at