Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy 209th Birthday, Jane Thorne Golightly (1802-1867)!

Gawain Wells' second-great-grandmother

Jane has been a bit of a quest for me this year, as I've researched her and put up a headstone in her honor.  I was amused to discover that she made herself three years younger once in America.  And her husband the baker has a fascinating story!

Jane Thorne was raised in England as the seventh of ninth children in a working-class family, and her brother David was remembered for his unusually large stature, so she may have been quite tall.

In her late twenties, Jane gave birth illegitimately to her daughter Ann.  Jane is listed as a spinster in the parish record, with no father identified.  Of twenty or so births in the parish of Aston Rowant that year, Ann was one of two illegitimate babies. Years later, a Thomas Thorn was named as Ann’s father.  Jane had a deceased brother by that name, and may have chosen it because it was familiar and came to mind, or perhaps that was the truth.

The Thorne family learned of the gospel, and Jane’s brother David and his family converted and emigrated.  Middle-aged Jane was baptized two years prior to her daughter, and after Annie was baptized, the women came to Utah.  They may have sailed on the ship Horizon with others in the same wagon company.  Jane and Annie traveled west in the same company as Marjorie Hinckley’s grandmother Mary Goble Pay, who mentioned them in a letter years later.  Mary said that a man died in the company and his watch was given to “his sister, Bishop Wells’ wife Anna’s mother” (Jane).  (This was not actually Jane’s brother, but her deceased brother’s friend Jonathan Stone.)  The company struggled with hardships due to the late season of travel and fierce winter weather.

In Salt Lake, Jane married a fellow British emigrant, Richard Golightly, as his fourth wife, only a decade before her death.  The journey took years off her life, as she appears in Utah records to have been born in 1805 instead of 1802.

Richard Golightly had an interesting conversion story.  He was a famous baker in England: Queen Victoria was said to have ordered from his bakery and it had a reputation for a hundred miles around.  Richard and his first wife Isabella had a dozen children when he converted to the Church. Isabella was opposed, but Richard was determined to go to America.  One night be tied his clothes in his wife’s best sheet, and left home at two in the morning.

Richard Golightly c. 1860s
 in his Nauvoo brass band uniform
Isabella hired a detective who watched every boat that sailed for a week, but Richard spent that week hiding out with a friend and every night disguised himself and passed his bakery to get one more glance at his wife and children.  At last he left, and came to Utah.  In Salt Lake, Richard founded the Globe Bakery and married another wife.  This bakery was well-known and provided baked goods to many Church leaders downtown.  Back in England, Isabella sold the bakery and made preparations to join her husband.  After a very arduous trip, she arrived in Utah only to discover that Richard had a new wife.  Isabella never recovered from this shock at the end of the hard journey.  However, Richard made a home for his first family, and Isabella was baptized and then cared for by the second wife before her death the next year.  

Jane Thorne married Richard as a plural wife after Isabella’s death, but undoubtedly heard stories about those experiences.  Jane died five years before Richard did.  She may have felt more useful as a grandmother than a plural wife; Jane was in St. George at the time of her death and presumably she was visiting or living with daughter Annie Wells’ family.

Happy Birthday Jane--I hope your headstone and telling your story helps you feel remembered after all these years!


  1. Remarkable stories! I'm continuously amazed at the different struggles every person has to go through during this life. Where is the headstone? That is such a neat thing to do!

  2. I'd give her a chance to write an autobiographical novel: sounds like there are some interesting secrets in her past.