Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy 216th Birthday, Nicholas Welch (1795-1842)!

John Welch's great-great-grandfather

Today is the anniversary of his christening, since Nicholas Welch's actual day of birth in May is unknown, and the poor guy died working in the swamps of Nauvoo, so he deserves an especially cheery celebration.

Nicholas' name on plaque of Nauvoo deaths
Nicholas was one of several children born in England to the mysterious Irish nobleman Nicholas Welch, who died when his son was just a toddler. This first Nicholas Welch supposedly fled Ireland during a rebellion and changed his name (or alternatively was disinherited for marrying against his father’s wishes). He was a gentleman of culture and education, and ran an inn, The Hat and Feather.  Nicholas bequeathed property on Beaver Street to his same-named son, who later built a home there.  Nicholas stored his written life history (reportedly containing the secrets of his noble origin, true name and heritage, and treasonous rebellion) in his wife’s aunt’s house, which to the great disappointment of his descendants was later destroyed in a fire.

Welch pottery
Nicholas Junior and his brother William became brown ware potters at Welches’ Pottery in Brampton Moor.  Nicholas was also a Methodist preacher and Sunday School teacher, and he often took his daughter Ann with him on walks to visit the poor.  Nicholas carefully arranged the terms of his son John's cutlery apprenticeship, assuring that his son would be well-educated and cared for.

When his wife Elizabeth discovered the gospel and the family was baptized, the end of Nicholas’ Methodist preaching career was a financial hardship for the family. The Welches journeyed to America and on to Nauvoo, where Nicholas worked as a mason on the Nauvoo Temple.  The Nauvoo swamp land and hard, damp work in an adobe yard contributed to his illness and death only months later.  His daughter recalled how the roof leaked on the hovel there on the Mississippi shore, and her father’s feet were wet every day.  

I would give him a nice warm pair of boots--happy birthday whenever it was, Nicholas!

1 comment:

  1. I'd give him a fire-proof box for those records. Sad, not even knowing when his birthday is.