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James Edward Talmage (21st September 1862 – 27th July 1933) was born in Hungerford.

He was an English chemist, geologist, and religious leader who served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1911 until his death.

A professor at Brigham Young Academy (BYA) and University of Utah (U of U), Talmage also served as president of the U of U and Latter-day Saints' University. In addition to his academic career, Talmage authored several religious-themed books, the most prominent of which are Jesus the Christ and Articles of Faith. Despite first being published in 1915 and 1899, the books remain classics in Mormon literature. An academic and religious scholar, Talmage did not believe that science conflicted with his religious views. Regarding the conflicting Mormon views on evolution, Talmage attempted to be a mediator between church leaders B.H. Roberts and Joseph Fielding Smith who disagreed about evolution and the origin of man. In addition to his academic and religious involvement, Talmage was involved in local political leadership in Provo as a city council member, alderman, and justice of the peace.

Photo Gallery:

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The memorial to James Talmage in Canal Walk, 21st April 2022.

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James E Talmage
James E Talmage

James Talmage, c1875-90

James E Talmage
James E Talmage James E Talmage

-James Talmage, c1875-90

- The memorial to James Talmage in Canal Walk, 21st April 2022.

Early life and education:

James E. Talmage, the first son of Susannah Preater and James Joyce Talmage, was born and raised in Hungerford on 21 September 1862. He was born in the Bell Inn, Hungerford (now 115 High Street), where his father was the manager. Talmage's parents converted to the LDS Church, probably in the 1850s before his birth.

Neighbours and local clergy did not like the Talmage family's membership in the LDS Church or their innkeeping business, which included serving alcoholic beverages during the temperance movement. Shortly after Talmage's birth, his family moved into a cottage in Eddington, where most of his ten younger siblings were born.

Talmage moved to Rambury to stay with his grandfather at the age of two.There he attended infant schools and received some schooling from his grandfather. He returned to Hungerford to live with his parents at age five. As Talmage was spending his time helping take care of his siblings and helping at the inn, he attending school sporadically for the next three years.

The move to America:

He was baptized a member of LDS Church at age 10th on 15th June 1873, but due to local hostilities toward Latter-day Saints, he was baptized in secret at night.

He moved with his family to Provo, Utah Territory, in 1876. In Provo, he studied at BYA

Further education and academic career:

Talmage's early predilection was for the sciences, and in 1882 and 1883 he took selected courses in chemistry and geology at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

After graduating, he started advanced work at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in 1883 but later returned to BYA where he became a professor of geology and chemistry.

Talmage married Merry May Booth (1868–1944), a native of Alpine, Utah, on 14 June 1888. They had eight children.

For many years, Talmage was a Fellow of the following learned societies: the Royal Microscopical Society (London), the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (Edinburgh), the Geological Society (London), the Geological Society of America, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also an Associate of the Philosophical Society of Great Britain, or Victoria Institute.

He received a bachelor's degree from Lehigh University in 1891 and a PhD from Illinois Wesleyan University for nonresident work in 1896. In 1912, Talmage received an honorary PhD from Lehigh University.

He was the president of Latter-day Saints' University from 1889 to 1894 and then was president of the University of Deseret from 1894 to 1897. From 1897 to 1907, Talmage was a professor of geology at the U of U.

His career in mining:

In 1907, Talmage redirected his career from academic to the private sector, mining geology.

In 1891, Talmage had became curator of the Deseret Museum. In 1909, while Talmage was serving as the director of the Deseret Museum, he went to Detroit, Michigan, in November of that year to participate in diggings connected with the Scotford-Soper-Savage relics craze. Talmage would go on to denounce these findings as a forgery in the September 1911 edition of the Deseret Museum Bulletin in an article entitled, "The Michigan Relics: A Story of Forgery and Deception". In 1911, after becoming a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, his son Sterling Talmage replaced him as curator of Deseret Museum.

LDS Church involvement:

Talmage was the author of several religious books, including The Articles of Faith, The Great Apostasy, The House of the Lord, and Jesus the Christ

Church service:

He became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on 7th December 1911 and from 1924 to 1928 he served as president of the church's European Mission.

Views on science and religion:

Talmage was an attentive student and teacher of science, but he did not believe there was conflict between science and religion and did not worry about differences or discrepancies between the two fields of thought. He believed that with time and continued learning, these discrepancies would eventually be resolved.


Talmage died on 27th July 1933 in Salt Lake City at age 70 and was buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery.

See also:

- "Memorial for a famous Mormon", NWN 30 Jul 1987 - re the sarsen stone memorial on Canal Walk to James E Talmage.