Three statements indicate that Sarah and Maria Lawrence had sexual relations with Joseph Smith.

Lucy Walker acknowledged in 1887: “I am also able to testify that Emma Smith, the Prophet’s first wife, gave her consent to the marriage of at least four other girls [Emily and Eliza Partridge and Maria and Sarah Lawrence] to her husband, and that she was well aware that he associated with them as wives within the meaning of all the word implies.”1

Emily Partridge similarly affirmed: “She [Emma Smith] afterwards gave Sarah and Maria Lawrence to him, and they lived in the house as his wifes. I knew this.”2

Benjamin F. Johnson wrote in 1904: “I do know that at his [Joseph Smith’s] Mansion home was living Maria and Sarah Lawrence and one of Cornelius P. Lott’s daughters as his plural wives with the full knowledge of his wife, Emma, of their married relations to him.”3

The case of Maria Lawrence is strengthened because William Law charged the Prophet with living “in an open state of adultery” with her from October 12, 1843, to May 23, 1844.4

Notwithstanding, Gordon A. Madsen hypothesizes: “Possibly Joseph planned to prove his innocence, not only by his and Maria’s denial of sexual intercourse but also by the testimony of a reputable physician that he had conducted a physical examination and found that Maria was still a virgin.”5 This speculation is problematic because, since Maria was sealed to Joseph in a “time and eternity” sealing, then sexual relations would be permitted. In addition, virginity cannot always be proven by physical exam even if the woman has never experienced intercourse.



  1. Jenson, “Plural Marriage,” 230.  (back)
  2. Emily Dow Partridge Young, “Incidents in the Life of a Mormon Girl,” n.d.  (back)
  3. Johnson, “More Testimony,” March 9, 1904.  (back)
  4. People vs. Joseph Smith, May 24, 1844, Circuit Court Record, Hancock County, Book D, pp. 128–29. See also William Clayton, The Nauvoo Diaries of William Clayton, 1842–1846, Abridged (Salt Lake City: Privately Published [Smith-Pettit Foundation], 2010), 49; Thomas Gregg, History of Hancock County, Illinois, 301; Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 375.  (back)
  5. Gordon A. Madsen, “Joseph Smith as Guardian: The Lawrence Estate,” 202.  (back)

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