“Blessed Is the First Man Baptised in This Font”: Reuben McBride, First Proxy to Be Baptized for the Dead in the Nauvoo Temple


Nauvoo Temple, Proxy Baptisms, Temple work, Temple baptisms


On 15 August 1840, while preaching the funeral sermon of Seymour Brunson, Joseph Smith declared for the first time the doctrine that a Latterday Saint could be baptized in behalf of a deceased individual. Although the Mormon leader intended that the practice of baptism for the dead be reserved for the temple, provisions were made for the ordinance to be performed outside the temple, temporarily. “For this ordinance belongeth to my house,” a revelation declared, “and cannot be acceptable to me, only in the days of your poverty, wherein ye are not able to build a house unto me” (D&C 124:29–30; see also vv. 31–34). Significantly, Mormons living in Nauvoo and other nearby settlements, and even as far away as Kirtland, Ohio, embraced the principle and performed hundreds of proxy baptisms in the Mississippi River and elsewhere.1

Original Publication Citation

“‘Blessed is the First Man Baptised in This Font’: Reuben McBride, First Proxy to be Baptized for the Dead in the Nauvoo Temple,” Mormon Historical Studies 3 no. 2 (Fall 2002): 253–61.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


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Mormon Historical Studies




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor