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Did Joseph Smith Have Children With His Plural Wives?

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Kevin Prince

Source Expert

Kevin Prince serves as the Source Authority at Mormonism Explained. Mr. Prince is a religious scholar as well as a technology industry CEO and entrepreneur.

Updated July 3, 2024

People have always been curious about Joseph Smith’s wives. One of the ongoing questions has been, did Smith have any children with his plural wives? Historical evidence shows that when Smith began to practice polygamy in Nauvoo, he was sealed to multiple women who were already married and pregnant. Some critics have suggested that Smith married these women to cover up extramarital relationships.

With this information in mind, modern scholars have conducted DNA tests to see if Smith had children with these pregnant women or any other of Smith’s plural wives. Contrary to the critique, the DNA evidence shows that Joseph Smith did not have children with any of his plural wives. The only children that Smith had were with his first wife, Emma Hale Smith. They had nine biological children and two adopted children.

More recent scholarship has suggested that Jopseh Smith chose plural wives who were already married and pregnant for other reasons. First, it was commonly understood that having sexual relations with a woman who was pregnant was not acceptable in the nineteenth century. Second, Smith might have done this to shield his first wife, Emma from the heartache of regular marital relationships with single women. Lorenzo Snow said that Smith was reprimanded by an angel for only choosing to be sealed to women who were already married. After this reprimand, Smith began to marry single women.