How many wives did Brigham Young have?
Brigham Young was perhaps the most famous polygamist of the early Latter Day Saint movement, marrying a total of 55 wives.
He stated that upon being taught about plural marriage, "It was the first time in my life that I desired the grave." By the time of his death, Young had 59 children by 16 of his wives; 46 of his children reached adulthood.
It is suspected that not all of the 55 marriages were conjugal, and Young did not live with a number of his wives or publicly hold them out as wives. A book published in 1887 gives brief biographical sketches and photos of a total of 26 wives.
Of his 55 wives, 21 had never been married before; 16 were widows; six were divorced; six had living husbands; and the marital status of six others is unknown.
At the time of Young's death, 19 of his wives had predeceased him, he was divorced from ten, and 23 survived him, with the status of four unknown. In his will, Young shared his estate with the 16 surviving wives who had lived with him; the six surviving non-conjugal wives were not mentioned in the will.
In 1856, Young built the 'Lion House' to accommodate his sizable family. This building remains a Salt Lake City landmark. A contemporary of Young wrote: "It was amusing to walk by Brigham Young's big house, a long rambling building with innumerable doors. Each wife has an establishment of her own, consisting of parlor, bedroom, and a front door, the key of which she keeps in her pocket".