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James Price

James was born in the hamlet of Llwyndu (alternate spelling Lloyndu) in the parish of Abergavenny in Wales and was baptised the church of St Mary Abergavenny on 23 September 1831.   He was the son of David Price, a shoemaker, and Margaret Price. Margaret's maiden was the same as her married name; "Price" was a common name in Abergavenny. In the 1851 census James is recorded as coming from "Monmouth." and in later years, when registering the birth of his youngest son, James identifies his own birthplace as "Monmouthshire, England". Monmouthshire is actually in Wales and Abergavenny is one of its larger towns so perhaps it simply reflects that, at that time, there was no sense of Welsh independence.

James appears in the 1851 census (ref: HO 107 1562 folio 339). He was one of three lodgers residing at no. 17 Brook Street, Bermondsey, London. He is described as age 19 and his occupation is stated as "tanner". He was residing in Bermondsey at the time of his marriage on 28 March 1853, in St Mary's parish church in Bermondsey, to Rebecca Hayward. With his wife, he arrived in Port Adelaide in South Australia on the ship Royal Charlie in May 1854. They lived for a time in Adelaide and then in Noarlunga, a settlement about 35 kilometres south of Adelaide. The family moved to Wentworth, New South Wales, approximately three years later, in 1857 (this date can be ascertained from information on the death certificate of his wife, which states she lived three years in South Australia then remainder of her life in New South Wales, and is confirmed in the obituary for Rebecca).

 


Historic Port Adelaide
http://www.portenf.sa.gov.au/html/body_histp.html

In 1840, Port Adelaide had a population of 472 Europeans. Twenty years later, Europeans numbered 3500 (reference http://www.portcommunityarts.org.au/htm/law%26orde/law%26orde.htm - page no longer available on that website). This may give some suggestion of the place at which James and Rebecca Price arrived in 1854. Perhaps its population was about 2500 people.

Encyclopaedia Britannica records that steamboats developed on the Murray River after 1853, opening new possibilities for intercolonial trade. Having arrived in South Australia in mid-1854, it was thus possible for the Price family to travel the Murray River. After approximately three years in South Australia, the family would have been among the foundation settlers at Wentworth, New South Wales, which was established in 1857 and became a bustling river port near the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers. This was probably a good place for James Price to ply his trades of blacksmith and merchant, and the Prices would have been among the original 1857 settlers.

 


The junction of Australia's two greatest rivers at Wentworth, NSW.
Note the lighter colour of the waters of the Darling River (near side)
in contrast with the clearer blue of the Murray River (far side).
Together, these rivers form the fourth largest river system on earth,
usually known as the Murray-Darling Basin.

 

In the mid 1840's the settlement was known as "McLeod's Crossing", named for the first white residents of the settlement. With the arrival of the river steamers in 1853, the small European settlement found itself to be ideally situated as an administrative and commercial centre for the untapped wealth of the vast Outback. For many years Sydney was the only port in New South Wales to handle more cargo than Wentworth. The steamers brought a new sophistication to the rugged river towns. They carried the hopes and dreams of fragile communities for over three quarters of a century. In 1857, Surveyor General Barney considered it time to establish a proper township. The town site was approved in 1859 and was named after the New South Wales explorer and politician William Charles Wentworth,   . . . .   Throughout the prosperous river trade days Wentworth Shire suffered extremes in fortune and despair. The area suffered floods, droughts, rabbit plagues and overstocking which in turn caused erosion and land degeneration. Nonetheless, the settlements continued to thrive and grow at a reasonably rapid pace...

In the 20th century, as a prosperous town situated on the junction of Australia's two most important rivers, it was narrowed down to one of the last three sites considered for the capital of Australia. http://www.wentworth.nsw.gov.au/

 


click on the image above for an enlargement of a map of the town
of Wentworth, N.S.W. at the junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers,
Australia's two great rivers.
map provided by Wentworth Historical Society
37 Adelaide St., Wentworth NSW 2648.

 

In April 2000, Miss Maud Crang of the Wentworth Historical Society provided invaluable assistance with some of the following information.

In the survey of 1856/57, only five worthwhile buildings were recorded. After the town plan was drawn, the first auction of town Lots was held at the Junction Inn (then the only licensed premises in the town) on 17 March 1860. James Price was the successful bidder for three town Lots, namely : Lot 10 of section 3, and Lots 8, 9,11 & 12 of section7.

Lot 10 was very close to the junction of the two rivers. It is shown on the map of Wentworth as fronting on Alice Street, between Cadell Street and the Darling River. It is probable, but not verified, that James Price had established his blacksmith shop on this site : it was close to the river and would have attracted custom from river traffic and was on the old land route to Adelaide, for horse traffic. A well-timbered paddock running to the river was part of the Lot and could have provided fuel for the forge.

 


map provided by Wentworth Historical Society
map shows owners names in later years, but the properties once owned by James Price are coloured.

 

Later, when the business portion of the town commenced to develop itself, James Price acquired a property in Darling Street, the main street, in the middle of the block between Adelaide and Sandwych Streets. This was described as Section 23A lots 3 & 4. Here he conducted his blacksmith business and later opened a general store. James was variously described as a "smith" on one daughter's birth certificate and as a "storekeeper" on his own death certificate, probably reflecting the change in occupation over time.

In the mid-1860's James Price built " the first store of any magnitude erected in Wentworth" - "a large iron structure with a brick front, extending from Darling Street back to a lane in the rear, a distance of 140 feet" (description taken from newspaper account below of the building's destruction by fire in later years).

More information about James is found in the obituary for his wife, Rebecca.

James was the father of six children, the youngest of whom was not yet one year old when James died.

In September 1868, newspapers carried reports of the death, in unusual circumstances, of Charles Price. The man was reported to be a brother of James Price. It was further reported that he had travelled from England to Melbourne by sea, then to Echuca on the the Murray River where he boarded a river steamer to Wentworth. The mysterious man jumped from the boat into the Murray River and drowned despite attempts by a crew-member to rescue him. If the man was indeed James' brother, news of his suicide so close to seeing his brother for the first time after many years, would have been tragic for James.

And then ...

It is not known how it happened. On 10th December 1869, James Price drowned in the Darling River, and was buried the next day in the Church of England section of the cemetery at Wentworth, just a couple of hundred metres from the junction of the two great rivers. He was 38 years of age.

 


"We all do fade as a leaf"

 

 

DROWNING OF MR. PRICE OF WENTWORTH. - Mr. James Price, merchand and storekeeper, of Wentworth (says the Dubbo Dispatch), was found drowned in the Darling River, on Friday, the 10th ultimo. He was generally esteemed for his thorough business-like habits, shrewdness, and industry, and will be greatly missed in the Wentworth district, and on the Darling River, where he was favourably and extensively known.  Mr. Price had been for some time suffering from colonial fever.  He has left a wife and several children to lament their loss.
extract from The Sydney Mail, Saturday January 1, 1870, page 4.

 

According to one source, "colonial fever" was typhus. (http://ren.netconnect.com.au/~jonest/caring_commmunity_creswick_hospital.htm but web-page no longer functional). The symptoms of typhus include severe headache, sustained high fever, depression, delirium, and the eruption of red rashes on the skin. It was also called prison fever, ship fever, among other names.

Weather reports for this day as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on the following day show that weather was generally dry across New South Wales. The nearest town for which temperatures were reported was Deniliquin which, in the 24 hours to 9am on 10 December, had no rain and a maximum temperature of 82.1 degrees Fahrenheit which is approximately 28 degrees on the Centigrade scale now in use. The Fahrenheit scale for measuring temperatures was widely used in Australia until the last one third of the twentieth century.

On Saturday 1 January 1870, the Pastoral Times newspaper published in Deniliquin, New South Wales, published the following two announcements :

Estate of James Price, Storekeeper, Wentworth (Deceased)

It is requested that all ACCOUNTS due by this Estate be rendered immediately to the undersigned.

GEORGE C. GILLOTT
Solicitor
Wentworth

Wentworth, 14th December, A.D.1869       475-569

 

In the Estate of the late James Price, of Wentworth NSW

Residents on the Darling and the Public generally are respectfully informed that arrangements have been made for the carrying on (for the benefit of Mrs. Price and family) the business of the late Mr. James Price, the same as previously.

Mr Henry Williams, who has been for some years in the employ of Mr. Price, has been appointed to the management of the business. All correspondence will therefore be addressed to him at Wentworth.

Frederick Sach
Trustee

  486-575a

 

 

At about the time of James' death, a man arrived in Wentworth and claimed to be James' brother. There had been some uncertainty about the identity of this man but it is now known that this was James' half-brother Henry George Price. Henry was born in Wales while James was residing in London and Henry would have been only about four years of age when James emigrated to South Australia, so the two brothers would have been virtual strangers to each other. The exact date of Henry's arrival in Wentworth is unknown and it is not clear whether he arrived not long before or not long after James' death. It is also unclear whether there were any links between James' death and the arrival of Henry or the death of another half-brother, Charles Price, who had died in mysterious circumstances a year earlier.

 

 

James Price in the
Family History Index
family tree brief family tree of
James Price

 

 


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