Price family life in London

The Price family arrived in England in 1864 and settled at Blackheath on the South-Eastern outskirts of London, but in the County of Kent. Blackheath was part of the Borough of Greenwich, set back from the main town, which is by the River Thames. They moved in to a large house at 6 Vanbrugh Park Road near the Southern entrance to Greenwich Park, home of the Royal Observatory. It may be that they had determined on a retirement home in this area when Charlotte was in England in 1861. She was still only in her early thirties and continued to have children. John Dodds Price was born on 29th July 1865 followed by Kate Price Price on 27th August 1867. His daughter’s name, with ‘Price’ as a second Christian name seems strange, but was perhaps intended as a way of continuing the family name even after she married.

6 Vanbrugh Park Road, Greenwich

The house where the Price family lived no longer exists and only No.1 remains of the original houses in Vanbrugh Park Road. A piece of debris from a V2 rocket, which disintegrated in flight, landed on 2 Vanbrugh Park Road at 11.45 p.m. on 19th February 1945. No.4 was also partially demolished and the old Price residence at No.6 damaged beyond repair. No.2 was being used as offices by the WVS (Women’s Voluntary Service), a medical store and a base for a rescue squad. Two people were killed and 42 injured during the incident.

William Samuel Price II from an oil painting

William Samuel Price II photographed in London

It is part of the family lore that William Samuel Price II made a visit to Wales to seek out his father’s relations, found some and was well received. He apparently intended to invite some to visit him in Greenwich, but his wife would not agree to this as she thought that, being “in trade”, they would be out of place. Although on a good pension of around £500 a year, he decided to get work teaching India languages in the Faculty of Arts and Laws at University College, London. He was employed there in the academic years 1866/7 and 1867/8 as a Lecturer in Marathi. When Kate was born in 1867 he described himself on her Birth Certificate as ‘Professor of Marathi at University College’, but this title was a little bit of an exaggeration. In the 1867/68 academic year he lectured twice a week for 90 minutes each and the whole course cost £15/15/0d. The course included reading the “5th Book of the Government Series, Aesop’s Fables and Stevenson’s Grammar”. It was during this time that William Samuel Price II took a novel turn.

Whilst his wife, Charlotte, was still having children, he had an affair with a woman called Louisa Harris. As a result of this liaison, a daughter was born on 6th November 1866, in Hackney, London. William Samuel Price admitted to paternity when he registered the birth, giving his occupation as ‘Teacher of Languages’ and stating that the child’s mother was ‘Louisa Price formerly Harris’. The girl was named Agnes Price. He maintained this relationship with Louisa Harris until his death in 1882, fathering eight children by her (see William Samuel Price's secret family in London).

His dalliance did not stop him fathering another child by Charlotte, who gave birth to a son at the family home on 10th May 1869. He was named Frederick Scott Price, and his father settled for ‘Gentleman’ as occupation on the Birth Certificate. William Samuel Price II returned to University College for the academic years 1869/70 and 1870/71, teaching both Marathi and Gujrathi. The family was still at the Vanbrugh Park Road address for the 1871 census, with six children and four servants. In 1873, on 16th February, William and Charlotte had their last child, a son named Archibald Ainslie Price. This was William Samuel Price’s twenty-eight child, by three wives and a mistress.

Apart from his formal teaching at University College, William Samuel Price probably gave private tuition to men studying Indian languages in order to pass their Indian Civil Service entrance examinations. He is said to have collaborated with Duncan Forbes, Professor of Oriental Languages and Literature in King’s College, London, in the production of A Dictionary of Hindustani and English. The edition of this large book of over 900 pages published in 1859 makes no reference to W. S. Price, but Forbes died in 1868, so William Samuel Price may have been involved in a revision of a later edition of the Dictionary.

By the time of the 1881 census on 3rd April, William and Charlotte had four sons living at home, having moved to 4 Mayfield Terrace, Hervey Road, Greenwich, and now just two servants. Julia Price was employed as a schoolmistress in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire and one of her pupils was her younger sister Kate. William Samuel Price II collapsed and died of heart failure on Blackheath Hill on 25th March 1882, the eve of his 70th birthday. His death was announced in the London newspaper The Standard on April 4th as follows " Price - March 25, suddenly at Blackheath, William Samuel Price late Bombay U.C.S. on the eve of his 70th birthday. Indian papers please copy." The death was also mentioned in that day's 'Morning Post'. (U.C.S. = Uncovenanted Civil Service)

Newspaper report on the inquest in William Samuel Price's death

Newspaper report on the inquest in William Samuel Price's death

In his Will he left his estate to his wife and it was valued at the considerable sum of £6,302. After inheritance tax had been paid Charlotte was left with £4,532/19/4d. He was buried in the same cemetery as his young son Alexander, Norwood Park, but in a private grave (No. 19035, Square 18) in an area of the cemetery now grassed over, so his headstone is lost.

The £6,302 left in the William Samuel Price’s estate was equivalent to £450,000 in 2008 values if based on the price of goods or over £3 million if based on average earnings.

6 Vanbrugh Park Road, Greenwich circa 1900

6 Vanbrugh Park Road, Greenwich – sitting room, possibly with Frederick Scott Price seated

At the 1891 census on 5th April, Charlotte Price – ‘living on own means’ – was still residing at in Hervey Road,a little way away from Vanbrugh Park Road. Also in the house on the night of the census were Kate and Archibald plus two of Elizabeth Barker nee Price’s children – John and Charles Barker. There were two servants.

Charlotte and Kate Price were staying at 17 Cressingham Road, Lewisham with a Miss Alice Butler, a school headmistress in 1901. A small column in the census sheet is for "number of rooms if less than 5" - against Charlotte's name is "2". Although referred to as "Visitors", which implies a short stay, they were possibly residing there for an extended period and this suggests that they were probably in a tight financial state. (In 1891 this Lewisham address was occupied by one family, but in 1911 there were two households - one occupying 6 rooms and the other - a single elderly lady - occupying 2 rooms.) Backing evidence comes from a John Dodds Price obituary - "As a boy he sang in Westminster Abbey and was trained as a tenor. He felt a musical career too hazardous as his mother was dependent upon him, so trained as a doctor".

Records from Greenwich Council show that Charlotte was renting 84 St John’s Park, Blackheath in 1907. This house was unoccupied at the times of the 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses. The records also confirm that she owned 6 Vanbrugh Park Road and rented it out, but also that she own 7 Vanbrugh Park Road as well, at least during 1907/08.

In 1911, Charlotte ‘Elinor’, 78, and Kate, 42, were back at 6 Vanbrugh Park Road, with one servant. Also living there was Violet Elinor Price, Charlotte's grand-daughter, aged 9. She was the daughter of John Dodds Price and Jessie Elinor Stuart, who went to India where he practised as a doctor in Assam. They obviously left Violet in England for schooling. By this time Charlotte's children were doing well - William Henry was a bank manager, John Dodds and Archibald Ainslie doctors and Arthur Edward was in Nigeria. Between them they could afford to subsidise their mother and sister at the family home.

Charlotte Eleanor Price, aged 85, died of ‘bronchitis and senile decay’ on 13th April 1917, by which time she was living again at 6 Vanbrugh Park Road. Kate Price Price (spinster) and Edward Walter Morgan (probably a solicitor) were her executors and her estate was valued at a mere £126. It may be that the house was made over to Kate some time before her mother’s death, as she was suffering from dementia. Charlotte was buried alongside her husband at West Norwood Cemetery.

The £126 left by Charlotte Price is equivalent to £4,850 in 2008 values, based on the price of goods or £26,000 based on average earnings. Whichever calculation is used, she had spent about 99% of the money left to her in 1882 (but she may have passed 6 Vanbrugh Park Road to Kate before her death). Probate was granted to her daughter Kate and Edward Walter Morgan, a warehouseman, on 24th July 1917.

Title page of an early edition of Forbes Hindustani Dictionary