The early life of William Samuel Price II

As mentioned earlier, William Samuel Price was born in Bombay on 26th March 1812, the posthumous son of Sergeant William Price. It is likely that his second Christian name is that of his grandfather, Samuel Price of Wolverhampton. William Samuel was baptised on 3rd May 1812 by the Rev. R.C. Jackson and the Adjutant of the 65th Foot, W. Ward, certified the register entry. After this date nothing is known of the early life of this child, apart from the fact that he had three step-fathers – Noah Locke, Richard Vine and James Catterill (or Cattrall). It might be concluded that he had a pleasant enough relationship with the first and third of them, as he used their names as Christian names for some of his own children. There is no such use of Richard Vine’s name, so perhaps he was not so well liked.

According to a letter written many years later by his eldest grand-daughter, Marie, young William was a bit of a handful as a child. Apparently he had a scar on his forehead, of which he was very proud. This was as a result of being hit by an umbrella thrown at him by his mother after he had been particularly naughty. He used to hide in the house compound when it was time for him to be given his weekly dose of castor oil. He played the flute well and loved music in later life, and this would have started in his youth.. Whether he was educated in England or in India is not known. He became proficient in Indian languages and would have been exposed to them by contact with the household servants.

William Samuel Price is referred to in the family chronology as ‘William Samuel II’ – although his father did not carry the second name ‘Samuel’. In some early letters he is more correctly called ‘William Samuel Price senior’. As the numeration has continued in the Price family – down to at least William Samuel Price V – this format will be followed here.

William Samuel Price II followed a career in the service of the East India Company, in Bombay Presidency, in the Revenue Survey. His progress can be followed because of entries in the East India Directory and the Bombay Almanac, annual publications which sometimes record the European population in the Bombay Presidency and also record Births, Marriages and Deaths. The latter would only be entered at the request of a person and would not be comprehensive. Additional references to status can be found in the Church Registers for Births, Marriages and Burials, but these may be incomplete and in any case, with the expanding British territory, churches were not always available for such records.

The Revenue Survey was carried out all over British India and eventually produced 20,000 volumes and maps. The information gained allowed the settlement of boundaries, established rights of ownership and determined the food producing capabilities of the land. It allowed accurate agricultural statistics to be gathered and properties to be assessed for taxation. Maps were drawn at 4, 16 and 32 inches to the mile.

It was only after his birth that the British fought the Maratha Confederation and, after victory in 1818, annexed the areas to the South of Bombay that include Poona and Dharwar. It was in these districts that he was destined to spend his career in India.

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