William Samuel Price’s secret family in London
William Samuel Price met Louisa Harris, in London, at some unknown place and time, and a long-term relationship developed. Louisa gave birth to a daughter in October 1866, only two years after the Price family arrived in Greenwich from India. He acknowledged that he was the father of this child, who was named Agnes Price, and his own name appeared on the Birth Certificate.
The affair with Louisa Harris continued, and lasted for at least 16 years, until William Samuel Price’s sudden death in 1882. He may have been dissatisfied with his home life with Charlotte or was, perhaps, just looking for a distraction? William and Louisa went on to have no less than eight illegitimate children between 1866 and 1878. He registered the births of the first four under the surname of Price and the last four under the surname of Locke. Louisa Rosina Price was born at 6 Rodney Street, Pentonville, in 1868, and by 1871 his second family had settled into a house in Bermondsey. He perhaps chose this location as it was close to Bermondsey and London Bridge railway stations, which were on a direct line back to his family home in Greenwich.
On the night of the 1871 census, William completed the census form for his second family, naming himself as William Locke, head of the household, married to Louisa, and his occupation was ‘Commercial Clerk’. There were three daughters recorded – Agnes, Louisa and Florence. He claimed he was 40 years of age and had been born in Jamaica. Louisa was said to be aged 30 and born in St Austell, Cornwall. Their address was 12 Park Terrace, Camilla Road, Bermondsey. He then went home to Charlotte and complete a second census form for his legitimate family.
Seven weeks after this census, Louisa gave birth to a son, who was named partly after his father – William Edwin Price. Unfortunately, this child died less than six months later and his death was registered as William Edwin Locke. The surname Locke was used by this family from now on.
William Samuel Price’s father had died shortly before he was born in India in 1812 and soon afterwards his mother remarried and he had a step-father, Noah Locke. He would have been known as William Locke for at least the first 12 years of his life in India; his step-father died when he was eleven and his mother then married for a third time when he was twelve.
After the birth of a fourth daughter, Aline Blanche Locke, in 1873, the family was moved to Bexleyheath, Kent, where Ernest Christopher Roland Locke and his brother William Sidney Locke were born in 1875 and 1876 respectively. The new home was at 3 Oak Villas, Church Road. This town was growing in size but agriculture and market gardening was the main industry at this time. Getting between Bexleyheath and Greenwich would not have been a straightforward train journey for William Samuel Price. The family was moved again, to Erith, before the birth of another daughter, Clara Elizabeth Margaret, in 1878. From here, a one-hour train journey was possible to Greenwich. Finally, he moved the family again, to Blackheath, where they were for the 1881 census, at 15 Orchard Hill, Greenwich. This was less than two miles from the Price family home, which was now at 4 Mayfield Terrace, Hervey Road, Greenwich.
It was from Orchard Hill, that William Samuel Price left on the morning of 25th March 1882, to walk back to his family home. He collapsed and died of heart failure whilst walking up Blackheath Hill.
Louisa Locke died in Lewisham Workhouse, of bronchitis and asthma, on 31st July 1889, aged 42. She was recorded as the 'widow of William Samuel Locke, Teacher of Languages'. Her daughter, Agnes, gave the information to the Registrar and had been present at her mother's death. Louisa was buried in Lewisham on 6th August, probably in an unmarked grave.
Details of the lives of each of the illegitimate children are given in separate sections. In different records the surnames of these children are shown at various times as 'Price', 'Locke' or 'Harris', but exhaustive research has found that the same person is being referred to under these name variations.
Surname changes of the children of William Samuel Price and Louisa Harris
The surnames used by the illegitimate children were changed in later life by some of them. The first four were registered as ‘Price’ at birth and the last four as ‘Locke’. The boy who lived only a short while in 1871 had his birth registered as ‘Price’ but death registered as ‘Locke’. The next son was registered as ‘Locke’ but later changed his surname to that of his mother, ‘Harris’.
The seventh child, a son, was registered as ‘Locke’, but he too used the surname ‘Harris’ as an adult. The last child, a daughter, continued to use her registered name of ‘Locke’
A Possible Family Background for Louisa Harris
Unlike other sections concerning the Price family, this one is purely a theory as to the background of Louisa Harris, William Samuel Price II’s mistress. Until any confirmatory evidence is found what follows must be regarded as conjecture. A number of potential candidates as William’s mistress have been looked at, but previous theories have eventually been found to be wanting and discarded. The following one has a number of intriguing factors that might mean that Louisa Harris has been revealed – but the jury is definitely still out.
Age and Location
Firstly, Louisa’s birth. One census entry, completed by William Samuel Price clearly contains false details. In 1871 he claimed to be 40 years old and to have been born in Jamaica, both obviously untrue. He gave Louisa’s age as 30 and her place of birth as in Cornwall. The latter cannot be ruled out, but lines of enquiry have not been found to confirm it.
In the 1881 census, taken on 3rd April, her age was given as 34 and her place of birth as Lambeth, Surrey. At her death on 31st July 1889 her age was given as 42. Assuming both of these ages are correct, the census would make her birth as between 4th April 1846 and 3rd April 1847; her age at death would mean she was born between 1st August 1846 and 31st July 1847. These periods overlap between 1st August 1846 and 3rd April 1847, so a search was made on this basis. For this exercise, it has also been accepted that she was born in Surrey
The national Birth Register has no entries for ‘Louisa Harris’ in the Lambeth District in 1846 or 1847 at all. If the search is widened to the whole of Surrey, there is a record of ‘Louisa Ellena Harris’ being born in Croydon, Surrey in the Jan/Feb/Mar quarter of 1847. This fits into the time period above and Lambeth is about 10 miles north of Croydon.
The second Christian name of ‘Ellena’ is most unusual, but a check of the baptismal records of St John’s Church, Croydon has her as the daughter of David (a coal dealer) and Sarah Harris, baptised under that name on 21st February 1847.
An elderly father
This family was in the 1851 census as living at 6 Galloways Road, Croydon. David was a ‘coal dealer’ and aged 74; Sarah was 39 and ‘Louisa E.’ was four. The age difference between David and Sarah was large and so investigated further.
In the 1841 census, David Harris, coal merchant, was living in Croydon and was aged 64. Listed with him was a Sarah Harris, also aged 64. This age does not fit with the one for Sarah in 1851 and she would have been too old to have had Louisa Ellena. A Sarah Harris died in Croydon in late 1844, but no ages were recorded in the Death Register at that time. David Harries, widower and coal dealer, married Sarah Musgrave at All Saint’s Church, Upper Norwood, Surrey on 18th June 1846, eight months before Louisa Ellena was born. These were the couple in the 1851 census.
Given David Harris’s ages at various times, his baptism was found on 8th March 1778, the son of Thomas and Mary, at All Saint’s Church, Banstead, Surrey – quite close to Croydon. A David Harris died in Croydon in the Oct/Nov/Dec quarter of 1857 and his burial was found on 13th September 1857, aged 79.
Leaving home at an early age
‘Louisa E. Harris’, aged 14, was recorded in the 1861 census as a servant in the Ebbutt household in High Street, Croydon.
The Louisa Harris who bore William Samuel Price eight children between 1866 and 1878 must have met him some time around 1864/65 or a bit earlier. He started teaching at University College, London in 1866, perhaps to earn some money to pay for his second family. Where and how they met is unknown. Did she have work in a minor role at the College or was she working as a prostitute? Enquiries at University College, London, as to whether Louisa Harris might have been employed there in a lowly role have been unrewarding, as records of College servants have not survived from that period.
The Ellena – Aline connection
This particular ‘Louisa Harris’ has been investigated because of her second name ‘Ellena’. When William Samuel Price registered the birth of Louisa's fifth child, in 1873, her called her ‘Aline Blanche Locke’ (He registered the first four children with the surname ‘Price’ and the last four as ‘Locke’; his step-father in India for the first 10 years of his life had been Noah Locke and he himself may have been called William Locke during these early years ?)
If he knew that his mistress’s full name was ‘Louisa Ellena’ but had never seen this written down, he may have told the Registrar the name and it was recorded as ‘Aline’ instead of ‘Ellena’. At her death in 1928, her nephew, Henry Oscar Locke, registered her name as ‘Aileen Blanche Locke’.
An attraction to older men ?
Another factor in Louisa Ellena’s life would have been her elderly father, who died when she was only ten. She was sent out to work at 14 or earlier and would have been quite vulnerable. How William Samuel Price encountered Louisa Harris is unknown, but she was certainly young and had advantage taken of her.
If other potential candidates are found, they will be investigated, but for the moment, this is currently just a theory. With no firm evidence this theory should not be stated as fact.