Charles Price/Priest/Prest

Charles was my maternal grandmother's maternal grandmother's father. He settled in English Harbour, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, marrying Catherine Penney in 1843. Their children, as far as I know, were:

You will note that I have not included any dates of birth above. That's because I have been totally unsuccessful in finding any. I suspect that the birth records are in a parish register that is now missing, but which is known to have still been in existence in 1924.

You'll also note that I'm unsure of the proper spelling of Charles' surname. The earliest records I've found say "Priest". Later ones, including the contemporary spelling of the family name, say "Price". "Prest" is a third variant that may have been used in England.

Charles himself lived to be an old man. He died on 10 October 1907 at the age of 89.

So far all I've said is pretty dry. But there is a small mystery to be told about Charles. To get going, let's take a look at an except from a letter written by Florence Ford Carter Phinney, one of Charles' grand-daughters, in 1972 (this letter is addressed to Florence's niece Annie):

Well, if that's not enough to whet a family historian's appetite, then what is?

Unknown to Florence was that her sister Josephine had not thrown out all of the papers that were taken from Bessie's closet. But it would seem that several had indeed been discarded. What's left basically consists of a few pieces of correspondence with the Vicar of Cranborne. One such letter makes reference to "C-- Fields' letter" ... I suspect that this may be a reference to the lawyer that Florence and Bessie hired in Boston.

As for the claims made by Florence to a "General Price", an inheritance waiting to be claimed, and so on, they have become legends throughout the family, especially the tale regarding the inheritance.

As for "General Price", I have my doubts. I've found no reference to any "General Price" in any of the English records for the Napoleonic Wars. And certainly not for the Battle of Waterloo.

But, I have found that a Henry Prest, a former soldier, was living in Cranborne, Dorset in the early 1800's. And in 1821, Henry and his wife Catherine (nee Bungy) christened a son named Charles. No further mention of Charles is made in the parish records, at least not that I've been able to find.

Henry appears in the 1840 Census of England as a Chelsea Pensioner, meaning that he received a pension for being a war veteran... that was the tip that lead me to seek out his war records (but I first needed to find what unit he was assigned to... this I learned from his death certificate).

Military pension records for Henry reveal that he was in the British Army from 1800 to 1814, serving in the 95th Regiment of Foot (1800-1812) and in the 5th Royal Veterans Battalion (1812-1814). Further, he suffered a wound in the thigh at Sabugal in 1811, which certainly plays into Aunt Florence's account of General Price's leg wound. When discharged in 1814, Henry was a Corporal, 38 years old, 5'9" tall, had brown hair and dark eyes. But noting that the Battle of Waterloo took place in 1815, it would seem unlikely that Henry partook in this particular campaign.

Regarding the family legend of an inheritance, the details vary depending on who tells the tale, but there is a common theme in that there was an inheritance waiting in England, and that this inheritance was indeed advertised in some newspaper.

But the ad could have appeared in any Newfoundland newspaper, anytime between about 1895 and 1907. I have personally checked The Evening Telegram, from 02 January 1901 to 10 October 1907 (yes, I know I need to get a life), without finding the "Heirs Wanted" advertisment in question. But there are other papers that the ad could have appeared in (or, heaven forbid, I could have overlooked the ad in The Evening Telegram).

As for the now legendary estate, I would doubt that it consisted of the millions of dollars that Aunt Florence spoke of. I'm inclined to think that it may have had something to do with Henry's war pension... it may be that Charles, as Henry's son, may have been entitled to something on account of the pension.

The link between Charles and Henry appears to be a good one. But I still don't have any proof that my Charles is the same one that Henry and Catherine had christened back in 1821. So while I'm hopeful that I've got things right, I'm still wary of jumping to conclusions without the evidence to support them.

So what am I now looking for?

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