Mad in Pursuit Notebook

AI rendering of young Jim Price

Young Jim Price Leaves Home

An essential anecdote—the stuff of family legends.

What we know for sure: James Price (1831-1904) left his home in Mathon as a young man and, at the age of 20, he married Ann Nash in Sudbury. With facts pulled from English history, here's how the legend might go.

In Victorian England, it was called the “Hungry Forties,” a time of economic depression and crop failures. If you know “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, you have a feel for the 1840s—the cruelty of the rich and the misery of the poor.

The George and Elizabeth Price* family lived in Mathon, Worcestershire, just down the road from where chemists Lea and Perrins sold their mysterious Worcestershire sauce. Mathon was lush with orchards and hops fields, but times were tough.

At age ten and in a better economy, Jim would have been learning precision carpentry in his father’s wheelwright shop. But instead, his father sent him to work as a servant on a nearby farm.

Jim’s sister, Mary Ann, and his brothers, George and Tom, found their mates and raised their families in Mathon. But something drew Jim away. Just fifty miles to the north were the smokestacks of Birmingham, miracle of the Industrial Revolution, City of a Thousand Trades. Did he leave his family to seek his fortune in a steam-powered metal foundry? Or did he aim for the coal mines that fed the engines of progress?

Whether experienced or bypassed, neither blast furnaces nor coal mines delivered the future Jim longed for. But instead of hitching a ride back home, he kept moving. He traveled another fifty miles north till he landed on the Sudbury estate of Lord Vernon.

Despite England’s economic and social upheavals, the Vernons built their estate by investing in the adjacent village and nearby hamlets. Over many decades, they built housing for their servants, laborers, and tradesmen. They supported a shop and modernized their agricultural methods. And they opened a school for boys and girls.

When Jim picked up farm work in Sudbury, he found an amiable community. In particular, he met the Nash family. William and Mary Nash lived across the field from Lord Vernon’s magnificent Sudbury Hall, in the hamlet of Dale Brooks surrounded by extended family. They had twelve children. Their fourth child was Ann.

Click to subscribeAnn was the woman who quieted Jim’s roaming heart. At the parish church on February 20, 1851, twenty-year-old Jim married nineteen-year-old Ann. Jim Price found his home for the next fifty years.

Stay tuned for more stories about Jim, Ann, and their families.

Return to Mad in Pursuit's Family History Hub for more facts and timelines.

22 Apr 2024



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