Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Price, Charles (1807–1891)

by G. L. Lockley

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Charles Price (1807-1891), Congregational minister, was born on 21 November 1807 in London, the son of John Price and Ann, née Seckerson. He attended schools in London and Coventry before becoming apprenticed to a silk weaver. As a teacher and lay preacher in the West Orchard Chapel, Coventry, he furthered his education under the guidance of his minister. In 1829 he entered Highbury College, London, and on completing his training consented to join a fellow-student, Rev. Frederick Miller, in Van Diemen's Land. He was ordained in Coventry on 27 March 1832 and on 3 April married Catherine, daughter of John and Catherine Brogden. A week later they sailed in the Princess Royal, Price acting as chaplain to the women emigrants on board; on 23 August the ship was driven ashore in Frederick Henry Bay, and the Prices reached Hobart Town overland. There Price found his expected congregation dispersed, and moved to Launceston where Presbyterians and Wesleyans joined Congregationalists under his ministry in the Court House. News of the imminent arrival of a Presbyterian minister diminished the possibilities of continuance, and Price accepted the Congregational pastorate in Sydney.

The Sydney congregation, whose chapel Price opened on 15 February 1833, had two years previously made an unanswered application to London for a minister; seven weeks after Price began his ministry Rev. William Jarrett arrived. Price surrendered the pastorate and accepted the chaplaincy of the Australian Agricultural Co. at Port Stephens, for which its commissioner, Sir Edward Parry, had vainly sought an Anglican clergyman. Price served there most acceptably from July 1833 to March 1836, an arrangement which led to an acrimonious correspondence between Archdeacon William Grant Broughton and Parry.

Price returned to Launceston on 29 April 1836 and, finding that Presbyterian and Wesleyan churches had been established, sought to found a Congregational church without undue call on Dissenting generosity. A church was formed on 26 October 1836 and the Tamar Street Chapel opened on 6 September 1837, but Price, who had established a grammar school in 1836, drew no stipend from the church until its building debts were settled in 1850. There was early disruption of the congregation when Rev. John West arrived in 1839 and drew away half the members to form a second church, but Price maintained an effective ministry for fifty-five years. He added chapels at Vincent Street (1848) and Inveresk (1858) to his pastorate. His qualities of leadership led to his election four times as chairman of the Tasmanian Congregational Union, and as the first president of the Congregational Union of Australasia. His death in Launceston on 4 August 1891 prevented assumption of the presidency. Of his four children, Charles Seckerson Yahrah was ordained in Launceston on 5 March 1861. The Launceston community regarded Price as a founder of the temperance movement, the City Mission and the Bible Society. He lectured frequently on scientific subjects to the Mechanics' Institute, which he had helped to found, and it was claimed that 'he would have shone as a mechanic, as a teacher of languages, parliamentary debater, at the bar, or as a preacher of the Gospel'.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Fenton, The Life and Work of the Reverend Charles Price (Melb, 1886)
  • C. S. Y. Price, Reminiscences Historical and Characteristic of My Beloved Parents (Melb, 1912)
  • Broughton and Parry correspondence (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

G. L. Lockley, 'Price, Charles (1807–1891)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/price-charles-2562/text3495, published in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 24 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

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