By Irma Walter, 2021.
When the 1929 Centenary was celebrated in Western Australia, newspapers went looking for the oldest residents in the colony. Many names were put forward, but only those who could prove their status were awarded a bronze medal, forged by the Perth Mint. Joseph Price was included on the published list of recipients. His details were as follows:
Our Oldest Residents. To the Editor, “The West Australian.”
Sir,— I forward the fourth list of persons born in 1840 or earlier and now residing in the State. This list contains the name of Mrs. Isabella Keenan born in Ireland on January 21, 1833, and now residing at Margaret River. It is possible that Mrs. Keenan is the oldest woman in Western Australia. There now appears on the scene Mr. Joseph Price, of Mellenbye Station, near Wurarga. He claims, to have been born in Somerset, in the very year of the founding of the State. It is expected that his century will be rounded off in July next. Of the West Australian-born, Mr. Robert Michael Minson (1834), Northam, and Mrs Louisa Moore (1835); Bunbury, lead.
- JOSEPH PRICE, born at Chew Magna, near Bristol, England, on July 16, 1829. Arrived in Western Australia on May 1, 1853, in the ship Pyrenees and has been here ever since. Present address, Mellenbye Station via Wurarga.
— Yours, etc. H. A. CORBET. Royal Mint, Perth, May 20.
His Early Life
Joseph Price (Jnr), aged 20, was convicted of larceny at Wells in Somerset on 22 October 1849, and due to a previous conviction he was sentenced to ten years’ transportation. He left England onboard the convict ship Pyrenees (its 2nd voyage) on 2 February 1853, arriving in Western Australia on 30 April 1853. [The fact that he was listed as ‘Jnr’ may indicate that his father Joseph was also known to the Courts.]
Joseph Price was baptised at Chew Magna, Somerset, to parents Joseph Price and his wife Ann (née Beacham) on 26 February 1832. The date of his birth is not clear. Later investigations state a likely birth date of 1829 and his place of birth as Bristol (see below), and his convict record on arrival in WA seems to confirm this. However the 1841 census for Chew Magna lists Joseph Price [Snr], agricultural labourer, his wife Ann, with a family of seven children at that time. Joseph was their second eldest child, aged nine, indicating a birth date of 1832.
A record from Wilton Gaol in Taunton, Somerset, lists Joseph Price, a labourer, aged 14 [?], born at Chew Magna in Somerset, convicted on 16 October 1849. He was described as 5’3” tall, with a fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, with a small scar between his eyes and another on the crown of his head. He had a large brown mark on his shoulder.
On arrival at Fremantle WA he was described as single, age 20, 5’7”, with brown hair, dark grey eyes, a round face, stout build, with no distinguishing marks. No record has been found of him re-offending in Western Australia. He was given his Ticket of Leave on 1 May 1853, soon after his arrival. The date of his Conditional Pardon was 7 April 1875.
His Last Years
Newspaper articles celebrating his longevity appeared in his later years and inform us of his employment history:
…Six years ago another inmate of the Home, the late Michael Malone, reached the century mark. Tuesday’s happy event, and the recalling of the name of Michael Malone, brings news also of another centurian in Joseph Price, of Mellenbye Station, on the Murchison. Joseph was born in Bristol, on July 16, 1829, and arrived at Fremantle on board the Pyrenees II on April 30, 1853. He sought work at Guildford, and found it, then later had employment in York and Northam. He walked from the last-named place to Geraldton, and worked there for John Stokes. He was also employed at Yuin and Thundilarra, and in ’89 went to work for the late H. Broad, of Mellenbye Station, where he has been located for the past 43 years.
MURCHISON IDENTITY’S DEATH – LATE JOE PRICE, OF MELLENBYE
To many people of the Murchison the late Joe Price, of Mellenbye Station, was well known, and they will hear of his death, which occurred on Sunday, with the deepest regret, for the venerable old gentleman was held in the highest esteem. The deceased had been employed on Mellenbye Station for about forty-five years, and he was an old man when he first became associated with the station. Some time ago, when, he claimed to be approaching the age of 104 years, some doubting Thomases challenged the statement, and according to an interesting account of the old man’s life, which appeared in the “West Australian”, steps were taken to ascertain exactly when and where he was born. The inquiry, made through London, elicited the information that there was no compulsory registration of birth when the old man was born, but a copy of his baptismal certificate had been procured and was forwarded for information. This document is dated February 26th, 1832, and was issued at Chew Magna, Somerset, England. It shows him as having been christened on that date by the Rev. John Rawes, curate of the parish, his parents’ names being Joe and Ann respectively. The deceased, it appeared, was born on July 10th, 1829, and was accordingly several months past the age of 104 years when he died.
His association with Mellenbye Station was a long and interesting one. On the part of his employers there was a kindly consideration and affection for an old employee, who was in fact more like a friend of the family, and was indeed a privileged employee, who took a keen and personal interest in the station and in the members of the family who owned it. When Joe first entered the employ of the late Mr H. Broad, sen., at Mellenbye, in 1889, he was sixty years of age, and it is stated that realising he had found a good boss he determined to hang on to the job. When Mr. H. Broad, sen. passed away the old man’s engagement was continued by the sons, who had the greatest affection for him, and the place would not have seemed the same without him. For years he continued to do odd jobs around the place, and was always of a most industrious nature, earning his tucker, and his daily tot of rum. About a year ago he was persuaded to have his photograph taken, and it is related that he grumbled about being interrupted at his work to pose for the photographer. He admitted that he was “damned old.” but said he did not feel it, and could still “pull his weight”. Naturally he had many interesting stories to relate, and although in late years his eyesight began to fail him, his memory continued good, and he was quite clear with regard to events in his long life.
He worked as a farm hand as a lad and a young man in Somerset and in 1853 came to Western Australia by the sailing ship Pyrenees under Captain Benjamin Freeman. Four days after landing he set out on foot for York, and for several years, was engaged in farming work in that district by several well-known colonists. In the sixties he walked to Champion Bay (Geraldton) and with the inauguration of the pastoral industry on the Murchison he found employment in it, and continued in it ever afterwards. During the last 61 or 62 years of his life he was only at two places, Yarragadee for seventeen years and Mellenbye since 1889. The old man was a prime favourite not only with the Broad family and the regular employees on the station, but with all the visitors, and as may be imagined everything possible was done to render his later years as happy and as comfortable as possible. In this respect Mr. and Mrs. Carnsew did much to gladden his closing days.
The news of his death was received with great regret, and there was a large gathering at the funeral, which took place on Monday afternoon at Yalgoo. The chief mourners were Messrs D. E., H. F., and W. J. Broad; with younger members of the family, whilst the staffs of Mellenbye and Wagga Stations were also present at the grave-side. The funeral service was conducted by the Rev. R. W. Laurie, of Greenough who motored through to Yalgoo with Mr. D. E. Broad from Walkaway.
The Broad family showed respect for their old employee by erecting the headstone at the Yalgoo Cemetery.
Photo taken at Yalgoo Cemetery in 2007 by PA Morcom.
Joseph Price, aged 104, who died recently on a station south-west of Yalgoo.
He did not marry and was neither teetotaller nor non-smoker.
 West Australian, 22 May 1929.
 Claim a Convict website, https://www.hawkesbury.net.au/claimaconvict
 UK National Archives, Somerset Gaol Registers, Wilton Gaol Description Book, 1841-53.
 Convict Department, Estimates and Convict Lists (128/1-32)
 Fremantle Prison Convict Register https://fremantleprison.com.au/history-heritage/history/convict-database/
 Sunday Times, 28 May 1932.
 Geraldton Guardian and Express, 7 December 1933.
 Find a Grave website, https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2520368/memorial-search
 Western Mail, 4 Jan 1934.