The life of Joseph Priest.

The Eldest Son From Daniel's First Marriage

Joseph Priest was born on December 20th, 1825 at 8.20pm, as stated in a handwritten family history, which goes on to state that Joseph was born in Wolverhampton. But this is incorrect, as the 1841 census records that Joseph was born outside the county of Staffordshire. Then it continues; "Joseph Priest was the child of strict Episcopal parents, who were both frugal and thrifty. Joseph became a gifted artist, in addition to his trade as a japanner and papier-mâché worker."

From this handwritten family history, it appears that not only was Joseph a gifted painter, but also played the violin. A country scene that Joseph painted, along with his violin, was kept for many years. But, as with most family memorabilia, they seem to have vanished over the years. However, a pocket watch of Joseph's , purchased on one of his many trips back to England is still the treasured possession of his grandson. The description of the watch is as follows:

On the cover is a crown and the letters DSD, as well as B.D & Co. Inside, there is the signature W. Ehrhartt and the stamp name ROCKLEY. The watch is 18K gold.

Joseph too, was to marry twice. Joseph's first wife was a Maria Staley. The marriage took place on 26th February, 1848, and according to the handwritten history:

Maria's father Richard Staley, founded the Staley Pottery Works, and was quite wealthy.

It appears that it was this money that financed Joseph's beginnings in his own Japanning business. Maria Staley was born on 6 January 1827, in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire. By the time of her marriage she was residing at Aston Manor, and the marriage took place at Aston. Their first child was born on 24th April, 1849 in the parish of Hartshone near Burton-on-Trent, as the following entry shows.

24th April 1849 at Midway, Parish of Hartshone, near Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Richard Edgar Staley, Son of Joseph and Maria Staley Priest, Japanner (24).

According to the handwritten history, it was just two years after his mother's death, when Joseph, Maria and their newly born son, Richard Edgar, set sail for America. But even the journey out to America was a more traumatic event than usual, as the history goes on to state:

Joseph sailed alone from Glasgow, Scotland, and landed in Philidelphia, P.A. in 1849.

The shipping records confirm this as one entry shows:

Supplemental Atlantic & Gulf States 1820-1874
Fort of Philadelphia
Joseph_Priest, 23 years, S.S. William Penn
7th June, 1849.

A later entry for this same port reads:

Maria Priest, 22 years S.S. Savanah
22nd September 1849

They tended not to list very young children and babies.

It is likely, that Maria waited until the baby was a little older, before attempting to undertake such a long hazardous voyage. Meanwhile, Joseph had made his way to New York City, and that is where his wife and son were later to join him. These facts are born out by the US census for 1850:

Joseph Priest, age 25, born England, Artist
Maria Priest, age 23, born England
Edgar Priest, age 1, born England
Hotel, 25 Bowery, New York Cit

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