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Isabella Price (1830 – 1920) Consumptive Hospital Matron
Isabella Price is an example of one of the many Christian women whose contribution to NSW society and to the ministry of the Christian Church has gone unrecorded and unacknowledged. Her work was largely unrecognised in her own day and what recognition was given to her area of service was overshadowed by others.
Isabella Price was the matron of the Goodlet Consumptive Home from its opening in September 1877 until July 1894. This Home was a private charity set up, funded and run by the Scottish born Sydney merchant, manufacturer, philanthropist and churchman John Hay Goodlet. John and Ann Goodlet began the Home in a leased former hotel at Picton in September of 1877 and it could cater for 18 patients. Both males and females were admitted and the only requirement for admission was that the persons were poor and consumptive. Such was the demand for places in the Goodlet Home that in 1884 the Goodlets began to plan a purpose built facility at Thirlmere which could cater for 40 patients again at no cost to those admitted. It was opened in September 1886. The construction cost of the home was fully met by the generosity of the Goodlets. They did not spare any expenditure on either the construction of the Home or in its recurrent costs and they even paid for the burials of the many who died there. In the period 1877 to 1893 when the Goodlets ran the hospital some 940 patients were admitted with 233 patients dying within the facility.
It was of this facility that Isabella Price was the matron. Little is known of Isabella Price other than that her work was highly esteemed by the Goodlets and the patients. Isabella was born in 1831 in Barrackpore, Calcutta India to Andrew and Elizabeth Marr (nee Peters). Her father was the Park Superintendent at Barrackpore and died before she was one and her mother died when she was seven. Her mother must have had a difficult life, being first married in 1821 (Daniel Desmond) and again in 1824 (George Dougherty) and then to Isabella’s father in 1825. On the death of Andrew Marr in 1831 she then married again in 1832 (John Gash) and she herself died in 1838. When Isabella was 14 she and her step sister were orphaned through her step father’s death in 1844. It is unknown what happen to Isabella but her step sister was consigned to the European Female Orphans Asylum where she died two years later. Thus at the age of 16 Isabella was left with no family.