PRICE, Ellis (by 1514-94), of Plas Iolyn and Ysbyty Ifan, Denb.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. by 1514, 2nd s. of Robert ap Rhys of Plas Iolyn by Margaret, da. of Rhys Lloyd of Gydros, Merion. educ. St. Nicholas Hostel, Camb., BCL 1533, DCL 1534. m. (1) Catherine, da. of Thomas Conway of Bodrhyddan, Flints., 1s.; (2) Ellyw, da. of Owain Pool, rector of Llandecwyn, Merion., 2s. 4da.; at least 2s. illegit.1
Visitor to monasteries, Wales 1535; chancellor, dioceses of St. Asaph c.1537-8, Bangor 1560; commissary gen. St. Asaph in 1538; j.p.q. Merion. 1543, 1555-d., Denb. 1555-d., Caern. 1561-d., Anglesey, Mont. 1564, most Welsh counties by 1575, all Welsh counties and Mon. by 1579; sheriff, Denb. 1548-9, 1556-7, 1568-9, 1572-3, Merion. 1551-2, 1555-6, 1563-4, 1567-8, 1573-4, 1578-9, 1583-4, Caern. 1558-9, Anglesey 1577-8, 1585-6; commr. for visitation of St. David’s diocese 1549, relief, Merion. 1550, eisteddfod, Caerwys, Flints. 1568, musters, Denb., Merion. 1570, 1580; custos rot. Merion. 1558/59-77 or later; member, council in the marches of Wales 1560-d.; steward, Earl of Leicester’s Denbigh lordship from c.1564; master in Chancery extraordinary.2
Ellis Price’s grandfather Rhys ap Meredydd fought under Henry Tudor at Bosworth and his father Robert ap Rhys prospered as chaplain and crossbearer to Wolsey. After a successful academic career which gave him the name by which he became known throughout Wales, Y Doctor Coch (the Red Doctor), Price may have profited from this connexion with the cardinal to enter the service of Thomas Cromwell who in 1535 placed him on the commission to visit religious houses in Wales. His colleagues Adam Bekinsau and John Vaughan complained that his immorality and arrogance unfitted him for such employment and despite the intervention of Bishop Lee, president of the council in the marches, he was dismissed. He was not long in disgrace, becoming chancellor and commissary general of the diocese of St. Asaph. About 1537 or 1538 he was sued in Chancery by the vicar of Llanarmon, Denbighshire, who complained that John Lloyd of Llanarmon, aided and abetted by his kinsman Price had misappropriated tithes. Lloyd and Price were again confederates in an assault upon the Welsh scholar William Salusbury of Llanrwst, Denbighshire, who was Price’s brother-in-law.3
As commissary general of St. Asaph, Price was engaged during 1538 in the destruction of images and the eradication of superstitious practices; he seems to have relished the work, reporting to Cromwell on 6 Apr. that
I have done my diligence and duty for the expulsing and taking away of certain abusions, superstitions and hypocrisies used within the said diocese ... [but] there is an image of ‘Darfel Gardarn’ within the said diocese, in whom the people have so great confidence, hope and trust that they come daily a pilgrimage unto him.
By the end of the month Price had seen to the dismantling of the image and sent it to London despite the offer of a £40 bribe to leave it alone. It was used at Smithfield to fulfil the prophecy that it would one day set a forest on fire—the Franciscan martyr John Forest.4
By 1549, when Cranmer commissioned him to visit the vacant diocese of St. David’s, Price had also become involved in secular administration as a justice of the peace and sheriff, the first of his 14 shrievalties in four counties. Said to have at first favoured Jane Grey in 1553, Price made such a prompt change of allegiance, himself proclaiming Mary, that he remained a trusted servant of the crown. No evidence has been found to support the statement that he was returned for Merioneth to the Parliament of 1555, but he certainly sat in Mary’s last Parliament. On 25 Feb. 1558 he was licensed by the Speaker ‘to be absent for the Queen’s affairs for musters’.5
Price’s nephew John Wyn ap Cadwaladr sat for Merioneth in the first Parliament of the new reign and Price himself was returned to that of 1563, being again granted leave of absence on 15 Mar. 1563. By this time he had become a member of the council in the marches and he was soon the leading agent for the Earl of Leicester in Denbighshire and Merioneth. He died on 8 Oct. 1594.