PRICE, Richard I (c.1538-c.87), of The Priory, Brecon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1538, 2nd or 3rd s. of Sir John Price† by Joan, da. of John Williams alias Cromwell, of Southwark, Surr.; bro. of Gregory. educ. Oxf. BA 1555; G. Inn 1555. m. ?Elizabeth, da. and coh. of William Wightman, s.p.1
Bailiff, Brecon 1570-1, 1581-2; sheriff, Brec. 1565-6, 1571-2, Nov. 1586-d., custodian of arms 1570, j.p., commr. musters, and for victualling Ireland 1574, custos rot. by 1575.2
Price’s father was one of the chief Welsh agents of Thomas Cromwell, his relative by marriage, in carrying out the union with England, the dissolution of the Welsh monasteries and the planting of the Reformation there. He was richly rewarded with monastic estates in Breconshire, Herefordshire and elsewhere. The Herefordshire and other estates went to his eldest son Gregory, but Richard, either in his father’s lifetime or by arrangement with the heir, received most of those in Breconshire, including houses, lands and tithes in and around the town which had belonged to Brecon priory. The mansion which had arisen on the Priory site itself became his residence, and remained in the family till the male line died out in the eighteenth century. But the tithes proved ‘greatly decayed’, and could hardly meet the charges of repairing the priory church (used by the parish) and maintaining a curate. Price also had lands in Radnorshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and he made further purchases, some of them from Sir Roger Vaughan, his parliamentary colleague for the shire. Between 1567 and 1576 he took out crown leases of oak woods and other lands from the former estates of the Duke of Buckingham as well as in the crown lordship of Brecon, and in 1586 secured a joint lease of mining rights for coal in the wastes of the manor of Dinas, embracing Trefecca and Talgarth. At the musters of 1570 he was charged with ‘one light horseman furnished’.3
Of his father’s valuable collection of manuscripts, the volumes of Welsh poetry went to Gregory, while Richard was allotted ‘all my written books of history and humanities’ including the manuscript of Sir John’s learned reply to Polydore Vergil defending traditional accounts of early Welsh history. This he was enjoined to publish, and he received an annuity of £20 a year for five years, with a lump sum of 20 marks, to encourage him in that work and in the care of his younger brother John, who was to be brought up as a scholar if he showed aptitude. The book was published in 1573 under the title Historiae Britannicae Defensio; incorporated in Powel’s Historie of 1584, it remained the basis of Welsh historiography till the nineteenth century. The tradition that Richard Price was himself a man of letters and an associate of Shakespeare lacks foundation.
In his will, dated 10 Nov. 1586 and proved by his widow, the sole executrix, on 4 Feb. following, Price left £40 to provide work for the poor of Brecon and 20s. for repairs to the church. The only book mentioned in the long and detailed will is Fitzherbert’s abridgement of the laws. The supervisors of the will were ‘my dear friend Mr. Robert Davy’ and ‘my dear and loving cousin Mr. David Williams’. Price was in good health when he made his will, but was dead by 16 Jan. 1587 when the Earl of Leicester asked for the selection of his successor as sheriff to be delayed. His brother Gregory succeeded him as sheriff in February 1587.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. DWB ; T. Jones, Brec. ii. 139-40; iv. 306; Mdx. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lxv), 34 gives Wm. Wightman’s s.-in-law as John Price, 2nd s. of Sir John.
- 2. Jones, iv. 306; Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 69, 109, 126, 213; SP12/93.
- 3. Augmentations, ed. Lewis and Davies (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiii), 203, 207-8, 210, 211, 216, 220; J. Lloyd, Hist. Mem. Brec. ii. 43-5; PCC 39 More, 9 Spencer; Jones, loc. cit.; Arch. Camb. (ser. 4), xiii. 275-80; Burke, Peerage (sub Camden); Flenley, 75.
- 4. PCC 9 Spencer; DWB; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 381.