PRICE, Robert (1655-1733), of Foxley, Yazor, Herefs.
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Family and Education
b. 14 Jan. 1655, 1st s. of Thomas Price of Y Giler, Cerrigydrudion, Denb. by Margaret, da. and coh. of Thomas Wynne of Bwlchybeudy, Denb. educ. Ruthin g.s.; St. John’s, Camb., adm. 28 Mar. 1672, aged 17; L. Inn 1673, called 1679; travelled abroad 1677-9. m. 23 Sept. 1679, Lucy, da. and coh. of Robert Rodd of Foxley, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. gdfa. 1670.1
Alderman, Hereford 1683-Oct. 1688, recorder, New Radnor 1684-d.; attorney-gen. S. Wales 1684-9; town clerk, Gloucester 1685-7; steward, Shrewsbury 1685-Jan. 1688; member, council in the marches of Wales 1686-9; j.p. Herefs. 1687-d., Merion., Glos. and S. Wales 1687-9; commr. for assessment, Herefs. 1689, Denb., Mont. and Merion. 1689-90; second justice, Brecon circuit 1700-2; bencher, L. Inn 1701.2
Steward to Queen Catherine of Braganza 1685-1702; baron of the Exchequer 24 June 1702-26; j.c.p. 1726-d.3
Price’s family had been landowners in Denbighshire since Tudor times. One of the senior branch sat three times for Merioneth in the 16th century. Price’s grandfather married a sister of Sir Richard Lloyd I; though a neutral in the Civil War, he was named assessment commissioner in 1657. Price became a successful lawyer, closely associated with the Duke of Beaufort (Henry Somerset), to whom he wrote: ‘It has been one of the greatest blessings of my life to be known to your grace, and to have upon all occasions access to you, and your countenance’. In 1681 he acquired his Herefordshire estate, four miles from Weobley, buying out the other Rodd coheirs for £3,000. His appointments to the Hereford corporation under the new charter and as attorney-general of South Wales were doubtless due to Beaufort. He was returned to James II’s Parliament on the Tomkyns interest as a court supporter. He was probably an active Member, to whom should be assigned most of the 13 committee references to ‘Mr Price’, including those for the repair of Bangor cathedral and the naturalization of Huguenot refugees. On 29 June 1685 he acted as teller against the bill for the compulsory registration of births, marriages and deaths of the nobility and gentry.4
Price’s career suffered its first check in 1687, when he was dismissed as town clerk of Gloucester for refusing to read the dispensation from the oaths. Later he was closeted by Lord Chancellor Jeffreys over the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Act.
I told my lord chancellor that I was a member of the Church of England, and would not do that act which would destroy it. He said the Church would be secure. I asked him, if the Act of Uniformity were repealed, what would become of the Church. Some time after, I was brought to the King, to whom I answered that I would serve him with my life and fortune or anything in my power, provided it were not injurious to the Church of England.
Price lost his post as steward of Shrewsbury under the new charter of 1 Jan. 1688, but no further action was taken. Beaufort, as lord lieutenant, noted that his opinion on the Penal Laws was already known to the King; nevertheless, he was retained in office and on the Herefordshire commission of the peace, and approved as court candidate for Weobley. Price tersely commented that ‘the King’s recommendation [is] a prejudice to those he recommended’. At the Revolution he subscribed £20 to the Herefordshire loan to the Prince of Orange. On 7 Jan. 1689 he was confident that he had twice as many voters as the other candidate, James Morgan. Then the blow fell; Sir John Morgan found Price’s name marked ‘in the King’s roll’ as favourable to the repeal of the Test and the Penal Laws, and his support crumbled overnight. At the poll he was defeated by 53 votes to 47. On the advice of (Sir) Edward Harley he lodged a petition with the committee of elections, but, finding that the chairman John Birch and (Sir) William Gregory were hostile, he withdrew it before the report stage.5
Price regained his seat at the general election of 1690 and became a prominent Tory under William III. His famous speech against the grant of the honour of Denbigh to the Earl of Portland gained him the reputation of a Welsh patriot, and he refused the association in 1696. He owed his appointment as baron of the Exchequer to Robert Harley II, and his two sons in turn represented Weobley as Tories under Queen Anne. He was transferred to the common pleas by George II, in whose favour, while Prince of Wales, he had given an opinion against the King regarding the education of his family. He died in office on 2 Feb. 1733, and was buried at Yazor.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: John. P. Ferris
- 1. DWB, 790; E. Curll, Life, 2; Harl. 1971, f. 26v.
- 2. CSP Dom. Jan.-July 1683, p. 346; 1685-6, p. 338; SP44/335/418; PC2/72/567.
- 3. Beaufort mss, Price to Beaufort, 20 Apr. 1683; CSP Dom. 1683-4, p. 375; 1684-5, p. 232; W. R. Williams, Gt. Sessions in Wales, 143-4.
- 4. Arch. Camb. (ser. 3), vi. 122; xv. 7-8, 104; Cooke, Herefs. iv. 190.
- 5. A. Simpson, ‘The Convention Parliament 1688-9’ (Oxf. D. Phil. thesis, 1939), pp. 22-23; Bodl. Carte 130, ff. 24, 319; BL Loan 29/184, ff. 121, 125, 140 (Price to Harley, 22, 30 Jan. 1689); Add. 40621, f. 20v; PC2/72/567.
- 6. Feiling, Tory Party, 318.