Price, Bonamy (DNB00)

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PRICE, BONAMY (1807–1888), economist, eldest son of Frederick Price of St. Peter's Port, Guernsey, was born there in May 1807. At the age of fourteen he was sent as a private pupil to the Rev. Charles Bradley [q. v.] of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, where Smith O'Brien was one of his fellow-pupils. He matriculated at Worcester College, Oxford, on 14 June 1825, graduated B.A., with a double first in classics and mathematics, in 1829, and proceeded M.A. in 1832. While he was an undergraduate at Oxford he was an occasional pupil of Dr. Arnold at Laleham, and formed a friendship with F. W. Newman, his brother, John Henry [q. v.] (afterwards Cardinal) Newman, and other leaders of the tractarian movement. In 1830 Arnold, then headmaster of Rugby, offered him the mathematical mastership at that school. In 1832 Price was appointed to a classical mastership, and given charge of a division of the fifth form. Six years later he succeeded Prince Lee, afterwards bishop of Manchester, in charge of the form known as ‘The Twenty.’ He retained this post under Tait, Arnold's successor, but resigned in 1850, shortly after Tait's appointment to the deanery of Carlisle.

From 1850 to 1868 Price resided in London, devoting himself to business affairs. He suffered for some months from a cerebral affection, but completely recovered. He served on the royal commissions on Scottish fisheries and the queen's colleges in Ireland. When the Drummond professorship of political economy at Oxford, to which elections are made for a term of five years, became vacant in 1868, Price was elected by convocation by a large majority over the former holder of the office, J. E. Thorold Rogers, who offered himself for re-election. Rogers had offended the conservative majority of convocation. Price held the professorship till his death, being thrice re-elected. He zealously devoted himself to his professorial duties. Master of a clear and incisive style, he lectured with comparative success. Courageous in the expression of his views, fond of controversy, though kindly in his treatment of opponents, he exercised a stimulating influence on his pupils. Prince Leopold, while resident in Oxford, frequently attended his lectures, and became much attached to him. Price also lectured in different parts of the country in connection with the movement for the higher education of women. He served on the Duke of Richmond's commission on agriculture, and on Lord Iddesleigh's commission on the depression of trade. At Cheltenham in 1878, and at Nottingham in 1882, he was president of the economical section of the social science congress. In 1883 he was elected honorary fellow of Worcester College. He died at his house in London on 8 Jan. 1888. He married, in 1864, the daughter of the Rev. Joseph Rose, vicar of Rothley, and granddaughter of Thomas Babington of Rothley Temple, Leicestershire, by whom he had five daughters.

Price possessed in a high degree the qualities of a successful schoolmaster. His power as an economist lay in exposition and criticism, not in original work. He made no important contribution to economic science. In his speech on the Land Law (Ireland) Bill on 7 April 1881, Mr. Gladstone referred to him, in connection with the Duke of Richmond's commission, as ‘the only man—to his credit be it spoken—who has had the resolution to apply, in all their unmitigated authority, the principles of abstract political economy to the people and circumstances of Ireland, exactly as if he had been proposing to legislate for the inhabitants of Saturn or Jupiter.’

Besides various pamphlets, Price published: 1. ‘Preface to Arnold's History of the Later Roman Commonwealth,’ 1845, 8vo. 2. ‘Suggestions for the Extension of Professorial Teaching in the University of Oxford’ [London, Rugby printed], 1850, 8vo. 3. ‘The Principles of Currency. Six Lectures delivered at Oxford … with a letter from M. Chevalier on the History of the Treaty of Commerce with France,’ London, printed at Oxford, 1869, 8vo. 4. ‘Currency and Banking,’ London, 1876, 8vo. 5. ‘Chapters on Practical Political Economy,’ &c., London, 1878, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1882, 8vo.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. (1715–1886) iii. 1146; Athenæum, 14 Jan. 1888, p. 50; Times, 9 Jan. 1888.]

W. A. S. H.