Price, John (1734-1813) (DNB00)

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PRICE, JOHN (1734–1813), Bodley's librarian, son of the Rev. Robert Price of Llandegla, Denbighshire, was born in 1734 at Tuer, near Llangollen, Brecknockshire. He was educated there and at Jesus College, Oxford, matriculating on 26 March 1754, and graduating B.A. in 1757, M.A. in 1760, and B.D. in 1768. In 1757 he was appointed janitor of the Bodleian Library; from 1761 to 1763 he was sub-librarian, and in 1765 was made acting librarian by Humphrey Owen [q. v.], principal of Jesus College and Bodley's librarian, whose salary he received. On Owen's death in 1768 Price was chosen to succeed him as Bodley's librarian after a severe contest with William Cleaver [q. v.], (afterwards bishop of St. Asaph). From 1766 to 1773 he was curate of Northleigh, Oxfordshire, where he distinguished himself by appropriating the manuscript book of benefactions, which was sold with his library in June 1814. In 1775 he became curate of Wilcote in the same county; in 1782 he was presented to the living of Wollaston and Alvington, Gloucestershire, and in 1798 to that of Llangattock, Brecknockshire, by Henry Somerset, fifth duke of Beaufort, whom Price frequently visited at Badminton.

In 1787 Thomas Beddoes (1760–1808) [q. v.], reader in chemistry in the university, issued a printed ‘Memorial concerning the State of the Bodleian Library, and the Conduct of the Principal Librarian’ (4to, Brit. Mus.). In it he charged Price with incivility, frequent absence from the library, ignorance of foreign publications, and carelessness with regard to books in his charge. In consequence the curators resolved to hold terminal meetings for the purchase of books, inspection of catalogues, &c. On the other hand, Price's conduct as librarian was eulogised by many visitors to the library, both foreign and English. In 1797 he was elected F.S.A., and about the same time migrated to Trinity College, to which he is said to have made various benefactions. He lived in a small house in St. Giles's, where he died on 12 Aug. 1813, having been principal librarian at the Bodleian for forty-five years; he was buried at Wilcote, where a mural tablet was erected to his memory in the chancel; a portrait engraved by Swaine, after a sketch taken by the Rev. Henry Hervey Baber in 1798, is given in Nichols's ‘Illustrations of Literary History,’ v. 514.

Price's only publications were: ‘A short Account of Holyhead,’ contributed to Nichols's ‘Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica’ (vol. v. 1790, 4to); and ‘An Account of a Bronze Image of Roman Workmanship,’ &c., published in ‘Archæologia,’ vii. 405–7. Numerous letters from him to Gough, Nichols, Herbert, and Bishop Percy are printed in Nichols's ‘Illustrations of Literary History;’ and he kept a notebook which is frequently quoted in Macray's ‘Annals of the Bodleian Library.’ He was an intimate friend of Warton. Richard Mant [q. v.] in his edition of Warton's works acknowledged obligations to him, and he assisted Joseph Pote [q. v.] in the publication of the ‘Lives of Leland, Wood, and Hearne,’ 1772. He was godfather to Bulkeley Bandinel [q. v.], whom in 1810 he appointed sub-librarian at the Bodleian Library. Anna Seward [q. v.] dedicated vol. iv. of her ‘Anecdotes’ to Price in 1796.

[Nichols's Literary Anecdotes and Illustr. of Lit. Hist. passim; Macray's Annals of the Bodleian Library, passim; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Bodl. Addit. MS. A 64, f. 180; Serres's Life of Wilmot, p. 153; Dibdin's Bibliomania; Gent. Mag. 1813, ii. 400; Evans's Cat. Engraved Portraits.]

A. F. P.