Price, Laurence (DNB00)

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PRICE, LAURENCE (fl. 1628–1680?), writer of ballads and political squibs, was a native of London, who compiled between 1625 and 1680 numberless ballads, pamphlets, and broadsides in verse on political or social subjects. During the civil wars he seems to have occasionally been a hanger-on of the parliamentary army, and published his observations (cf. Strange Predictions related at Catericke, 1648, and Englands unhappy Changes, 1648). He adapted his views to the times, and the godly puritan strain which he affected during the Commonwealth gave place to the utmost indecency after the Restoration. The fact that he published much anonymously, under the initials ‘L. P.,’ renders it difficult to identify his work. Many of his publications are lost; and the sixty-eight that are extant are all rare. Specimens of them may be found in the Thomasson collection of tracts at the British Museum, in the Pepysian collection at Magdalene College, Cambridge, or in the Roxburghe and Bagford collections of ballads at the British Museum. Most of the latter have been reprinted by the Ballad Society.

The earliest known ballad by Price is ‘Oh, Gramercy Penny, being a Lancashire Ditty, and chiefly pen'd to prove that a Penny's a Man's best Friend,’ London, printed by widow Trundle about 1625 (in the Pepys collection). Some of the titles of later ballads run: ‘The Bachelor's Feast’ (1635?), ‘The Young Man's Wish’ (1635?), ‘The Merry Conceited Lasse’ (1640?), ‘Cupid's Wanton Wiles’ (1640?), ‘The Life and Death of Sir Thomas Wentworth [i.e. Strafford]’ (1641), ‘Good Ale for my Money’ (1645?), ‘The Merry Man's Resolution,’ 1655, ‘The True Lovers' Holidaies’ (1655?), ‘The Famous Woman Drummer’ (1660?), and ‘Win at first, lose at last,’ celebrating the Restoration of 1660.

Price's prose pamphlets include: ‘Great Britaines Time of Triumph,’ on Charles I's visit to the city (1641); ‘A New Disputation between the two lordly Bishops of York and Canterbury’ (1642); ‘England's unhappy Changes,’ an appeal for peace (1648); ‘The Shepherd's Prognostication foretelling the Sad and Strange Eclipse of the Sun [on 29 March 1652]’ (1652); ‘The Astrologers Buggbeare,’ 1652; ‘Bloody Actions performed,’ an account of three murders—two by husbands of their wives (1653); ‘A Ready Way to prevent Sudden Death,’ 1655; ‘A Mass of Merry Conceites,’ 1656; ‘Make Roome for Christmas,’ 1657 (cf. Notes and Queries, 4th ser. ii. 549, iii. 185); ‘Fortune's Lottery, or a Book of News,’ 1657; ‘The Vertuous Wife is the Glory of her Husband,’ 1667; ‘The Famous History of Valentine and Orson,’ London, 1673; ‘Witty William of Wiltshire, his Birth, Life, and Education, and Strange Adventures,’ 1674, 12mo; ‘The Five Strange Wonders of the World,’ 1674; ‘A Variety of New Merry Riddles,’ 1684.

[There are imperfect attempts at a bibliography of Price in Ebsworth's Bagford Ballads, i. 263 and 248, and Hazlitt's Handbook, pp. 479–81. Several but by no means all the Roxburghe Ballads are reprinted in Chappell's Roxburghe Ballads (Ballad Soc.), in Ebsworth's Bagford Ballads, and in the Amanda group (Ballad Soc.).]

W. A. S.