Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Price, John (d.1573?)

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PRICE, ap PRICE, or ap RHYS, Sir JOHN (d. 1573?), visitor of the monasteries, was son of Rhys ab Gwilym by Gwenllian, daughter of Howel Madoc. His family was ancient. He is said to have been educated at Oxford, where one of his name, who must have been younger than Sir John, graduated bachelor of canon law on 8 July 1532. Another John ap Price was a servant of the king in 1519, and officiated as servitor at the coronation of Anne Boleyn. John Price entered one of the inns of court, and became a notary public and receiver of the king. From a statement of Rowland Lee [q. v.], it appears that Price had been some time in the service of the Earl Arundel as constable of Cloon Castle, and that for his employment he was promoted to be one of Cromwell's agents. In May 1532, when the Earls of Westmorland and Cumberland and Sir Thomas Clifford searched Tunstall's house at Auckland, Price looked into the manuscripts, and made a curious report to Cromwell. In 1533 he was employed under Cromwell. In 1534 he was registrar of Salisbury Cathedral. In April 1535 he took part in the proceedings against the Charterhouse monks as to the royal supremacy. He officiated in the same way at the trial of Fisher and More. His services were secured for the great visitation of the monasteries of 1535, and on the whole he seems to have acted with greater moderation than Sir Thomas Legh [q. v.], the colleague with whom he was chiefly associated, though he joined with him in suggesting the inhibition of the bishops. In a letter of 20 Aug. 1535 he criticised the regulations which Legh had made as to the shutting up of the inmates of the houses, showing how difficult it was to carry them out. He also gave Cromwell a curious description of Legh's method of conducting the visitation, which has been of service to historians, but evidence furnished by Dr. Gasquet renders his statements open to suspicion. At Cambridge on 22 Oct. 1535 he 'observed in the heads great pertinacity to their old blindness,' but continued, 'if they were gradually removed, learning would flourish here, as the younger sort be of much towardness.' After the visitation was over he drew up and attested the 'comperta.' When the pilgrimage of grace was quelled, he assisted in trying the rebels. For his many services he received in 1537-8 a joint lease of Carmarthen rectory, and a lease of Brecknock priory and rectory. He also bought the priory of St. Guthlac, Hereford. He was not, however, satisfied, and in a petition of 1538 asked for the manor of West Dereham. He had, he said, 'written professions of all prelates, persons, and bodies politic throughout this realm; divers instruments for my ladie Marie concerning the abdication of the Bishop of Rome's power and renunciation of appeals; divers great instruments, as well of the process of the divorce of Queen Anne as of the contract and solemnization of the same between the king and the most noble Queen Jane; wrote to the king the abridgements of the comperts of the late visitation,' and, after further services, he adds that he 'has ever since been occupied in the execution of traitors, felons, or heretics' (Letters and Papers Henry VIII, XIII. ii. 1225).

Price was encouraged by William Herbert, first earl of Pembroke [q. v.], and devoted himself to study. He took, however, some part in public affairs, and is stated to have been greatly occupied in the union of England and Wales, drafting or suggesting the petition on which the statutes were framed. He was sheriff of Brecknock in 1541, and lived chiefly at Brecon priory. He was knighted on 22 Feb 1546-7, and made one of the council for the Welsh marches in 1551. He died probably about 1573. He and his son Richard were patrons of Hugh Evans, and are said to have introduced him to Shakespeare; Richard gave Evans the living of Merthyr Cynog, Brecon, in 1572. Evans died in 1581, and made Richard Price the overseer of his will. He married Joan, daughter of John Williams of South wark, and had a family of five sons and two daughters. The Prices in the civil war took the royalist side, and Charles I after Naseby dined and slept at Brecon priory on 5 Aug. 1645.

Sir John Price wrote: 1. 'Historiae Britannicae Defensio,' composed about 1553, published by his son Richard in 1573, and dedicated to Lord Burghley; in part a protest against Polydore Vergil. 2. 'Description of Cambria,' translated and enlarged by Humphrey Lhuyd [q. v.], and published as part of the 'Historie of Cambria ' by David Powell [q. v.], 1584; other editions 1697, 1702, 1774, and 1812. 3. 'Fides Historian Britannicae,' a correction of Polydore Vergil (Brit. Mus. Cotton MS. Titus, F. iii. 17). 4. A tract on the restitution of the coinage, written in 1553; dedicated to Queen Mary (MS. New Coll. Oxon. Arch. MS. 317, iii.); in this tract he refers to a larger treatise on the same subject, which is not extant. He is also said to have translated and published the Lord's Prayer, Creed, and Ten Commandments in Welsh, for the first time. Many of his letters are preserved in the British Museum and the Record Office.

[Wood's Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 216-7; Reg. Univ. Oxf. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), i. 134, 169, 178; Jones's Hist, of Brecknockshire, n. i. III, &c.; Williams's Eminent Welshmen, p. 416; York's Royal Tribes of Wales, p. 89; Robinson's Castles and Mansions of Herefordshire, p. 162; Annals of the Counties and County Families of Wales; Warrington's Hist. of Wales; Wright's Suppression Letters (Camd. Soc.), p. 53, &c.; Metcalfe's Knights, p. 94; Reg. Univ. Oxf. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), i. 156, 669; Dixon's Hist. of the Church of Engl. i. 305-6, ii. 144, 213; Letters and Papers Henry VIII; Strype's Annals, III. i. 415, 744, Memorials, I. i. 321, ii. 216, II. i. 500, ii. 162, 329; Gasquet's Henry VIII and the Engl. Monasteries.]

W. A. J. A.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.227
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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329 i 5 f.e. Price, Sir John: for AP PRICE read AP RICE