PRICE, RICHARD (1723-1791), philosopher

Name: Richard Price
Date of birth: 1723
Date of death: 1791
Parent: Catherine Price (née Richards)
Parent: Rees Price
Gender: Male
Occupation: philosopher
Area of activity: Politics, Government and Political Movements; Scholarship and Languages; Education; Religion; Royalty and Society
Authors: Roland Thomas, Llewelyn Gwyn Chambers

Born 23 February 1723, at Tyn-ton, Llangeinor, Glamorganshire, son of Rees and Catherine Price. He was educated at Pen-twyn (Samuel Jones), Chance-field (Vavasor Griffiths), Moorfields (John Eames), and held pastorates at Newington and Hackney; he was a Presbyterian and an Arian.

When only 35, he published Review of the Principal Questions in Morals, 1758, anticipating the essential ethical doctrines of Kant. Annuity calculations led to F.R.S. (1765), and Reversionary Payments, 1771, with his 'Northampton Tables,' 1780, placed actuarial valuation for assurance and pensions on a scientific basis, William Morgan, his nephew, being trained by him. Four Dissertations, 1767, brought him a D.D. from Aberdeen (1767). Appeal … on the National Debt, 1772, urged the re-establishment of the Sinking Fund, which Pitt, seeking and receiving his advice (1786), did.

Promoting liberty everywhere, he championed religious toleration and parliamentary reform at home, supporting the Irish Volunteers and the Scottish Burgh reformers. He defended and advised the American Colonies; five months before the Declaration of Independence, Civil Liberty, 1776, with its political philosophy derived from his moral philosophy, lifted the American question from precedents and charters to the high ground of moral right, and had an enormous circulation; honours followed - the freedom of London (1776), a remarkable invitation from Congress to regulate the States' finances (1778), and Yale's LL.D. in sole company with Washington (1781); before the States framed their Constitution (1787) appeared his pamphlet of advice, Importance of the American Revolution, 1784, which, approvingly noted by leading Americans, almost certainly influenced the Constitution. Both pamphlets advocated the federal principle. Disclaiming republicanism for Britain, he welcomed the French Revolution (in its first stage) in Love for our Country , 1789, calling forth Burke's Reflections on the revolution in France, 1790, but supported by Paine's Rights of Man, 1791.

He gave a great deal of help to John Howard in the preparation of his book The State of Prisons. After the death of Thomas Bayes in 1761, he edited his papers on the principles of probability. This apparently led to Price's interest in the principles of insurance and premiums. He was a consultant to A society of equitable assurances on Lives and Survivorships, (subsequently The Equitable Life Assurance Society). He was responsible for ensuring that the Equitable was the first ever office to ensure that premiums depended on the age of the assured and that they were sufficient to meet future commitments. He was supportive of the idea of pensions for the elderly and sickness benefits; in 1789 a House of Commons committee invited him to prepare tables for these purposes.

For a period he was a tutor at the Nonconformist Academy that was established in Hackney in 1768, and he discussed matters like premiums and Newton's Principia with some of the students there.

Price's numerous friends and correspondents included Shelburne, Priestley, Hume, Adam Smith, Condorcet, Mirabeau, Turgot, Franklin, Jefferson, and Washington. He died 19 April 1791.

REES PRICE (1673 - 1739), 'gent,' Dissenting minister and tutor

Richard Price's father. Son of Rees Price, Betws, he was educated at Bryn-llywarch, succeeded (1697-1739) Samuel Jones, both as pastor, at Cildeudy, Bridgend, and Betws, and as tutor, at Tyn-ton. He was maternal uncle and testamentary guardian of Ann Maddocks (formerly Thomas, the 'Maid of Cefnydfa'), and signed her marriage settlement (1725).

SAMUEL PRICE (1676 - 1756), Dissenting minister

Richard Price's uncle, younger brother of Rees Price, educated at Bryn-llywarch and Attercliffe, became the colleague and faithful friend of Isaac Watts, as assistant (1703-13), and co-pastor (1713-48), and then succeeded him. He assisted in his nephew's education, befriended Welsh churches and ministers, and published sermons.



Published date: 1959

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