Sunday May 16, 2021
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LLANGEINOR – Famous ancestor


richardpriceRichard Price was born at Tyn Ton farm Llangeinor on February 23rd in 1723.

Richard’s early life in Llangeinor is not too well documented, but we do know that he spent much of his early childhood riding in the surrounding mountains and had a reputation as a fearless rider who loved his horses. He spent his summer holidays at the farms of relatives in Southerndown and Ogmore By Sea where he learnt to rock climb and loved to go swimming in the sea. He also visited family at Brombil Farm in Margam, (there is a window pane at Brombil Farm with the name ‘Richard Price’ scratched into it).

Richard initially went to school in Bridgend before being moved to a school in Neath. and finally completed his education at Talgarth and Pentwyn.  He was never close to his father but was greatly affected by the death of his mother when he was still only 18 years old. Her death brought him closer to God and he decided he wanted to become a priest. He wrote to an uncle in London for help in his training and was invited to stay. Unfortunately, Richard had no money to pay for the stage coach to get to London so asked his elder brother John Price, who was by now a very prosperous man for help. John replied “ If you are determined to go to London,  I suppose I will lend you a horse as far as Cardiff”. When Richard got to Cardiff he stabled the horse and continued to London on foot managing to get lifts on carts and coaches along the way.

On arrival in London he managed to rent a room above a Barber’s shop in Pudding Lane. Whenever he had enough money to pay for the stage coach home he would spend time with his sisters in Bridgend and enjoying his favourite sports of riding, swimming and walking. The only portrait of him was painted when Richard was recovering from a nasty fall from his horse: he was apparently in a lot of pain when it was painted, which friends say gave the stern look in the picture for he was always much more fun than this painting depicts!

When Richard finished his studies he got a position as Chaplain to a Mr Streatfield, a wealthy man with a large family, and became a great friend of them all. It was through the Streatfields that Richard met many influential people who became lifelong friends. He became friends with Benjamin Franklin (who was one of the men who later helped form the United States of America). In 1756 he married Sarah Blundell, of Belgrave, Leicestershire. She did not have the best of health and they were unable to have children.

Richard was a strong believer in human rights and equal opportunities and wrote many papers on the subject which were not popular with the government in this country at the time. Richard quoted the Bible that all men had been created equal, but this was regarded as a dangerous idea by all the wealthy powerful men of that period who didn’t want to share their wealth, power or education with the poor.  The fact that Richard’s ideals were not popular with many of the rich and powerful did not stop the Prime Minister William Pitt regularly asking Richard for his advice on various government matters. Pitt never acknowledged Price’s help publicly but in 1782 he offered Richard the post of Private Secretary, but with typical modesty Price turned the offer down.

Richard wrote a book on Civil Liberty and soon after it was published, he was approached by the Duke of Cumberland who stated “Price! I have read your damned book until I am blind!  Richard responded: “Well my Lord, that is indeed remarkable, for I have been told it has opened the eyes of mankind!”

In 1773 Richard wrote a public letter to the American people supporting their cause for Self Government. In it he declared that that they should not submit to ‘taxation without representation’ and that “He would rather throw English tea into the sea than pay an unjust tax upon it to an unjust government”. As a direct result of this letter Americans in Boston boarded three ships: the Eleanor, the Beaver, and the Dartmouth, and threw 45 tons of tea into the harbour! A point in history referred to as the Boston Tea Party!   This action prompted the British government to blockade Boston harbour and it was this event which triggered the start of the American Revolution.

On July 4, 1776 the men in charge of 13 states in America met in congress and signed a Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. Some of the wording used in this letter of independence was inspired by the writings and philosophy of Richard Price.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

In 1776 Richard received a letter from the newly formed American Congress inviting him and his wife to take up full American citizenship with a salary and land if he would become their Financial Regulator (Chancellor of the Exchequer). Price turned down this most generous offer declaring himself too old for the travel.

Richard Price, despite all his political writings was still a practising Minister of the Church and went every day to preach all over London. He always dressed in a black riding outfit and rode a one-eyed white pony. It was while riding to church one day that he saw a man struggling in the river; Richard galloped his horse further downstream, dismounted and handed his reins, hat, wig and coat to a nearby angler and dived in and saved the man. When he got him onto the riverbank, Richard discovered that the man had been attempting suicide because he had no money. Richard then gave him his purse and coat, mounted his horse, and continued on his way.

A friend wrote about Richard as being a good man who when out walking came across a bird trap with some birds caught in it. He released the birds and walked on, but a little further on he realised that his action could result in someone losing money or even starving by his actions, so he returned to the trap and put some gold coins in it!

His wife Sarah suffered a stroke in 1783 and was semi paralysed. Richard did all he could to ease her discomfort and spent a lot of time with her, playing cards and talking to her. Sarah died in 1786, and it took Richard a long time to cope with her loss.

Richard Price died at home in 1791 and was buried in Bunhill Fields cemetery in London. His tomb is as modest as the man it contains, but it is still standing.