Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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PRICE , WILLIAM ( 1800 - 1893 ), eccentric ;

b. 4 March 1800 at Ty'nycoedcae , in the parish of Rudry, Mon. , third son of the Rev. William Price and his wife, Mary . He attended school at Machen , and later became a medical pupil to Dr. Evan Edwards , Caerphilly . He entered the Royal College of Surgeons in 1820 , qualifying the following year. He practised at Nantgarw , Treforest , and Pontypridd , becoming very well known both as physician and surgeon . He claimed to be an arch-druid , and performed ancient rites on the Pontypridd rocking-stone. His dress consisted of a white tunic, covering a scarlet waistcoat, while his trousers were of green cloth. On his head he wore a huge fox skin. He practised free-love , advocated cremation , was a vegetarian, opposed vaccination and vivisection , scorned orthodox religion , despised the law and its administrators , and was a Chartist leader . After the Chartist march on Newport in 1839 , he escaped to France disguised as a woman, and became acquainted with Heine . His last visit to Paris was in 1860 . He was involved in innumerable lawsuits; in court he would refer to his young daughter, whom he styled ‘ Iarlles Morganwg ,’ as ‘my learned counsel.’ He was indicted at the Cardiff assizes in 1884 , before justice Stephens , with having attempted to cremate the body of his infant son , Iesu Grist . As a result of the trial, the legality of cremation was established. At the age of 83 he took as ‘companion’ Gwenllian Llewelyn , who became the mother of his two children, Iesu Grist the Second and Penelopen . He d. at Llantrisant on 23 Jan. 1893 , and his body was cremated in accordance with his explicit and detailed instructions.

Sources:

  • Islwyn ap Nicholas , A Welsh Heretic. Dr William Price, Llantrisant , Aberystwyth, 1973 .

Author:

Islwyn Ap Nicholas, Aberystwyth

Corrections and additions:

PRICE , WILLIAM ( 1800 - 1893 ; DWB , 794).

William Price was apprenticed to Evan Edwards and became a student at Bart's and at London Hospital , qualifying as a L.S.A. ( Sept. 1821 ) and M.R.C.S. ( Oct. 1821 ). He did not participate in the Chartist march on Newport . There is no evidence that he met Heine . He visited Boulogne in 1861 . It was before Justice Stephen that the trial was held at Glamorgan assizes , on the double charge: (i) of attempting to cremate the body instead of burying it, (ii) of attempting to cremate the body so as to prevent an inquest being held. Gwenllian Llewelyn was the mother of three of his children. His body was cremated but not exactly in accordance with the instructions given in his will.

Sources:

  • See further John Cule , ‘The eccentric Dr. W. Price of Llantrisant’, Morgannwg , VII, 98-119;
  • Bryan Davies in David Smith , ed., A People and a Proletariat essays in the history of Wales 1780-1980 , London, 1980 (1980) , 72-93.

Author:

Published date: 1959