Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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PRYCE-JONES, Sir PRYCE (PRYCE JONES until 1887; 1834-1920), pioneer of mail order business;

b. Pryce Jones, Newtown, Monts., 16 Oct. 1834, second son of William Jones, solicitor, and Mary Ann Goodwin, whose father was a cousin of Robert Owen, the social reformer. After being apprenticed at the age of 12 to a Newtown draper, he established his own business in 1859, in which year he m. Eleanor Rowley Morris. He began his mail order business by sending patterns to the local gentry, then lists and ultimately catalogues to all classes of people all over the world, inviting orders by post. From the early 1860s he displayed Newtown's famous Welsh flannel at Welsh National Eisteddfodau, and at great exhibitions in the world's greatest cities — Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Vienna, Melbourne, and Philadelphia among them-gaining many awards and attracting a large volume of orders, ultimately claiming over 300,000 customers worldwide, Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria, and practically every royal household in Europe among them. He made extensive use of the railways to distribute his goods, developing his own parcel post system and advising the government when it introduced the Post Office Parcels Act 1882. In 1879 he opened a magnificent new Royal Welsh Warehouse near the railway station at Newtown.

He was knighted in Queen Victoria's Jubilee Honours 1887, and changed his name to Pryce Pryce-Jones. He represented the Montgomery Boroughs as Conservative M.P. 1885-86 and 1892-95. He was High Sheriff of the county in 1891. He d. at Newtown 11 Jan. 1920, and was buried in Llanllwchaearn churchyard.

Sources:

  • The Biograph , 1880, 206-8;
  • various issues of the The Montgomeryshire Express .

Author:

Maurice Richards, (1921-89), Newtown

Published date: 2001