Price Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Price Meaning
Price and Pryce are surnames common among those of Welsh
ancestry, as they are an anglicized form of the Welsh patronymic ap
meaning “son of Rhys.” Rhys also left the surnames Rees, Rice and
Preece. Pryce continues to be a variant spelling of Price.

Price Resources on

Select Price Ancestry

Wales. The Prices of Rhiwlas in present day Gwynedd have an ap Rhys lineage dating back to the 11th century. Rhys ap Meredydd (Rhys Fawr) fought for Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field in 1485 and was suitably rewarded. The Price spelling was adopted sometime around 1600. This family remained influential in what was then Merionethshire until the 20th century.

The Pryces
of Montgomeryshire
with Rhys who was slain during the Wars of
the Roses in 1469. The line continued
various sheriffs during the 16th and 17th centuries and Sir John Pryce
of Newton Hall, MP and baronet,
and ended in 1791. However
, Montgomeryshire continued to be an outpost for the
Pryce name. Elsewhere the Price spelling had become the norm.

By the
19th century, more Welsh Prices were to be found in Glamorgan in south
Wales. Thomas Price was one of the three partners in the
Dowlais inronworks in the 1760’s (said to have been the largest in the
world at that time). Many Prices remained in the area.

England. Prices crossed the border into England:

  • Prices from Montgomeryshire settled in
    Shropshire in the 16th century. Thomas Price was vicar of
    Shrewsbury and
    his son, the Rev. Thomas Price, was chaplain to Charles I before he
  • while Robert Price from
    Denbighshire, a prominent lawyer and judge, acquired the Foxley estate in Herefordshire in
    1691. His descendant
    Sir Uvedale Price wrote with some persuasion about architecture and
    design a
    hundred years later.

The Prices of Trengwainton in Cornwall
descended from the Welsh
plantation owners in Jamaica. Many of them served in the British
army. Dennis Price was a film and TV actor in the 1950’s and

also emerged, independently of the Welsh, as a surname in southeast
England. It is thought possibly to have derived there from the
Old French
pris and denoted someone who set prices.

By the time of the 1881 census, the largest number of Prices in
England was in Staffordshire and Lancashire.

America. John

came to Jamestown in Virginia either in 1611 or 1620. His
were Virginia planters until the time of the Civil War

One line under Captain John Price
migrated to Kentucky in the 1790’s.
Samuel W. Price, born there, was a Union General during the
Civil War. He, however, lost his sight in
his later
years. Other Price lines were to be
found in Missouri.
Price became Governor of Missouri in 1852.
Known to his troops as “Old Pap,” he ended up a General on the
Confederate side
in the Civil War. His two sons Edwin and
Celsus were both colonels in the Confederate army.

Francis Price from Wales
was an army captain
in the English capture of Jamaica in 1655.
He stayed on and his descendants grew wealthy from Rose Hall and
their other
Jamaican sugar plantations.

Welsh Pryces were reported in Jamaica in the
1850’s. George Pryce left Jamaica for
America as a young man in the 1880’s and graduated as a young “black”
doctor in
Tennessee. He went on to found Pryce’s
Pharmacy in Los Angeles, a drugstore on the corner of Pryce Street
which is run
by his grandson today.

Canada. William Price was a
pioneer of the Canadian lumber trade. Coming from an impoverished
family in London, he arrived in Quebec in 1810 as a young man with a
mandate to
supply lumber for the British navy. In the succeeding years, his
became synonymous with the development of the Seguenay region as a
producer. The family pulp and paper empire continued into the
century. The old company headquarters, Price House, is today a
in Quebec City and the location of the Quebec Premier’s official


Price Miscellany

The Prices of Rhiwlas.  The
Prices of Rhiwlas in north Wales can trace their
ancestry back to the early 11th century and Marchwesthian, a prince and
chieftain of the House of ap Rhys at Rhiwlas.

ap Meredydd (Rhys Fawr) fought for Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field in
He was a huge man and, according to legend, slew the English King
Richard III
with his own hands.  His son Sir Robert ap Rhys served Henry VII
and was a
cross-bearer to Cardinal Wolsey in the 1530’s.

The Price name, or initially the Welsh Prys or Pryse version, was
adopted sometime in the 1570’s.  William Price was an MP for
Merioneth in
1636 and was later a captain in the Royalist army.
The Price family remained influential in
Merionethshire during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Pryces of Montgomeryshire

Rhys slain in 1469
Thomas Pryce
sheriff of Montgomery in 1548
John Pryce sheriff of Montgomery in 1566-86
Edward Pryce sheriff of Montgomery in 1615
Sir John Pryce baronet and MP in 1640
Sir Matthew Pryce baronet and sheriff in 1659-60

had been killed fighting in the War of the Roses
on King Edward IV’s side at the Battle of Danesmoor in Northamptonshire
in 1469.

John Price of Jamestown.  John Price from
Montgomeryshire, aged 36, arrived at Jamestown in 1620 (although other
have him arriving earlier in 1611 on the Starr).  He was one of those who, after the Indian
massacre of 1622, assumed a greater importance within the new colony,
being one
of the eleven counsellors for the provisional government.

John Price died in 1638.  His principal
heirs were his sons Mathew and
John.  Their descendants lived in Henrico
county and, from 1750 to the Civil War, in Prince Edward county where
operated the Weaver tobacco plantation.

The Prices at Foxley.  Robert Price from Giler in Denbighshire, like the Prices of
Rhiwlas, had claimed a lineage that went back to the Welsh prince Marchwesthian
in the early 11th century.  He was a
leading judge and lawyer in the court of Charles II and became Baron of
Court of Exchequer in 1702.

had, after his marriage, acquired a partial
interest in the ancient wooded estate of Foxley in Herefordshire.  This became a full interest when he bought
out the other partners in 1714.  He
started work on a new Grand House for the estate in 1719.

Baron Price
died in 1733 and it was the generations that followed that involved
in the beautification of Foxley through landscaping and gardening:

  • Uvedale
    Tompkins Price (1685-1764)
  • Robert
    Price (1717-1761)
  • Sir
    Uvedale Price (1747-1829)
  • and
    Sir Robert Price

were patrons of the arts as well, in particular of the portrait painter

The best known of these
Prices was Uvedale Price, who wrote the Essay on the Picturesque,
Compared with the Sublime and The Beautiful
in 1794.
This treatise, much discussed at the time,
argued that the preferred mode of landscaping should be to retain old
rutted paths and textured slopes, rather than to sweep them all away in
style that had been popularized by Capability Brown.

The Eccentric William Price.  Dr.
William Price, widely labelled during his
lifetime as radical and eccentric, was later remembered
by some as “one of the great Welshman of all time.”
There is a permanent exhibition and statue
dedicated to him in the town of Llantrisant in Glamorgan where he lived
most of his life.

Born in 1800, he was well-known for
his support of Welsh nationalism and Chartism, and for his involvement
in the Neo-Druidic
sect.  At this phase of his life he began
developing an appearance unconventional for his time, wearing a fox fur
hat and
emerald green clothing and growing his beard long and not cutting his
hair.  He also tried holding Druidic
events, but nobody turned up.

a time when burning bodies was considered a
sacrilege, this was the man who cremated his own dead son, whom he had
Jesus Christ Price, on Llantrisant Common in 1884 – even charging
admission to
the public.  Price
was arrested and put on trial by those who believed cremation was
illegal in
Britain.  However, he successfully argued
that there was no legislation that specifically outlawed it.  Upon his own death in 1893, he was cremated
in a ceremony that was watched by 20,000 onlookers. 

William Price to Quebec.  William
Price was born in 1789 into a well off and
well-educated Welsh family originally from Glamorgan. However,
his father died in 1803, leaving
the family with eight children under 21 years of age, a large but old
in the outskirts of London, and a crippling debt.  The
home was turned into a boarding house to
support the family.

oldest son
Richard, hot headed and quick-tempered, soon left the nest.  His shipping business took him various places
but he ended up marrying and staying in Chile.
The next David, also involved in shipping, also travelled widely
returning to England.  Neither of them was
that successful in their business lives, although Richard’s son Sam did
make a
fortune during the California gold rush.

William was the next son, aged fourteen when his
father died.  He too worked for David’s
shipping company
and in 1810, at the age of twenty one, was sent to Quebec as a clerk.  He saw the new opportunities in timber in
Canada and by 1820 had started with three partners his own lumber

of this early material comes from The Story of William
put together
by Alice Sharples Baldwin in 1978 from a box of old letters that was
in the Price family home on the banks of the St Lawrence river in
Quebec City.


Price Names

  • Richard Price was a Welsh moral and political philosopher of the 18th century.
  • Thomas Price, known by his bardic name Carnhuanawc, was a Welsh historian of the
    early 19th century.
  • William Price was a pioneer of the Canadian lumber trade in the early 19th century.
  • William Price was a 19th
    century physician and eccentric, best known today for his promotion of cremation.
  • Vincent Price was an American actor known for his performances in horror movies.
  • Dick Price was co-founder in 1962 of the Esalen Institute in California.
  • Jonathan Pryce is a well-known Welsh stage actor who has made his name in musicals.
  • Nick Price from Zimbabwe is one of the leading golfers of the world.

Select Price Numbers Today

  • 106,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 88,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 42,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Price and Like Surnames  

Hereditary surnames in Wales were a post-16th century development.   Prior to that time the prototype for the Welsh name was the patronymic, such as “Madog ap Jevan ap Jerwerth” (Madoc, son of Evan, son of Yorwerth).  The system worked well in what was still mainly an oral culture.

However, English rule decreed English-style surnames and the English patronymic “-s” for “son of” began first in the English border counties and then in Wales. Welsh “P” surnames came from the “ap” roots, such as Price from “ap Rhys.”

These are some of the present-day Welsh surnames that you can check out.




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