An Assessment of the Political and Legal Career of Robert Price

Evans, Evan David (1998). An Assessment of the Political and Legal Career of Robert Price. MPhil thesis The Open University.



After qualifying as a barrister, Robert Price entered the service of the Council in the Marches at Ludlow where he came to the notice of the Duke of Beaufort. The Duke placed him as his agent in extending royal control in several borderland municipalities and gained admission for him into Court circles under James II. His career was blighted by the Revolution and, expecting few favours from William III, Price concentrated on his parliamentary activities. Reared in the Tory tradition of loyalism, he now had to adjust with the party to a role in opposition in becoming the 'Country party'. He was active in support of 'Country' men and measures under Robert Harley’s leadership whom he supported both in his own locality and in Parliament. He was gratified by Harley’s overtures to the Tories which he promoted and which emanated in the 'New Country Party'. Though always a diligent parliamentarian. Price only came into prominence when he led a campaign against the grant by William III of two Denbighshire lordships to the Earl of Portland which culminated in a memorable speech in the House of Commons. Price skilfully elevated a local grievance into an issue of national significance which enabled him to launch an attack on King William’s policies on all fronts and was effective in stopping the grant. Price emerged as the foremost spokesman for Wales in Parliament at a crucial time in its history following the abolition of the Council in the Marches which had governed it for a century and half. To make the necessary adjustments, William III's parliaments had to undertake an unprecedented amount of legislation relating to Wales not seen since Henry VIII’s time and Robert Price’s legal knowledge and expertise was drawn upon for the purpose. He subscribed to the 'old constitutional school' of Toryism which he helped to shape and which was to characterise Welsh Toryism for a century in its vigilance against the growth of executive power.

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