PRISE, John (c.1603-1669), of The Priory, Brec. and Wistaston Court, Marden, Herefs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1603,1 1st s. of Thomas Prise of The Priory, and Anne, da. of William Rudhall (Rudhale) of Rudhall, Upton Bishop, Herefs.; bro. of Herbert†. m. (1) by 1617 Mary, da. and h. of Gregory Prise† of Hereford, Herefs. and The Priory, 2da.; (2) 1631, Anne (d. aft. 1673), da. and h. of Sir George Chute of Stockwell, Surr. and Wistaston, 1s. 2da. and 1 other ch.2 suc. fa. 1654.3 d. Oct. 1669.4 sig. John Prise.
Col. (roy.) Herefs. c.1642-6.8
This Member’s family traced their pedigree back to Bleddyn ap Maenyrch, king of Brycheiniog (Breconshire) at the time of the Norman invasion, and to Dafydd Gam, a hero at Agincourt.9 Sir John Price†, the Member’s great-grandfather, a monastic visitor, Welsh antiquarian and associate of Thomas Cromwell†, established the family’s fortunes by purchasing the sites of Brecon and Hereford priories, which gave the family a political presence in the Marches. The Member himself has sometimes been confused with his grandfather, the third son of Sir John Price. He was in fact the son of Thomas Prise, who probably inherited his patrimony in the 1610s.10 He cannot have been the Breconshire man of this name who matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1602 at the age of 18.
In around 1617 Prise married Mary, daughter of Gregory Prise†, his great-uncle. Through Gregory, Prise’s father had already acquired over 3,000 acres in Herefordshire.11 In the 1620s, however, Prise seems to have lived principally at The Priory in Brecon. His father signed the election indentures for Brecon Boroughs as an alderman in 1620 and 1624, and Prise himself witnessed the indenture of 1625, probably shortly after coming of age,12 as he first made his appearance on the county bench in May 1624.
Prise was returned for the county in 1626. Normally the knighthood of the shire was bestowed on a Member of the Williams family of Gwernyfed, but during the mid-1620s there was a hiatus in their representation, creating a temporary vacuum into which Prise either jumped or was pushed. The Williamses presumably gave Prise their blessing: Prise’s father, after all, was an ally of the Gwernyfed family, and in 1631 would help witness the key marriage contract of Henry Williams*.13 Also important, though, was the Member’s connection with Sir Walter Pye I* through his grandfather, William Rudhall, Pye’s father-in-law.14 Once at Westminster, however, Prise apparently made no contribution of any kind to the assembly - all mentions of ‘Mr. Price’ in the parliamentary records for 1626 can safely be attributed either to Charles Price, Member for New Radnor, or the Cardiff MP William Price.
Following the death of his first wife, Prise married again. In 1631 he took as his new wife Anne, daughter of Sir George Chute and heiress to Wistaston, Herefordshire. He and his father subsequently moved to Wistaston and settled most of the family’s Breconshire lands, worth some £300 p.a. and including The Priory in Brecon, on the Member’s younger brother, Herbert.15 During the Civil War the Prises were passionate royalists. Thomas Prise, though, was more prominent than his son in the war’s early stages, being dubbed locally as one of the ‘nine worthies’ - those local justices who promulgated the case for Herefordshire royalism against Parliament between March and April 1642.16 Prise himself was in arms against Parliament by July 1642, and sent horses and weaponry to Edgehill.17 He was not the man who died in the slaughter of royalists at Prior’s Fort in Bristol in 1645, although some contemporaries certainly made this claim.18 On the contrary, Prise, who achieved the rank of colonel, survived the war, although his son later claimed that he had lost £11,000 during the siege of Hereford, and that he was exiled for 16 years. It is difficult to reconcile this claim with the active role that Prise is known to have played in negotiating his sequestration, but he later admitted that the attentions of the sequestrators forced him to ‘obscure himself’, and his brother certainly spent the Interregnum on the Continent.19 Prise certainly had contact with the exiled Court, for in July 1659 he sent a letter concerning the reliability of a royalist agent to Gervase Holles† at Rotterdam. In this, Price declared his willingness to serve Charles II ‘in anything ... that is beseeming a dutiful and loyal subject’.20
Prise’s estate was sequestered in 1649, although his wife claimed a fifth share as the Wistaston properties were held by her. A fine was set at £431 11s. 8d., half of which was paid by Prise’s father. The latter died in 1654 after settling the estates on Prise’s son, also named Thomas†, whereupon Prise’s wife, Anne, informed Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell* that her son was a minor and that his trustees had declared they were powerless to raise the outstanding half of the fine; it is unclear whether this sum was ever paid. The composition proceedings revealed that Prise was indebted to his father-in-law to the tune of £1,200 for rent arrears due before 1640, while the administrators of the Exchequer Baron Thomas Gates clamoured for repayment of a debt of £500.21 Prise’s son later estimated that loyalty to the Stuart cause had cost the family £20,000.22
Prise seems to have held little or no land in his own right at the Restoration, possibly because he was then attempting to evade payment of a longstanding debt of £700, incurred after borrowing £350 in 1648 from William Bold.23 Consequently, leadership of the family transferred to his son Thomas after the Restoration, who sat for Herefordshire in the Cavalier Parliament. Prise himself died intestate in October 1669.24
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Lloyd Bowen
- 1. Assuming that he was aged 21 on becoming a j.p.
- 2. Vis. Herefs. (Harl. Soc. ns xv), 102; Herefs. RO, C99/AW28/27/2; C6/204/11; T. Coningsby, Marden (1722-7), pp. 338-9; CCC, 2490.
- 3. PROB 11/233, ff. 377-9.
- 4. C6/204/11.
- 5. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 266-71; Trans. Woolhope Field Club, xxxiv. 293.
- 6. NLW, Tredegar Park 120/61; C219/40/7.
- 7. C193/12/2, f. 66.
- 8. CSP Dom. 1677-8, p. 545.
- 9. Harl. 1301, p. 24; Jones, Hist. Brec. ii. 139.
- 10. No will has been traced for John Prise the elder, who was born in 1547 and was still alive in 1607: NLW, ms 14699B.
- 11. Herefs. RO, C99/AW28/27/1-2.
- 12. C219/37/337; 219/38/313; 219/39/256; JPs in Wales and Monm. 266.
- 13. NLW, Gwernyfed 31.
- 14. Coningsby, 338-9.
- 15. Ibid. 76, 87; Eg. 1048, f. 75.
- 16. I. Atherton Ambition and Failure in Stuart Eng. 223-5.
- 17. C6/21/182.
- 18. HMC Portland, iii. 269.
- 19. CSP Dom. 1677-8, pp. 544-5; C6/21/182. A John Price was listed as a capt. of horse in Col. Herbert Prise’s† regt. in the register of officers claiming money in 1663: List of Officers Claiming (1663), p. 108.
- 20. SP77/32, f. 271; CSP Dom. 1659-60, pp. 22-3.
- 21. SP23/109/600-27, 641, 647; CCC, 2489-92; CCAM, 990. This debt to Gates was still the subject of litigation in 1662, when Prise claimed it was the liability of his brother, Herbert, for whom he had acted as surety: C6/21/182.
- 22. CSP Dom. 1677-8, p. 544.
- 23. C6/204/11; C6/19/21.
- 24. C6/204/11; Herefs. RO, C99/AW28/27/3.