PRICE, Ellis (c.1512-94), of Plas Iolyn and Ysbyty Ifan, Denb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1512, 2nd s. of Robert ap Rhys of Plas Iolyn by Margaret, da. of Rhys Lloyd of Gydros, Merion. educ. St. Nicholas Hostel, Camb., BCL 1533, DCL 1534. m. (1) Catherine, da. of Thomas Conway of Bodrhyddan, Flints., 1s.; (2) Ellyw, da. of Owen Poole, rector of Llanderwyn, Merion., 2s. 4da. At least 2s. illegit.

Offices Held

Visitor of rel. houses in Wales 1535; chancellor of St. Asaph diocese c.1537-8, of Bangor diocese 1560; commissary gen. St. Asaph 1538; member, council in the marches of Wales from 1560; Earl of Leicester’s steward of lordship of Denbigh from c.1564; master in Chancery extraordinary.

J.p.q. Merion. from 1543, Denb. from 1555, Caern. from 1561, Anglesey, Mont. 1564, most Welsh counties by 1575, all and Mon. by 1579; sheriff, Denb. 1548-9, 1556-7, 1568-9, 1572-3, Merion. 1551-2, 1555-6, 1563-4, 1567-8, 1573-4, 1578-9, 1583-4, Caern. 1558-9, Anglesey 1577-8, 1585-6; custos rot. Merion. from 1559.1


By the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign Price, the ‘Red Doctor’ as he was sometimes called, had secured the patronage of Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He was one of the four chief tenants who acted for the rest in negotiations with Leicester on his acquisition of the barony of Denbigh in 1564, and he was appointed steward of the lordship. As agent to Leicester he was the most powerful, and, by his fellow gentry, the best hated man in North Wales. Though his private life had long been the subject of comment it was all that Archbishop Parker could do to resist pressure from both Leicester and the 1st Earl of Pembroke to have Price appointed to the see of Bangor in 1566. In a neat piece of understatement Parker described him as neither a priest nor possessing any ‘priestly disposition’. Price later joined his successful rival, Nicholas Robinson, on a commission against the recusant gentry of Lleyn. In common with many turbulent characters of the period Price was, however, popular with the bards of Gwynedd, the most skilled of whom sang his praises, and his name stands first in the list of gentry to whom Elizabeth addressed her proclamation for the Caerwys eisteddfod of 1567.

Price intervened frequently in Merioneth elections, but he sat in only one Elizabethan Parliament, and the only reference found to him in the proceedings is to his being granted leave of absence on 15 Mar. 1563. With the emergence of Robert Salesbury of Rûg, whose father was Price’s old enemy, and with the death of the Earl of Leicester that same year, Price’s influence began to wane. In 1590 he had to defend an Exchequer suit brought against him for unlawful intrusion into Merioneth lands. He died in his eighties 8 Oct. 1594. In his will, proved 24 May 1596, his heir and executor Thomas, himself a bard of repute, is charged to have regard for another son, Edward, ‘if he recover his health’, and to ‘place my base sons in some service, and not to suffer them to go a begging’. He was also to see to the marriage of a daughter, Gaynor, and to pay the marriage portion of her sister Kathleen. No mention was made of two other daughters and a son who were living at the time of Lewis Dwnn’s visitation.2

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A.H.D.


  • 1. DWB; Griffith, Peds. 204; LP Hen. VIII, ix. pp. 205, 283, 291; D. R. Thomas, St. Asaph, i. 253; Cal. Wynn Pprs. p. 339; A. I. Pryce, Diocese of Bangor in 16th Cent. 20; Strype, Cranmer (1853), p. 274; CPR, 1560-3, pp. 446-7; Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales , 132; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, i. 323; SP12/231/57; HMC Welsh, i. 291-2.
  • 2. Denbigh Recs. 109-13; SP12/123/11, 231/57; Collins, Sidney Pprs. i. 276-9; Cal. Wynn Pprs. pp. 11, 12; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 187-206; Lansd. 8, f. 195; APC, x. 203-4; CJ, i. 69; HMC Welsh, i. 3; ii. 44, 129-30, 166, 315; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones (Univ. Wales, Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. iv), 228-9; PCC 37 Drake; Arch. Camb. (ser. 6), xv. 120; Dwnn, Vis. Wales, ii. 344.