PRICE, Charles (1748-1818), of Spring Grove, Richmond, Surr.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 25 Jan. 1748, 3rd s. of Rev. Ralph Price of Farnborough, Berks. by Sarah, da. and coh. of Richard Richardson of Smalley, Derbys. m. 16 Dec. 1773, Mary, da. and event. coh. of William Rugge of Hanover Square, Mdx., 5s. 4da. cr. Bt. 2 Feb. 1804.
Alderman, London 1798-d., sheriff 1799-1800, ld. mayor 1802-3.
Master, Ironmongers’ Co. 1798; pres. Commercial Travellers’ Assoc. 1800-d.; dir. Commercial Dock Co. 1810-d.; treasurer 1808-10, vice-pres. Hon. Artillery Co. 1810-d.; founder member, soc. of merchants trading to the Continent 1801-d.; pres. St. Thomas’s hosp. 1810-d.; dir. Hand in Hand Fire Office 1791, Imperial Insurance Co. 1805, Rock Life Assurance Office 1812.
Maj. commdt. 4 Loyal London vols. 1798, lt.-col. 1800, col. 1803.
Price began in business with his uncle William Price in the oil trade at Snow Hill, London. He succeeded his uncle in the 1780s; by 1793 he was an ‘oil, rum and brandy merchant’ and prospered subsequently as a general merchant at William Street, Blackfriars (from 1801). He was by 1810 a partner in the bank of Harrison, Price, Kaye and Chapman, afterwards Sir C. Price, Kaye and Coleman. In Parliament he was a spokesman for the mercantile and particularly for the shipping interest. In December 1797 he defeated the radical Waddington in the aldermanic election for Farringdon Without. Returned in second place in the contest for London in 1802, Price said very little of his principles then, but gave a general support to Addington’s administration. He was lord mayor 1802-3 and subsequently received a baronetcy. Lord Eldon wrote of him to the King, 26 Oct. 1802, ‘This gentleman’s conduct in private life has been marked by industry and integrity; and in the public situations which he has held, he has acted with loyalty and zeal’.1
Price’s first parliamentary duty was to present petitions from his constituents, 10 Dec. 1802. On 10 June 1803 he deprecated commercial jealousy of London among the outports. His next speech, 5 July 1803, was a guarded defence of Addington’s property tax bill, in which he explained that he had been instructed by his constituents in common hall to oppose it, but regarded himself as ‘a representative of the country in general’ and thought it his duty to act ‘from the best of his own judgment and his own conscience’. A week later, on the City defence bill, he rebuked critics of the patriotic spirit of the City, and he spoke in favour of the volunteers in reply to Windham, 14 Dec. 1803. Listed as a friend of Pitt’s second administration in September 1804, Price had become ‘doubtful Sidmouth’ by July 1805, in which month Sidmouth certainly described him as one of his City friends.2 On 15 Mar., instructed by petition, he had opposed the tax on retailers’ imports in the Irish budget proposals; on 8 Apr. voted for the censure and on 12 June for the criminal prosecution of Melville. In the former debate, he alleged that ‘if Lord Melville had been entirely free from any criminality, he would have answered more fully and unequivocally than he had done’. He opposed the corn bill, 10 May 1805. A month later he was in charge of the port of London improvement bill. In July he intervened on the southern whale fishery bill, as spokesman for the Greenland whalers.
Price’s independence was more marked during the Grenville administration, in debate as well as in the division lobby. He opposed the property duty bill, 25 Apr. 1806, regarding it as a blow to metropolitan tradesmen. He voted for the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. (and put in a word for the volunteers, 10 July). On 1 May ‘at the instance of several respectable merchants of the City’, he opposed the bill to regulate slave importation: Lord Holland listed him ‘adverse’ to the abolition of the trade in that year. He was a leading spokesman (and teller) against the American intercourse bill, 22 May, 13 and 17 June, 8 July, insisting that the relaxation of the navigation laws would injure the carrying trade: in this he was regarded as ‘the representative of the shipping interest’. He opposed the Globe Insurance bill, 24 June 1806. On 18 Feb. 1807 he presented a South Sea Company petition against the South Sea Trade bill. He was a defaulter on 2 Mar. and 10 Apr. 1807.
Price supported administration in the Parliament of 1807. He described the Copenhagen expedition as ‘just and necessary ... wisely planned and gloriously executed’, 3 Feb. 1808; on 10 Mar. he was prevented by an informality from presenting a petition of London merchants trading to Europe in favour of the orders in council, to counter the Whig Alderman Combe’s petition against them. He defended the orders in council on 1 Apr. On the question of the Duke of York’s misconduct of army patronage, 20 Mar. 1809, he announced that while he did not believe the duke guilty of corruption, he would vote for censure as a preventive for the future. According to his son, ‘’his private opinion was that after the exposure of the duke’s immoral conduct, it would be most proper that he should retire’.3 With two of his colleagues he was censured by the London livery for not acting on this view, 1 Apr. On 25 Apr. he spoke for Canning’s amendment to the charge of corruption against Castlereagh, but cries for the question stopped him. On such critical divisions as the conduct of the Scheldt expedition, 30 Mar. 1810 and the Regency proposals, 1 Jan. 1811, he continued to vote with government, as predicted by the Whigs. He favoured the complaint against Sir Francis Burdett, 5 Apr. 1810, but voted for his reprimand with the minority. On 7 May, while he thought ministers should have allowed the common hall address against the imprisonment of Burdett to be presented to the King, he defended them against the charges contained in it. Next day he complained that he had failed to get a hearing at the livery meeting, which was the work of a ‘junto’, but had supported the counter-meeting to disavow the pro-Burdett address.4 He voted against parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. On 21 June 1811 (following an allegation by Tierney to the contrary on 15 May) and 3 Mar. 1812, he defended the licence system introduced under the orders in council. He voted against Canning’s motion to consider Catholic relief, 22 June 1812.
Price did not contest the election of 1812, ‘finding the arduous duties of that important station incompatible with his impaired state of health, and with his numerous other public avocations’. He died 19 July 1818, leaving to his family ‘in addition to handsome fortunes, an imperishable good name’. Farington was informed, in 1809, however, that Price was ‘an actor of dignity—had no mind, but had got money’.5
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: Richard Brown / R. G. Thorne
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1818), ii. 84; City Biog. (1800), 56; Hilton Price, London Bankers, 133; Parl. Deb. vii. 712; The Times, 16 July 1802; Geo. III Corresp. iv. 2670.
- 2. The Times, 30 June 1803; Sidmouth mss, Sidmouth to J. H. Addington, 19 July 1805.
- 3. Farington, v. 116.
- 4. Geo. III Corresp. v. 3867, 4126.
- 5. Gent. Mag. (1818), ii. 84; Farington, v. 138.