Home village hopes ‘greatest Welsh thinker’ finally receives his dues

Events to mark 300 years since birth of Richard Price, a radical who ‘helped build the modern world’

His achievements include helping shape the US constitution, championing women’s rights, furthering the cause of the anti-slavery movement – and he also found time to hone the maths used by the insurance industry. In short Richard Price, an 18th-century moral philosopher, nonconformist preacher and scientist, was – those in the know agree – Wales’s greatest thinker.

The problem is that not so many people in the UK, Wales or even his home county of Bridgend, know much about him, and lots have never heard of him.

In an attempt to put this right, events have been organised in his home village, Llangeinor, across Wales and in London where he spent most of his adult life, to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth, on 23 February.

The writer and Price enthusiast Vic Mills, who has created a play about him, said it was sad he had been largely forgotten. “He was an incredible individual, a hero. But he was a huge threat to the establishment, almost an enemy of the state to many. He was a radical – and he was Welsh. The English establishment made sure he was forgotten.”

Mills argued that the time was right to celebrate Price. “In an age where we are reassessing our histories and pulling statues down, Price is a figure that we can legitimately place on a pedestal.”

The Richard Price memorial in Llangeinor.
The Richard Price memorial in Llangeinor. Photograph: Dimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures

The only permanent memorial to Price in Llangeinor is on railings near the bus stop, with phrases associated with the thinker etched into the metalwork, and the community centre bears his name.

An exhibition was opened at the centre on Thursday detailing his life in Llangeinor, with the centrepiece being a large painting by a local artist, Kevin Sinnott, featuring Price sitting at his desk as scenes from the American and French revolutions swirl around him. The exhibition was accompanied by talks, extracts from Mills’s play, and poetry readings.

One of the displays at the Richard Price exhibition in Llangeinor community centre.
One of the displays at the Richard Price exhibition in Llangeinor community centre. Photograph: Dimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures

Colin Simper, a member of the Garw Valley Heritage Society, said: “Even here, not everyone knows who he was. Some people think the centre is named after a local building merchant down the road. America knows him better than we do.”

Deb Davies, one of the centre’s directors, said: “He stepped on too many toes and they wrote him out of history.”

As part of Price 300, Mills’s play – Price Of Change – will be performed later this year in Llangeinor, Cardiff, Aberystwyth and London. There will also be an academic conference hosted by Cardiff University in the summer.

A blue plaque honouring Price at his former home in north London.
A blue plaque honouring Price at his former home in north London. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

English Heritage also marked Price’s birthday by placing a plaque on his former home in Newington Green, north London.

Huw Edwards, the journalist, presenter and newsreader, who unveiled the plaque, said Price deserved to be a household name. “He was a mathematical genius and forward-thinking philosopher and theologian whose influence is still felt today.”

The newsreader Huw Edwards unveiling the blue plaque honouring Richard Price.
Huw Edwards unveiling the plaque. Photograph: Alex Upton/English Heritage

Huw Williams, of Cardiff University’s school of English, communication and philosophy, said Price helped “forge” the modern world, “but he has been lost from our popular memory. His contributions in the fields of politics, philosophy and science have long been underappreciated.

“There is something crucial here for us in Wales to ponder, because he is ultimately our guy – a hero of global status embodying our progressive and internationalist traditions, who helped to build the modern world.”

He continued: “It tells us a lot about our own psychology, our struggles with our own history, and how we regard ourselves as a people that he is so little celebrated. This may be partly about who we are conditioned as Welsh people to lionise, whether that’s poets, singers or sports stars, and partly perhaps our lack of understanding with regards to our contributions in the world of mathematics, science and statecraft.

“It’s heartening to see a number of events being held to celebrate his life. More than ever, it seems, his values and his life’s work speaks to us across the centuries.”


Steven Morris

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Guardian view on the god of science: a divine but rational disagreement | Editorial
Editorial: A key maths tool during the pandemic came about because of an 18th-century debate about Christianity. The lesson we can draw today is that moral philosophy matters


06, Jun, 2021 @5:25 PM

Article image
Map may prove ‘Welsh Atlantis’ rooted in fact, say academics
Professors say two islands in Cardigan Bay are clearly marked on the Gough map held at Bodleian library

Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill

21, Aug, 2022 @4:46 PM

Article image
Welsh village turns off lights to stargaze with Tim Peake
Astronaut visits aptly named Star in Pembrokeshire to remind locals to embrace wonders of night sky

Steven Morris

24, Oct, 2019 @7:16 AM

Article image
Newport statue to commemorate Welsh suffragette Lady Rhondda
Sculpture of campaigner to be unveiled next year as one of five in Monumental Welsh Women project

Steven Morris

04, Dec, 2022 @5:00 PM

Article image
Home of one of first Bibles printed in Welsh saved from flood risk
Hydropower scheme at William Morgan’s 16th-century house to keep humidity levels in check

Steven Morris

22, Nov, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
Welsh government to press ahead with visitor levy plan
Proposal for charge to stay overnight in commercially let accommodation will be put to Senedd

Steven Morris

29, Mar, 2023 @11:01 PM

Article image
Welsh education minister hits out at ‘misinformation’ over LGBTQ+ curriculum
Campaigners are putting teachers under pressure, says Jeremy Miles after verdict in high court challenge

Steven Morris

23, Dec, 2022 @1:19 PM

Article image
Second homes and Brexit pushing Welsh language to ‘tipping point’
Chair of commission looking at future of Welsh language fears anglicisation could put it out of community use

Steven Morris

08, Nov, 2022 @11:00 PM

Article image
Welsh first minister defends trip to World Cup in Qatar
Mark Drakeford insists people of Wales would want nation’s leader to attend despite controversies

Steven Morris and agencies

20, Nov, 2022 @12:50 PM

Article image
‘My respect would be increased’: Prince William urged to learn Welsh
Calls grow as first minister suggests Prince of Wales will want to ‘recognise the importance’ of language

Steven Morris

16, Sep, 2022 @1:43 PM