Observations on Reversionary Payments: on Schemes for Providing Annuities for Widows, and for Persons in Old Age; on the Method of Calculating the Values of Assurances on Lives; and on the National Debt to Which are Added Four Essays on Different Subjects in the Doctrine of Life-Annuities and Political Arithmetick, also an Appendix

From Wythepedia: The George Wythe Encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

by Richard Price

Observations on Reversionary Payments

Title page from Observations on Reversionary Payments, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Richard Price
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London: T. Cadell and W. Davis
Date 1772
Edition Second
Language English
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages 404
Desc. 8vo (21 cm.)
Location Shelf C-4
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Bookplates, front pastedown.

Richard Price (1723 – 1791) was a well-known Welsh philosopher and preacher. He was also a well-respected writer who was most noted for his influential work in fields such as demography, philosophy, finance, and life insurance.[1] He was also an active participant in liberal causes such as the American and French Revolutions.[2] Price associated with many of America's founding fathers and would often host such noted revolutionaries as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine at his home.[3] Price rose to prominence in early 1776 when he published a pamphlet attacking the British treatment of the colonies.[4] Many experts believe Price’s pamphlet had a role in the American colonies ultimately declaring their independence.[5]

In 1766, or thereabouts, Price began working with the Society for Equitable Assurances, which led to the publication in 1771 of Observations on Reversionary Payments. In May 1770 Price presented to the Royal Society a paper on the proper method of calculating the values of contingent reversions. Observations on Reversionary Payments became a classic. In use for about a century, it provided the basis for financial calculations of insurance and benefit societies, of which many had recently been formed.[6]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Price on annuities. 8vo." and given by Thomas Jefferson to his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph. The precise edition owned by Wythe is unknown. George Wythe's Library[7] on LibraryThing indicates this, adding "One-volume octavo editions were published at London in 1772 and 1773; and Dublin in 1772, 1781, and 1784." The Brown Bibliography[8] lists the 1772 edition published in London based on the copy Jefferson sold to the Library of Congress.[9] The Wolf Law Library followed Brown's suggestion and purchased the 1722 edition published in London.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in original calf with gilt lettered black morocco spine label. The front pastedown includes the bookplate of High Legh Library with the French motto "Pour Dieu et pour Terre" (For God and Earth) pasted partially over an unsigned bookplate with a lion emblem.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

Full text

See also

External Links

Read this book in Google Books.


  1. D. O. Thomas, "Price, Richard (1723–1791)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed September 26, 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Jenny Graham, The Nation, the Law, and the King: Reform Politics in England, 1789-1799 (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2000), 1:131.
  4. Jack P. Greene, A Companion to the American Revolution (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 2000), 251.
  5. Richard Price and Bernard Peach, "Preface," in Richard Price and the Ethical Foundations of the American Revolution: Selections from His Pamphlets, with Appendices (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1979), 9.
  6. J. D. Holland, "An Eighteenth-Century Pioneer Richard Price, D.D., F.R.S. (1723-1791)," Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 23, no. 1 (1968): 47.
  7. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 13, 2013.
  8. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433.
  9. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 4:12 [no.3688].