Observations on Reversionary Payments

From Wythepedia: The George Wythe Encyclopedia
Revision as of 16:07, 13 November 2013 by Lktesar (talk | contribs) (Evidence)

Jump to: navigation, search

by Richard Price

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 a variety of 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, he began his influential work 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, and providing the basis for financial calculations of insurance and benefit societies, of which many had recently been formed.[6]

Bibliographic Information

Author: Richard Price.

Title: 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.

Publication Info: London: T. Cadell and W. Davis, 1772.

Edition: Second edition;

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. Contains bookplate on front pastedown.

View this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

External Links

Google Books


  1. D. O. Thomas, “Price, Richard (1723–1791)”, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004-), accessed Sept. 26, 2013. (Subscription required for access.)
  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, http://www.librarything.com/profile/GeorgeWythe
  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, 2nd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983), 4:12 [no.3688].