Observations on Reversionary Payments

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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

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)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005, accessed 26 Sept 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), .
  5. J.H. Plumb, England in the Eighteenth Century (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 19901950), .
  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 23:1 (Jun., 1968), 43–64.