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PRICE Family History
Price is one of the most popular surnames in Wales, and its main origin lies in the Welsh patronymic name, 'ap Rhys', meaning 'the son of Rhys'.
Hereditary surnames did not become fixed and settled in Wales until between the 16th and 19th centuries, as the second name (Rhys in this case) traditionally always referred back to an individual's father or, sometimes, grandfather. Over time, the phrase 'ap Rhys' was amalgamated and shortened to form the name 'Price' along with the variations Prys, Pryce, Pryse, Preece, Preese and sometimes Brees and Breese.
In Old Welsh the word 'rhys' meant 'ardour'. Several famous figures in Welsh history were named Rhys, including Rhys ap Tewdwr (c.1040–1093) who was king of Deheubarth (south west Wales), and his grandson, Rhys ap Gruffudd (c.1132–1197), who became Prince of Deheubarth in 1155.
A variant of this surname, Bryson (literally 'son of Bryse or Pryse'), has also been established in Ireland since the 14th century.
In other parts of the UK, it has different origins, and probably derives from a Middle English nickname, and Old French 'pris' meaning ‘excellent, noble, highly valued (person)' or from 'price' or 'prize', an occupational name for a fixer of prices.
It is also an Americanised spelling of the German/Jewish surname 'Preuss' or 'Preis'.
In 1881, in England the highest number of entries was recorded in Worcestershire and the West Midlands where 2,326 occurrences were recorded. The most common occupations for Price family members that year was farming and coal mining.
In 1891, the surname was widespread throughout Wales and England with 54,107 occurrences, and when there were a further 466 entries on the 1891 Scottish census.
1881, 1891 Census
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
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