Thursday, January 21, 2016

Welsh Eccentric: William Price

You probably have no idea who William Price was, but he is someone with whom we should be familiar. Price was a Welsh physician born in 1800 who is known as one of the great eccentrics. The son of a (some say insane) minister, Price went against his father's wishes and became a physician. In the early nineteenth century that would probably be enough to call you eccentric, but Price went above and beyond.

First, after returning from an exile in France (long story), Price started a druid group that attracted a great many followers. He is credited with being one of the catalysts for the neo-pagan movement that exists today. He lived the part, too, wearing green flowing robes and growing his beard and hair long. For the Victorians, this was not normal. Need I mention that Price was also a nudist, vegetarian, and opposed vaccination?

Second, when his son died after living only five months, Price held a funeral on a hilltop and attempted to cremate his son. Cremation was taboo and Price was arrested before the cremation could occur. Price argued that cremation was not illegal and the judge agreed and set him free. The cremation was finally performed several months later. Price set a precedent that led to the formation of the Cremation Society of Great Britain. 

William Price's last words before his death on January 23, 1893 were "Bring me a glass of champagne." It really couldn't be more perfect. This Saturday, let's all raise a glass of champagne to William Price, neo-paganism, and cremation.

If you'd like to learn more about Price, there is a biography! Eccentric: The Life of Dr. William Price by Dean Powell was published in 2005. Powell even has a Facebook page on Price if you're really hooked. I think Price is someone you could get hooked on.

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