Charles Price was born in about 1730 to a Welsh second-hand clothes dealer operating in Monmouth Street, in the St Giles parish of London (it’s at the eastern end of Oxford Street). As a boy, he stole valuable gold lace from a suit his father had bought and sold it to another dealer, who promptly offered it back to the father. His brother got the blame – and a beating – because he had cleverly borrowed his coat for the transaction. A little taste of what was to come…
I have transcribed Price’s story from the Newgate Calendar. It’s actually a précis of the much longer Memoirs of A Social Monster published after his death (not his own memoirs but memoirs of him written by someone else). What a right rollicking read it is. I particularly love the false noses and the fact that he made his own ink. Recommended.
What’s not to love about him?
- Skilled artist and craftsman
- Accomplished actor
- Gifted make-up artist
- Psychologist par excellence
- Supreme strategist
- Verve, style and not a little chutzpah
Also cold-hearted criminal.
Why “social monster”? The monster bit is obvious – he preyed on the gullible. Social describes his milieu. He was out amongst us, in disguise, mingling unrecognised in society. Ready to take his opportunity and lay waste to pride and to pockets.