President of Oswestry & Border History & Archaeology Group – OBHAG
Born and brought up in Oswestry, John Pryce-Jones has always had a keen interest in history, which he traces back to frequent visits to Old Oswestry and to the Castle Bank in his early years, and also to visits to the castles of north Wales, and to places such as Tintagel when on family holidays to Cornwall.
His particular interest in Oswestry’s local history began in the late 1970s, when a short study of the set of street directories in Oswestry library, along with Isaac Watkin’s wonderful study of the town, and material from Bye-Gones, coupled with a lot of practical ‘fieldwork’, led to the preparation of a long article for the Advertizer on Oswestry’s public houses, published in November 1977.
John is the author of Historic Oswestry (1982), Oswestry through the ages (1991), Oswestry parish church – its early history (1992), Oswestry, a local history (1994), The street names of Oswestry (1997), Oswestry – parish, church & people (2005), and An Oswestry miscellany (2007). He has contributed articles to the Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological & Historical Society on John Davies of Middleton, the stewards and bailiffs of Oswestry, and the Oswestry company of shoemakers; to the Salopian Recorder on Oswestry’s field names, trends in naming private houses (focussing on Morda Road and Queen’s Park) and on local government in Tudor times. Since 2003 he has written a monthly historical feature for St Oswald’s parish magazine, clocking up over 150 such articles to date.
His particular interest is Oswestry’s 16th and 17th century history, though his current projects range from the Black Death to Oswestry’s Napoleonic prisoners of war and to the less well known branches of Wilfred Owen’s family tree. He acknowledges that he needs to focus more on the 19th century, a busy time in Oswestry’s history, but he is conscious of the sheer volume of valuable source material that is available and needs to be worked through.
A history graduate, John took part in the archaeological digs at Rhyn Park (1977), which led to the original formation of OBHAG, and on the town wall in Castle Street (1983). Whilst at Exeter University he took part, in 1976, in excavations on the Roman site of Camelon, immediately to the north of the Antonine Wall in central Scotland.
Formerly a librarian, now working in local government, John currently lives in Walsall.