Select Pritchard Surname Genealogy

The Welsh patronymic ap Rhisiart or ap Richard (meaning “son of Richard”) translated into the English surnames Prichard and Pritchard when they began to displace Welsh-style appellations in the 16th century.  These English names appeared not just in Wales but in the English counties bordering or in close proximity to Wales. 

The Pritchard spelling began to replace Prichard in Wales as the 19th century proceededPritchard is now the dominant spelling.

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Select Pritchard Ancestry

Wales.  Prichard only emerged as a surname in Wales when English-style surnames developed in the 16th century.  There seems to have been no regional bias to the name as it was found in both south and north Wales.

South Wales
.  The English nomenclature may mask the Welsh ancestry.  William ap Richard of Llanover Court in Monmouthshire, the first to adopt the name of Richard, later took the surname of Prichard.  He died in the late 1500’s and his tombstone read as follows:

“Here lieth the bodies of William Prichard esq. of Llanover and Matthew Prichard esq. of Llanover, his son and heir, lineally descended from the body of Cradock Vraiche Vras, Earl of Hereford and prince between the Wye and Severn.”

The family fortunes fluctuated during the 17th century.  Llanover manor was lost during the Civil War, the Goytre manor within the Llanover estate reclaimed after the Restoration.  But this had to be sold in 1730, although Prichards did remain in the area.

Another old lineage, said to have been descended from Ifor Bach, characterized the Prichards of Llancaiach Fawr in Glamorgan.  It was Dafydd ap Richard who built the manor house around 1550.  His best-known descendant was Colonel Edward Prichard, the man who successfully changed sides during the Civil War.

North Wales
.  Some early Prichards were churchmen.  Edward Prichard was vicar of Llansannan in Conwy in 1660. William Prichard grew up in Caernarvonshire in the early 1700’s but made his mark in Anglesey as a Dissenting minister.  Meanwhile Richard Pritchard, who died in 1722, was the first to be described as of Trescawen in Anglesey. The family were local gentry.  His son William Pritchard was Sheriff of Anglesey in 1786 and George Pritchard held the same title in 1879.

.  A few Welsh Prichards made it to London.  Francis Prichard came in the early 1600’s and was a ropemaker in Southwark.  His son William, who initially took up his father’s trade, later prospered as a merchant, was Lord Mayor of London in 1682 and then MP for the City of London.  He died in 1705 with an estate in Buckinghamshire but left no male heirs.

Another Pritchard in London at this time was said to have been Stephen Pritchard, a man who may have emigrated to the island of St. Helena after the Great Fire of 1666.  A descendant Henry Pritchard was responsible for monitoring Napoleon when he was exiled there in 1815.

Most Pritchards in England, however, were to be found in the border counties.  Two notable Pritchards from Shropshire were:
  • Thomas Farnolls Pritchard, born in Shrewsbury in 1723, who was the man who designed the first Ironbridge. Pritchard Way in Shrewsbury commemorates him. 
  • and the Pritchard family from Broseley near Bridgenorth.  John Pritchard, a victualler by trade who died in 1799, was the forebear of a successful Pritchard legal and banking family that continued until 1891 (when Lloyds acquired the bank).
The Pritchard name later extended into Staffordshire and Lancashire. 

  The Pritchard name does occur in Ireland, presumably from either Welsh or English origins.  Two Pritchards who subsequently crossed the Atlantic to America were:
  • the Pritchards of Coppingerstown in county Cork who may have been there since the 17th century.  Paul Pritchard departed from there for South Carolina in the 1760’s and acquired the Charleston naval shipyard in 1788.  He and his son William operated the yard building ships until 1831.
  • and the Pritchards of Currin parish in county Monaghan who were probably 18th century Irish arrivals.  James and Judith Pritchard emigrated from there to Alcove in Quebec in the 1830's.
America.  There were two early Pritchard arrivals in America, but from England not Wales:
  • Thomas Pritchard to Virginia in 1610  
  • and William Prichard to New England in the 1630’s.
Virginia.  Thomas Pritchard arrived in Jamestown, probably with two brothers, on the Starr in 1610.   He came from Kent, does not appear to have been Welsh, and his surname sometimes was Prickett or Pritchett.  His line extended through his son Thomas in Westmoreland county, Virginia and then onto Loudoun county.  John Pritchard fought in the Revolutionary War and belatedly received his pension in 1834, by which time he had moved to Indiana.  Emily Cary’s 2006 book The Pritchard Family History covered the line.

New England
.  William Prichard from Suffolk was probably originally a Pritchett as well.  He came to New England in the 1630’s and later was one of the original settlers of Brookfield, Massachusetts.  William and his son Samuel were both slain during an Indian attack on the village in 1675.

Samuel was outside the garrison at Brookfield when the attack began. They cut off his head, tossed it about like a ball in sight of the settlers, and then set on a pole against his dead father’s house.” 

Probably related to these Prichards was Roger Pritchard who had come to Boston in 1636 and later settled in the New Haven colony.  His son Joseph was also killed in this Brookfield massacre. 

Welsh Prichards
.  The Prichards who began to appear in Pennsylvania and Maryland in the late 1600’s may have been the first Welsh Prichards in America.  Henry Pritchard was a Quaker who came to Philadelphia around the year 1682.  Obadiah and Margaret Prichard, married in 1699, were the forebears of a line in Baltimore county, Maryland. James Prichard fought in the Revolutionary War and subsequently headed west to Kentucky to farm.  His descendants formed a Prichard Association in Indiana in 1912 and Martha Johnson’s 1915 book The Prichard Family covered their family line.

Another arrival in Kentucky, in 1811, was William Prichard.  Tradition has it that William was born in Wales and kidnapped and brought to Virginia with his brother John where they were apprenticed to Virginia planters.

William Pritchard was born probably in Tennessee in 1812.  He died in 1864 of disease contracted during the Civil War, leaving a son Jeter aged just seven.  Jeter, apprenticed out, later embarked on a political career which culminated in him becoming the US Senator for North Carolina from 1895 to 1903.  His son George ran twice as Governor for North Carolina, but in each case was unsuccessful.

South Wales in the 19th century offered farming and coal mining as occupations, but at low wages.  America beckoned for some: 
  • John Pritchard from Treflys in Breconshire departed for Ohio in 1860 and later homesteaded in Illinois.  His son Will farmed in Chelsea, Michigan.  They felt fortunate to have escaped the grinding poverty back in Wales.
  • while William Pritchard from Carmarthenshire came out as a young man to Pennsylvania in 1881 and worked in the coal mines before migrating to West Virginia where he became general manager of a number of coal companies.
South Africa.  Charles Pritchard, a descendant of the St. Helena Pritchards, migrated to the Cape Colony in 1838. He farmed in Langeberg and was one of the pioneers at Beaufort West.  Kenneth Pritchard’s 1989 book The Pritchard Family in South Africa covered this history plus the earlier family history in St. Helena.

Select Pritchard Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Pritchard Names

William Prichard was an early Welsh nonconformist, a pioneer of dissent in the Anglesey area in the mid-18th century.
Thomas Farnolls Pritchard
from Shropshire is best remembered for his design of the first cast iron bridge in the world.  This bridge spanned the Severn river in Shropshire and was completed in 1780.
Jack Pritchard
was a London-based furniture designer who was influential in England during the inter-war period of the 20th century.

Select Pritchards Today
  • 32,000 in the UK (most numerous in Glamorgan)
  • 10,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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