Pritchard Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Pritchard Meaning
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
Pritchard spelling began to replace Prichard in Wales as the 19th
. Pritchard
is now the dominant

Pritchard Resources on

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

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
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
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.

Wales. Some early Prichards were
churchmen. Edward Prichard was vicar of
Llansannan in Conwy in 1660. William
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

England. 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.

Pritchard in London at this time was said to have been Stephen
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
    the first Ironbridge. Pritchard Way in
    Shrewsbury commemorates him.
  • and
    Pritchard family from Broseley near Bridgenorth. John
    Pritchard, a victualler by trade who
    died in 1799, was the forebear of a successful
    legal and
    banking family that continued until 1891 (when Lloyds acquired 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

    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

  • Thomas
    Pritchard to Virginia in 1610
  • and
    William Prichard to New England in the 1630’s.

Virginia. Thomas Pritchard arrived in Jamestown,
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

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.

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

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

Welsh Prichards. The Prichards who began to appear in
and Maryland in the late 1600’s may have been the first Welsh Prichards
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
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
    of coal companies.

Africa. Charles
, a descendant of the St. Helena Pritchards,
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
family history in St. Helena


Pritchard Miscellany

The Prichards of Llancaiach Fawr.  Edward
Prichard, born around 1610, was born into the
feuding families of the Prichards of Llancaiach
Fawr and the Lewises of the Van in
Glamorgan, both apparently related to a common ancestor.
There was much recording of brawling between
the two families which even found its way into
Gelligaer church.  No fewer than eleven incidents of this
brawling ended up in court.

At the start of the Civil War, Edward Pritchard
was a supporter of Charles I.  The King
appointed him Commissioner of Array and made him responsible for
recruiting men
and money for the Royalists.  But by the
half of 1645 Colonel Pritchard, like many in the Welsh gentry, changed
and become a strong supporter of Parliament.
This was after Charles I had actually visited Llancaiach Fawr in an effort to persuade not to change sides.

Prichard was then appointed by the Parliamentarians Governor of Cardiff castle.  In 1646 he successfully defended the castle against an attack by the Cavaliers and two years later he fought with some distinction in the Battle of St. Fagans.

At the end of the war Edward was one of the county
commissioners for administering the Propagation Act and was a member of
a group
of Baptists based at Graig-yr-Allt.   He
died in 1655.

He had two surviving daughters who both married and moved away.  The Llancaiach Fawr manor was subsequently rented out to tenant farmers.

The manor house has recently been restored as a museum to how it might have looked under the Prichards in 1645. It is said to be haunted.  Some say that Edward Prichard can sometimes be seen dressed in his Civil War regalia contemplating the turmoil and his support of the King.

William Prichard’s Life as a Dissenter.  Although
he had had a good education and was a cultured
man, William Prichard became a farmer
in the parish of Llangybi
in Caernarvonshire.

Sunday afternoon after church was over, he went to the village inn as
usual and got so drunk that instead of returning straight home he
stupidly round the neighboring cottages. On reaching the last window of
heard Francis
the Bible and praying for prodigals like himself. That was sufficient
to sober
him and send him home a reformed character.

he continued for some time
to go to the established church, he began to associate more and more
with the Dissenters
Pwllheli.  In
1742 William
his family were exiled from Glasfryn
Fawr.  They went
to Plas
Penmynydd in Anglesey.  But the
people there persecuted
their new tenant inhumanly. When the landlord was induced to drive him
out of
the neighborhood he went to Bodlew
in Llanddaniel
where again he suffered persecution because of his religious views.

when William Bulkeley of Brynddu
came to realize that he was being ejected from his farms merely because
he was
a Nonconformist,
offered him the tenancy at Clwchdernog.
There in 1749 he found his space to preach
lived there until his death in 1773.

The Pritchards in Treflys.  David Pritchard, born around 1790 in Treflys in Breconshire, was a poor farmer who at times would take work at the iron
quarries to put food on the table.  His
children received little schooling.  They
all began servant-hood at an early age in order to support the family.  David himself was still farming in the 1861
census, even though he was over seventy years old.
In the 1871 census he had finally retired and
was listed as an ex-quarryman.

His son John Pritchard was listed as an
18-year-old farm servant in the 1851 Wales census.
Nine years later he set off by ship for
America, never to return.  He would never
see his parents David and Gwen again nor maybe even ever hear from them.

John Pritchard, Revolutionary War Soldier.  John
Pritchard was born in Loudoun county, Virginia in 1760 and enlisted in
the Continental army at the age of eighteen.
was wounded in the leg in the Battle of Guilford Court House and was
later at
the siege of Yorktown. After Yorktown he was transferred to Captain
Beam’s company
under Colonel Alexander and was discharged in September 1782.

the service he
was belatedly granted a pension in 1834.
His pension application read as follows:

have the record of my
age in the family Bible now in the possession of my brother in
Virginia.  I was
residing at the Gum Springs in Loudoun county, Virginia when I was
called into
service and continued to reside there until the war was over. Since the
Revolution, I resided in Maryland. From there I removed to near
Virginia; from there to Kentucky and there I resided until about six
since when I removed to Decatur county in Indiana where I now reside.”

began spelling his surname without a ‘t’ after the war.
He died in Decatur county in 1841.  His
tombstone bore the following epitaph:

friends as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now so you must
Prepare for death and follow me.”

The Paul Pritchard Shipyard in Charleston, South Carolina.  The yard had been in operation since 1702 but became known as the Paul Pritchard shipyard when he acquired the yard in 1778.  He promptly sold it to the commissioners of
the South Carolina Navy during the duration of the Revolutionary War
but got
the yard back when the war was over.

died in 1791 and
bequeathed the yard to his son William along with “all the materials at
shipyard at Hobcaw for carrying on the shipwright’s business and also
all the
timber and plank in the said shipyard and vessels on the stocks.”

the next
40 years, William Pritchard built and maintained many naval and
vessels, including the revenue cutter Unanimity
launched in 1794.  In 1831 Hobcaw Bill
finally closed his Hobcaw shipyard and sold the property.
Today most of the original 340 tract has been
subdivided into residential areas. 

Charles Pritchard at Beaufort West.  Charles Pritchard
was the youngest son of Henry Huff Pritchard who had chaperoned
Napoleon during
his exile on St. Helena in 1815.  He was
commissioned as an ensign in the English East India Company at the age
of 18 in
1833. Three years later on the
dissolution of the company he was pensioned off.  He
migrated to the Cape Colony, settling in
Beaufort West.

1840 he set off to Cape Town on horseback in order to try to
adjust his company pension.  On the way
he fell ill and stopped at David de Villiers’s farm near Durbanville.  It proved a fortuitous stop.
He married one of his daughters, Johanna
Hermina, later that year.

and Johanna raised thirteen children in Beaufort
West.  The youngest William, born in
1861, lived until 1947.  He was an
evangelist and Rand pioneer.


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 Pritchard Numbers 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)


Select Pritchard and Like Surnames  

Hereditary surnames in Wales were a post-16th century development.   Prior to that time the prototype for the Welsh name was the patronymic, such as “Madog ap Jevan ap Jerwerth” (Madoc, son of Evan, son of Yorwerth).  The system worked well in what was still mainly an oral culture.

However, English rule decreed English-style surnames and the English patronymic “-s” for “son of” began first in the English border counties and then in Wales. Welsh “P” surnames came from the “ap” roots, such as Price from “ap Rhys.”

These are some of the present-day Welsh surnames that you can check out.




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