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PRITCHARD Family History
This surname is of Welsh origin, and is a patronymic of the male given name Richard combined with the Welsh prefix 'ap' which means 'son of'. The final, contracted form 'Prichard' and the related name, 'Pritchard', therefore literally mean 'son of Richard'.
Richard had become popular as a personal name in Britain after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and generally increases in popularity in Wales from the 16th century onwards.
Up until the 16th century it was not seen as a fixed, hereditary surname in Wales as patronymics remained the predominant naming system. Up until that time the forms 'ap Richard' and 'ap Risiart' would have been used, and as such they would only have applied to males within a single generation of a family. Females (the daughters of a man named Richard) would have been known, instead, as 'ferch Richard' or 'verch Risiart' (literally 'daughter of Richard').
Settled surnames, such as Prichard/Pritchard, only became evident in Wales between the 16th and 19th centuries. In north west Wales, where the Prichard form was especially popular, hereditary surnames really only came into existence between the late 18th century and the middle of the 19th century, at which point the original ancestor named Richard, who bequeathed the surname to the family, would have lived.
Some families in some parts of Wales would have dropped the 'ap' prefix altogether and would instead have opted for the 'Richard' or 'Richards' form when they fixed their surname.
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Miles Hodges Pritchard
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