Capt Richard Prichard

Bryncethin Fawr and his pocket watch

In March 2009 I was forwarded an e mail by Gwenllian Jones who runs the excellent website The e mail was from Rich Hughes who is the Dive Officer with the Red Dragons Divers Club based in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire. In April 2000 whilst diving on an un-named shipwreck off Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire he had found a silver pocket watch.

The watch had an inscription


Rich Hughes had been trying for many years to find any relatives of Richard Prichard but had failed in his efforts and had asked for assistance. So the job fell to me.

Rich Hughes had attached a report of his findings to the e-mail and this is a summary:

Rich found the watch in April 2000

There is a crest on the rear cover of the watch

The brass mechanism was remarkably intact and it also had an inscription which reads “Richd B Thomas No 63826”

Richd B Thomas –  Richd B Thomas was “Richard Bonner Thomas ( watchmaker), Bank Place, Porthmadoc, North Wales” , He traded from 1865 to 1895

The Inscription “Richard Prichard Abersoch 1866 North Wales” is clear to see on the silver case

The hall mark on the right is a hallmark for 1863.

It has been said that a person who would own a solid silver hand made pocket watch at this period of time, 1866 must have been high status / Master Mariner. 

In the search for the identity of Richard Prichard, the first place I looked were the gravestone inscription books for Llanengan Church and Bwlch cemeteries which are published by the Gwynedd Family History Society. I found the following entry in the Bwlch book:


B:36. Er coffadwriaeth am/ROWLAND PRICHARD/Bryncethin, yr hwn a

fu farw Awst/21, 1878 yn 72 ml. oed

Yma am hir amod - rhaid llechu

Yn llwch oer y beddrod

Ond codi gaf o'i geudod,

Yn hoew a rhydd y dydd sy'n dod

Ganddo ef ei hun


Hefyd am ei fab/Capt. RICHARD PRICHARD/Barque Barbara/Yr

hwn a fu farw ar ei fordaith i Rangoon/Mai 12fed, 1881/yn

38 mlwydd oed


Fry hedodd yn adferadwy - o'r môr

A’r marw ofnadwy,

Ni wel nerth na rhyferthwy,

Un mor mawr na marw mwy


Hefyd am JANE PRICHARD/Gwraig y dywededig ROWLAND PRICHARD/


Yr hon a fu farw Medi 28ain, 1893/yn 81 mlwydd oed

Jane dan y gwys a orwedd – Yma

Mewn anmharch a llygredd;

Ond daw allan mewn dullwedd,

Cadarn, foreu barn o’r bedd



Could this be our man? It looked promising. This Richard Prichard was born in Bryncethin Fawr in September 1842 to Rowland and Jane Prichard. He was at Bryncethin Fawr in the 1851 census with his parents and older sister Jane.  By the 1861 census Richard Prichard was an ordinary seaman on board the ‘Angora’ at Falmouth dock.


1851 census Bryncethin


Name                          Status            Age            Occupation               Place of birth

Rowland Richards            Head   45             Farmer                       Llangian

Jane Richards                        Wife    39                                            Denio or Pwllheli

JaneRichards             Dau.            11                                            Llanengan

Richard Richards            Son            8                                              Llangian

Mary Richards            Dau.            6 months                                    Llangian


1861 census Angora at Falmouth Dock, Cornwall


Name                          Status              Age            Occupation               Place of birth

James Owens             Married          34            Master                         Bangor

John Roberts              Widower         42            Mate                            Pwllheli

John Jones                 Unmarr.          26            AB seaman                        Bangor

Roland Jones             Unmarr.          33            AB seaman                        Pwllheli

Richard Prichard            Unmarr.          19            Ordinary seaman            Pwllheli

Alexander Ross            Unmarr.          20            Ordinary seaman            Dunbar Scotland

John Jones                 Unmarr.          18            Ordinary seaman            Anglesey                    

Information gathered from the Welsh Mariner’s website shows that Richard Prichard was the captain of the barque ‘Barbara’ from 1879 until his death on board ‘Barbara’ on 12th May 1881 en route to Rangoon. It also mentions that he became a mate in 1866, a first mate in 1868 and an overseas captain in 1874.

It would seem therefore that Richard Prichard would have been presented with the watch when he got promoted to mate in 1866. The watchmaker Richard Bonner Thomas ran his business in Porthmadog so one must assume that the watch was bought there and presented to Richard Prichard either by his senior officers and crew or maybe his parents Rowland and Jane Prichard of Bryncethin Fawr.

The wreck lying off the Pembrokeshire coast at Freshwater West is Richard Prichard’s ship the Barque Barbara. There are several newspaper reports of the shipwreck in November 1881.

A month later there was an inquiry at Liverpool. There is a report of it in the Liverpool Mercury of 21st December 1881 

An article appeared in the North Wales Chronicle in April 1887 where the son of the owner of the ship who was on board that fateful night presented a tribute to Captain J O Williams of the Coastguards who had rescued the crew apart from Captain Jones who went down with his ship.

Therefore the barque Barbara foundered on the rocks in Freshwater Bay, Pembrokeshire laden with a cargo of rice on her way back from Rangoon. Richard Prichard had died on the outward journey to Rangoon on 12th May 1881 and one must assume that Captain Jones took over as captain only to go down with the Barbara on the night of Tuesday 22nd November 1881. The crew one would assume were bringing Richard Prichard’s watch back to his family but the watch went down with the ship. A sad story indeed.

Richard Prichard had married Margaret Jones of Hendy, Llanbedrog and they had a son John Meriedydd born in 1877. There is also a memorial to Richard Prichard on the gravestone of his wife and son in Llanbedrog cemetery.


Er cof am


Barque Barbara

Bu farw ar ei fordaith i Rangoon

Mai 12fed 1881

Yn 38 mlwydd oed


Hefyd ei anwyl fab


Hendy, Llanbedrog

Bu farw Ebrill 8fed 1910



“Gynt Hendy” Llanbedrog

Anwyl briod Capt Prichard

Bu farw yn Isfryn Llanbedrog

Rhagfyr 26 1927, yn 85 mlwydd oed


His son died in 1910 at Hendy aged 32; he was also a mariner. His wife Margaret died in 1927 in Isfryn Llanbedrog. It does not seem that his son married and had children. Richard Prichard had three sisters, Jane born 1840, Mary born 1851 and Anne; born 1856. I do not know what became of Jane and Mary but Anne married John Jones in Abersoch Chapel in 1880. John and Anne Jones moved to Liverpool to sell milk for a few years but returned to farm Bryncethin Fawr in 1893 following the death of Jane Prichard (nee Williams), Anne’s mother. 

John and Anne Jones had five children including Richard Prichard Jones of Angorfa Stores, Mynytho and Margaret Dilys Roberts of Bryncethin Fawr but there would seem to be no surviving relatives down this line of descendants. Three other children Annie (1881-1898), Evan Walter (1889-1921) and Jennie (1892-1895) died without issue. It would be interesting to find out what became of Jane Prichard born 1840 and Mary Prichard born 1851, both sisters of Captain Richard Prichard.

There are relatives of Richard Prichard:

On his wife’s side – descendants of Hendy Llanbedrog.

On his mother’s side –descendants of Captain Richard Williams of Sarn Bach. He was the grandfather of Richard Prichard, and father of Jane Williams – mother of Richard Prichard.

Rich Hughes of the Red Dragons Divers Club feels it is high time the watch came home after a gap of 130 years. One can only agree with such a sentiment.


Barque Barbara

The Barbara was built at Sunderland in 1877 by W Doxford and Sons. She was an iron clad barque with a net weight of 1082 tons. The owners were W Thomas and Co. of Amlwch; son William Thomas junior was aboard on the night that Barbara sank in 1881. Her home port was Liverpool.


Shipwreck site

There are two wrecks at the site in Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire. There is the Barbara, which sank on 22nd November 1881; all hands were saved apart from Captain Jones who went down with his ship. Also on the site is the Italian barque Guanito which sank in January 1887. All twelve hands were lost, eight bodies being washed ashore. Rich Hughes’s diving team have recovered the ship’s bell belonging to the Guanito.

David Roberts            Llanbedrog                 20/06/2009



Many thanks to David Roberts for all his hard work.


Map or Safle                Website Map

Copyright ©