The Pritchard Family – One Drowning, two burials

by Annette Edwards

William Pritchard was born in Woolwich Kent about 1809,  by 1834 he had made his way to Chester and married local girl Frances Cathrall,  she was born in 1801  and was the daughter of John and Mary Cathrall.  They moved to the High Street in Llanbedrig close to Caernarvon, William was a bookseller, then the post master and a stationer.  Over the years they had 5 known children.

William Henry Pritchard was born in 1841 and George Pritchard was baptised in 1843.

The 1861 census  shows that the brothers were both tax clerks, living in Llanbeblig with their parents and sister Alice Mary and the family moved to Wrexham soon after.

William Henry and George appeared on a list of Provincial Welsh Insurance Clerks in an article in The Wrexham Advertiser in February 1863, when they were both recorded as being Prince of Wales Fire Brigade Volunteers, on the fire brigade’s inception in March of the same year, (George Pritchard would later be elected as the fire brigade’s secretary).

Throughout the 1860’s, the Pritchard brothers were named in a number of newspaper articles, as cricketers, playing together for both The Provincial Insurance Office and The Prince of Wales Fire Brigade’s cricket teams; and in October 1864 The Wrexham Advertiser recorded the first ever football game of Wrexham Football and Athletic Club; – ‘a ten-a-side’ match against The Prince of Wales Fire Brigade, which took place on The Racecourse, on 22nd October.

Both William Henry and George were known to have played for Wrexham Football and Athletic Club in the opening game of the 1865 season, and both were later recorded as having a long association with The Racecourse and the football club. Both men were listed in Wrexham Football Club teams throughout the 1860’s and 70’s; and they also competed in the club’s annual sports events, with William Henry winning trophies in 1866. William Henry was then elected as Secretary to Wrexham Football and Athletic Club in 1868, and George would serve as acting President in 1874.

William Henry married Margaret Susan Bithel at St Giles Church, Wrexham, on 4th June 1870, and in 1871 Margaret gave birth to a son named William at their home, at 24 Albert Street, Hightown.

The brothers were   working together as insurance clerks in the same office, and were often listed together, with William Henry’s wife, in newspaper reports of social events in the town.  George became known as a talented illuminator, and something of an intellectual, having been elected secretary to a society in which, he was asked to write a course of lectures that the working classes people of the town could attend, he was also elected as Secretary to The Wrexham Working Men’s Institute and was the local representative of The London Times newspaper, as well as being a member of The Loyal Cambrian Lodge of Oddfellows. The brothers continued to play football together, and both played for The Provincial Football Club against Wrexham Football Club, at The Racecourse Ground in 1873. George also played for Wrexham Football Club in a game against Wynnstay, a few weeks later, in Jan 1874.

William Henry’s wife gave birth to a daughter on 29th May 1874, but sadly William Henry died in Wrexham on 4th January 1875 aged 34.  His death was announced in the newspapers.

William Henry Pritchard, Of the Provincial Insurance Office, Wrexham, and eldest son of Mr Wm. Pritchard, formerly of Carnarvon. He would have been buried in the Ruthin Road cemetery.

Shortly after the death of his brother, George Pritchard was promoted to the position of Chief Clerk at The Provincial Insurance Company, and on Friday 13th August 1875 he attended a meeting of The Loyal Cambrian Lodge of Oddfellows, before leaving for a holiday at The Isle of Man with fellow insurance Clerk and Wrexham Football Club Player- Edwin Alfred Cross, and another friend from Manchester. Just days after arriving, George was swimming in Douglas Bay when another bather got into difficulty and called for help, and as George was swimming over to help him, he also got into trouble, and both men drowned.

The other man was S Campbell, a married builder and contractor from Liverpool

George died aged 32, on 17th August 1875, he was brought home and was buried at the Ruthin Road Cemetery on 21st August 1875.

28th August 1875 The Wrexham Guardian gave a full account of the funeral.

FUNERAL OF MR GEORGE PRITCHARD. The body of the above named gentleman was brought to Wrexham, by railway on Friday evening. A hearse was at the station awaiting the arrival of the train, and a considerable number of persons had assembled at, and in the vicinity of, the station. The coffin was at once placed in the hearse and conveyed to the residence of the deceased’s father in Poplar-road, and great sympathy towards the relatives of the deceased was manifested by the public, no doubt more especially on account of the melancholy manner in which Mr G. Pritchard met his death, and also from the respect all who knew him entertained towards him.

It appears that some time ago the deceased, who was a member of the Fire Brigade and its hon. secretary, expressed a desire that in the event of his death his remains should be conveyed to the burying ground on the fire engine of course little dreaming that his end was so near or that it would take place under such circumstances. The interment took place at five o’clock on Saturday, at the cemetery, in Ruthin road. The members of the Fire Brigade assembled at the fire-station, Chester Street, at four o’clock, attired in uniform, and proceeded in procession, preceded by the engine drawn by four horses, by way of High-street, Town-hill, Penybryn, &c., to Poplar- road accompanied by a large number of the friends’ of the deceased and the general public, and the line of route was thronged with spectators.  In the neighbourhood of the deceased father’s residence the crowd was large. The coffin was placed upon the  engine and conveyed, to the cemetery, followed by relatives and a large number of the friends of the deceased, directors of the Provincial Insurance Company, and officiate of the ‘Provincial and Alliance Insurance Company, by all of whom he was highly and deservedly respected.

The following is the order in which the funeral   left the house and proceeded to the cemetery: FIRE BRIGADE. Engineer Lloyd,  Sergt T. R. Heywood,  Supt. Young, Thos. Jones, P. Ashton,W. Hughes, Private J. W, Jones,  Private C. W. Bayley, Private J. W. M. Smith,  Private Edward Jones ,  Private John Lloyd ,  Private G. Chadwick, Private Roger Williams , Private R. C. Vaughan,  Captain Turner , Lieut. Edward Evans.  CARRIERS.  Privates John Lloyd, Roger Williams, G. Chadwick, and R. C. Vaughan. PALL BEARERS. Privates Edward Jones, J. W. M. Smith, Lieut. Edward Evans, and Capt Turner. Members of the Loyal Cambrian.Lodge of Oddfellows.

The burial service was very impressively read by the Vicar (the Rev. D. Howell), assisted by the Rev. Griffith Jones, curate. By some it was anticipated that allusion would be made at the grave to the circumstances which led to the deceased’s death but no reference was made thereto. Some of the friends of the deceased, who, being desirous that some permanent memorial of their appreciation of his many valuable services and noble qualities should be obtained, have formed themselves into committee for carrying this into effect.

 It has been proposed to place a Memorial Stone, bearings suitable inscription, over his grave in the cemetery—a most fitting and lasting tribute to a meritorious friend. It was, we believe, at first intended that contributions should not be requested, except from the gentlemen who mooted the matter; but very naturally a large number of the late Mr Pritchard’s friends and acquaintances, having expressed a desire to be allowed to contribute, their wish has been acceded to and no doubt a memorial stone worthy the sad occasion will speedily be raised, in all probability of a more elaborate character than was at first contemplated. The committee will gladly receive donations for the purpose. Mr John Francis, of the Provincial Insurance Office, is chairman of the committee; Mr J. W. M. Smith, borough surveyor, Guildhall, hon treasurer; and Mr G. Bradley Jones, hon. secretary:  by either of whom contributions will be received.

 M. Walter Scott, of Wrexham, writes to us:— “ As the reports in the newspapers of the drowning of Mr George Pritchard contain several inaccuracies,  perhaps you may deem the following facts of sufficient interest for insertion in next Saturday’s Guardian: I was an eye witness to the dreadful calamity, having gone out with Mr Pritchard to bathe. Mr Pritchard got out of the van first, and I immediately followed him. I had just taken a dive when I heard cries for help. Upon looking round I saw Mr Pritchard and Mr Campbell seven or eight yards from me. Someone in the water called out – Help that man and pointed towards Mr Pritchard. Mr Campbell was then calling for help, and Mr Pritchard immediately swam towards him, grasped hold of his shoulder, and appeared to be pushing him towards the shore. I reached out my hand to try and help them, but they were too far away. I was then nearly out of depth, and I called out to the shore for help. After waiting a few minutes a man came out on horseback with a rope but could not reach them; by this time the two men separated and Mr Campbell was about five yards further out than Mr Pritchard, and was evidently dead, as he was floating with his face downwards. Mr Pritchard was still struggling and continued to do so until the time Mr Aitken went out to him.

He then became exhausted and floated with his head downwords. Mr Aitken threw him a rope, which he did not grasp, and returned to the shore. Another gentleman immediately swam out and brought Mr Pritchard’s body to the shore. In the meantime a machine man had galloped off for a boat, which on coming up brought in Mr Campbell’s body.” 

The following year on 15th January 1876 an article was printed in the Wrexham Advertiser.

THE MEMORIAL TO THE LATE MR GEORGE PRITCHARD. The committee formed for the purpose of erecting a memorial stone to the memory of the late Mr George Pritchard have decided to place the proposed monument in the new cemetery, Ruabon road, as soon as arrangements can be made for so doing, this being in accordance with the wishes of most of the subscribers. The memorial will take the form of an obelisk of the height of over ten feet, surrounded by ornamental standards and chains. The material will be the best Yorkshire stone, with a granite tablet sunk into the pedestal to receive the inscription. The work of carrying out the intentions of the friends has been entrusted to Messrs. Samuel Davies and Son, masons, Regent-street, who expect to have the work completed in about two months’ time. About £250 has been promised to the fund, and Mr J. W. M. Smith, the treasurer, would be glad to receive the amounts promised by those who have not yet paid in their subscriptions.

Another article was published in the Wrexham Guardian on 16th September 1876.

THE MEMORIAL TO THE LATE MR PRITCHARD. The Town Clerk read a letter from Mr Bradley Jones on behalf of the committee appointed to make arrangements for the erection of a monument in the new cemetery to the memory to the late Mr George Pritchard, of the Provincial Insurance Office, who it will be remembered unfortunately met his death by drowning some time ago whilst on a visit to the Isle of Man. The application was that the body of the deceased be allowed to be placed under a monument in an ordinary grave instead of a vault, excluding all ocher members of the family, and that the grave be bricked to a sufficient height to hold a coffin. It transpired that a faculty had been obtained from St. Asaph for exhuming the body from the old and re-interring it in the new cemetery. It appearing that the monument would cover the space of two graves, it was agreed that the committee be asked to increase their subscriptions to enable them to acquire the additional ground, and the Town Clerk kindly intimated that he might be put down for a sovereign towards the extra sum required.

The Ruabon Road burial register shows that George Pritchard aged 32 of 9 Poplar Road was buried on 27 October 1876.  He was the 8th person to be buried there.

His mother Frances died aged 81 at 26 Talbot Road and was buried on 28 October 1882.

His father William also died there aged 78 and was buried on 21 November 1885.

THE LATE MR WM. PRITCHARD. — We regret to announce the death of Mr Wm. Pritchard, Talbot-road, which took place on Thursday, at the age of 78, after a long illness extending over fourteen months. The deceased gentleman was for twenty-three years resident in Wrexham, and was at one time connected with the Wrexham Telegraph. He subsequently entered the office of the Provincial Insurance Company, and then the service of the Alliance Company, where he remained until the period of his illness. Prior to his residence in Wrexham he was connected with the bookselling and publishing business in Carnarvon and Chester, and there, as in Wrexham, he was well-known and universally respected. Mr Pritchard took a warm interest in all matters pertaining to Wales, and had a large information concerning Welsh habits and customs, upon which subject he had frequently contributed interesting articles to our columns. The funeral takes place to-day (Saturday.)

Wrexham Advertiser 21 November 1885

George and his parents are buried in adjoining plots.   Also buried there is  daughter Alice Mary Pritchard born in 1845, she never married and remained in 26 Talbot Road until her death in 1917 aged 72.

The other person named is daughter Annie Jones, in 1861 she was in Wrexham with her husband Daniel Jones, an ironmonger who was from Llandegla, over the next few years they moved around and by 1871 were in Wigan. He isn`t found after then but Annie moved back to Wrexham to 17 Cunliffe Street, she was there in 1901 and died there in May 1921.

George had lost his life by drowning, had been buried, possibly with his brother, but was now to be removed and buried again.  It must have been very distressing for the rest of his family, or perhaps they were happy for him to have such a fine memorial. There was nothing in the newspapers about the second burial and his brother isn`t in the Ruabon Road Cemetery. 

Researched by Annette Edwards. September 2019.

Many thanks to “eastsussexred” who researched the sporting history and much more about the Pritchard family.

Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery J-02810 J-02811

(Front Face) A SPONTANEOUS TRIBUTE BY A LARGE NUMBER OF FRIENDS TO THE MEMORY OF GEORGE PRITCHARD OF WREXHAM, SON OF WILLIAM & FRANCES PRITCHARD, FORMERLY OF CARNARVON, WHO ON THE 17TH OF AUGUST 1875 WAS DROWNED IN DOUGLAS BAY, ISLE OF MAN, AGED 32 YEARS. “SACRED THAT ALL MAY BE REMINDED OF HIM AND, BY NEW EXAMPLE ADDED TO OLD PERPETUAL PRECEPT, BE TAUGHT WHAT IS REAL WORTH IN MAN (CARLYLE)”. (Right Face) IN LOVING MEMORY OF FRANCES PRITCHARD, MOTHER OF THE AFORESAID GEORGE PRITCHARD, WHO DIED OCT 23, 1882, AGED 81 YEARS. ALSO WILLIAM PRITCHARD, HUSBAND OF THE ABOVE, WHO DIED NOV 18, 1885, AGED 78 YEARS. (Left Face) IN LOVING MEMORY OF ALICE MARY PRITCHARD, DAUGHTER OF WILLIAM AND FRANCES PRITCHARD, WHO DIED 30 JUNE 1917, AGED 72 YEARS. “A BRAVE, LOYAL AND GENEROUS HEART LIES HERE”. ALSO ANNE, WIDOW OF THE LATE DANIEL JONES AND DAUGHTER OF WILLIAM AND FRANCES PRITCHARD, WHO DIED MARCH 9TH, 1921, AGED 85 YEARS. “GOD GRANT THY WEARIED ONE REST FOR EVERMORE”.

Memorial Transcription