This is a Welsh patronymic formed from the fusion of the prefix 'ap' meaning 'son of' with the personal name Richard. Richard itself derives from the Olde German 'Ricehard', a compound of the elements 'ric', meaning 'power', plus 'hard', strong or brave and is first recorded as Ricard in the Domesday Book of 1086. The surname appears in the latter half of the 13th Century - Juliana Richard (1276, The Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire). The English patronymic form Richard(e)s is recorded in 1327, the final '(e)s' on the name being a reduced form of 'son of'. The Welsh patronymic appears in the early 16th Century, (see below). Rhys Prichard (1579 - 1644) M.A. Oxford 1626, was a Welsh religious poet. James Cowles Prichard (1786 - 1848), ethnologist and M.D. Edinburgh, 1808, published 'Researches as to the Physical History of Man' in 1813. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Prichard or Ap - Richard, which was dated 1521 - The Oxford University Register, during the reign of King Henry VIII, Bluff King Hal, 1509 - 1547. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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