This notable surname is of medieval Welsh origin, and is a patronymic of the male given name Richard, formed from a fusion of the Welsh suffix "ap", with the personal name. Richard derives from the Old German "Ric(h)ard", a compound of the elements "ric", power, and "hard", hardy, brave, strong. Found occasionally in pre-Conquest Britain as "Ricehard", the name was not popularized in England until after the Norman Conquest of 1066, and "Ricard" (without surname) appears in the Domesday Book of 1086. A quotation from the Privy Purse Expenses of Princess Mary reads, "Item, geven to William ap-Richard vs."; in 1545, a William Ap-Richard or Prichard was entered in the Oxford University Register. The surname is particularly well recorded in Shropshire Church Registers from the late 16th Century, and on February 7th 1595, the christening of Jane, daughter of Henry Pritchard, took place at Great Ness. Notable bearers of the name include: Sir William Pritchard, Lord Mayor of London, 1682; Hannah Pritchard (1711 - 1768), actress, who played at Drury Lane, London, and was held to be the greatest Lady MacBeth of her day; and Charles Pritchard, Savilian professor of astronomy at Cambridge, 1867. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of David Aprycharde, which was dated 1521, in the "Oxford University Register", during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "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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