PRICHARD, Sir William (c.1632-1705), of Heydon Yard, The Minories, London, Highgate, Mdx., and Great Linford, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1632, 2nd s. and h. of Francis Prichard, of Horsleydown, Southwark, Surr. by Mary, da. of Edward Eggleston. m. by 1669, Sarah (d. 1718), da. of Francis Cooke of Kingsthorpe, Northants. 1s. d.v.p. Kntd. 28 Oct. 1672.1
Freeman, Merchant Taylors’ Co. 1655, asst. 1672, master 1673–4; vice-pres. Hon. Artillery Co. 1681, pres. 1681–90, 1703–d.; pres. St. Bartholomew’s Hosp. by 1687, Nov. 1688–d.; gov. Irish Soc. 1687, Oct. 1688–90; gov. Highgate sch. 1689–d.; trustee, Friendly Soc. 1694; dir. E. I. Co. 1696–7, 1698–1703; asst. R. African Co. 1699–1700.
Alderman, London, 1672–87, Oct. 1688–d., sheriff 1672–3, ld. mayor 1682–3.
Commr. Greenwich Hosp. 1695, taking subscriptions to the land bank, 1696.2
Of Welsh ancestry, Prichard took up his father’s ropemaking trade and, based at Eltham, Kent, established himself as a major supplier of rope and match to the Ordnance. One source suggests that he held an office at the Tower as early as 1662, and it was certainly his connexions with the Ordnance which facilitated his purchase of The Minories in 1673. Having recently become alderman for Broad Street, he increasingly concentrated his political ambitions on the capital, even though by 1683 he had spent £19,500 to obtain the manor of Great Linford, Buckinghamshire. In the wake of the Exclusion crisis he emerged as one of the Court’s staunchest allies among the aldermen, gaining election as lord mayor in October 1682 and subsequently overseeing the forfeiture of the London charter. Acclaimed by the Duke of York as ‘a good and loyal lord mayor’, he was installed in October 1683 as the first mayor under the City’s new charter, and his leadership of the City Tories was further confirmed by election as Member for London in 1685. However, he was subsequently removed from the court of aldermen in August 1687 for failing to assent to the corporation’s address of thanks for the first Declaration of Indulgence, a dismissal lamented by the Earl of Ailesbury (Thomas, Lord Bruce†), who regarded Prichard and his mayoral predecessor, Sir John Moore†, as ‘two pillars for Church and monarchy’. Prichard regained his alderman’s place on the restoration of the charter in October 1688, but ‘absolutely refused’ to resume the mayoralty. Such obstinacy was a prelude to his appointment on 11 Dec. to the City committee to draw up an address to William of Orange, and his acceptance of the new regime by early 1690 can be gauged by his willingness to advance the government several loans, totalling £6,000.3
The months which followed the accession of William and Mary saw intense political manoeuvring between the City’s competing factions, which in Prichard’s case brought mixed fortunes. In February 1690 he was dismissed as president of the Honorary Artillery Company, but within a few months had been returned as a Member for the City and had become a colonel of a regiment in the London militia. At the outset of the Parliament Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) identified him as a Tory, and regarded him as a supporter of the Court.
In the ensuing sessions he proved an inactive Member, although he was included on the committee appointed on 8 Apr. 1690 to prepare a bill to restore the rights of the London corporation. Only a month later he featured at the centre of another civic struggle, moving a mandamus in King’s bench to unseat the Whig mayor Sir Thomas Pilkington*. Robert Harley* thought this a ‘frivolous’ attack and the Tories failed to gain any political advantage. Prichard found himself under pressure soon afterwards when the Whigs used a Lords’ inquiry into the London lieutenancy to highlight his factious activities as a magistrate during the 1680s. The government itself, however, was more interested in his financial contacts, the Treasury writing to him in person in May 1690 to beg his assistance in raising loans in the City. Moreover, a list of office-holders reveals that after the Revolution he received a salary as ‘matchmaker’ to the Ordnance. Further endorsement of his standing in the capital had been delivered in March 1690 by Sir Peter Rich†, who singled him out as a leading Tory financier.4
In the second session of the 1690 Parliament Prichard was cited by Lord Carmarthen as a probable ally and as a supporter of the Court. However, when distinguishing between Court and Country Members in April 1691 Robert Harley actually described Prichard’s political allegiance as doubtful. Although largely inconspicuous in the Commons, he remained prominent in City politics, proposed as he was by the London orphans in December 1691 as one of the commissioners to enforce the bill to satisfy the debts outstanding from the corporation. In February 1693, he was once again embroiled in civic divisions, acting as a teller on the 27th to block the reading of a petition from the London corporation concerning a bill to satisfy the City’s debts to the orphans. The City Whigs clearly regarded him as a dangerous opponent, and were quick to relieve him of his colonelcy after a new commission of lieutenancy had been issued in 1694. Moreover, at the shrieval elections of that year he clashed with the Whig lord mayor Sir William Ashurst*. He was later cited in connexion with the Commons’ inquiry into the corrupt activities of the East India Company, although the House heard on 25 Apr. 1695 that Sir Basil Firebrace* had testified to Prichard’s honesty while trading the company’s stock. Prichard had, in fact, sat on the committee of the interloping merchants as early as October 1691, but his associations with the company only strengthened in the wake of the Commons’ investigation. Also in the 1694–5 session, he was listed by Henry Guy* as one of his probable supporters.
At the London election of 1695 Prichard narrowly failed to retain his City seat against a much stronger Whig challenge, and, although requesting a scrutiny at the poll, he did not subsequently petition. Outside the House he continued to act as one of the leading Tory figures in the City, gaining appointment in 1696 as one of the commissioners to take subscriptions for the land bank, and also becoming for the first time a director of the East India Company. However, he declined to contest the London election of July 1698, having reportedly shown an initial willingness to stand. He did feature as a candidate at the poll of January 1701, but finished last in a contest heavily influenced by divisions over the East India trade. Prichard’s prominence within the Old East India Company had been highlighted during the preceding Parliament when he was one of the seven commissioners appointed by the Old Company in February 1699 to treat with their rivals. After such a poor electoral performance, he was understandably reluctant to stand at the second election of 1701, but his confidence was boosted shortly before the first contest of Anne’s reign by his reappointment as a colonel in the City militia. He finished fourth in the ensuing poll as the Tories took three of the four London seats in confirmation of their civic ascendancy. In the ensuing Parliament he again proved inconspicuous, failing to make any significant contribution to the business of the House. He maintained his principles, however, forecast by Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) as a probable supporter in preparation for proceedings over the Scotch Plot, while on 30 Oct. 1704 he was cited as a probable supporter of the Tack.5
Prichard did not live to see the end of the 1702 Parliament, dying on 18 Feb. 1705 ‘in his 74th year’. Having lain ‘in great state’ at his Highgate home, his body was taken for burial at Great Linford, where Lewis Atterbury, brother of the High Churchman Francis, delivered his funeral sermon. A loyal supporter of the Church in the Commons, Prichard had given further testimony of his religious principles by becoming in 1701 one of the founding members of the SPG. Proclaiming him as ‘a most excellent magistrate’, his monument also celebrated his philanthropy towards St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and the parish of Great Linford. His only son William having predeceased him by 20 years, the estate passed to his nephews Richard Uthwat and Daniel King, although Prichard had made provision for it to pass to the London hospitals should there be a complete failure of his line.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Perry Gauci
- 1. Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 280–1; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. i. 351; Lipscomb, Bucks. iv. 227.
- 2. R. T. D. Sayle, Lord Mayors’ Pageants of Merchant Taylors’ Co. 137; G. A. Raikes, Hist. Hon. Artillery Co. ii. 474–5; Beaven, Aldermen, ii. 106; N. Moore, Hist. St. Bartholomew’s Hosp. 235–6, 345–6; Survey of London, xvii. 142; Add. 38871; 10120, ff. 232–6; K. G. Davies, R. African Co. 386; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 358.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. p. 800; ix. 2002, 2006–7; E. M. Tomlinson, Hist. Minories, 154; Lipscomb, 222; CSP Dom. 1682, p. 497; Ailesbury Mems. 175; HMC Dartmouth i. 143; R. Beddard, Kingdom Without a King, 171.
- 4. Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 13; Portledge Pprs. 73; Add. 70270, Harley to his wife, 31 May 1690; HMC Lords, iii. 48–54; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 682; SP 8/13, list of office-holders, c.1691; Dorset RO, Fox-Strangways mss D124/235, bdle. 4, Sir Peter Rich† to Sir Stephen Fox*, 17 Mar. 1690.
- 5. HMC Lords, 298; Bodl. Rawl. C.449; Luttrell, iii. 540; v. 193; BL, Verney mss mic. 636/47, John Verney* (Visct. Fermanagh) to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, 13 Sept. 1694; CJ xii. 508; Flying Post, 21–23 Feb. 1699.
- 6. Misc. Gen. et Her. 351; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1650–1718, p. 207; Le Neve’s Knights, 280–1; PCC 156 Gee.