PRITCHARD, Sir William (c.1632-1705), of Heydon Yard, The Minories, London and Great Linford, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1702 - 18 Feb. 1705

Family and Education

b. c.1632, 2nd s. of Francis Pritchard, rope-maker, of Horsleydown, Surr. by Mary, da. of Edward Eggleston. m. c.1669, Sarah, da. of Francis Cook of Kingsthorpe, Northants., 2s. d.v.p. Kntd. 28 Oct. 1672.1

Offices Held

Member, Merchant Taylors’ Co. 1655, master 1673-4, asst. to 1687; alderman, London 1672-87, Oct. 1688-d., sheriff 1672-3, ld. mayor 1682-3, commr. for assessment 1673-80, 1689-90, col. blue regt. of militia 1676-87, white regt. 1690-4, 1702-d., dep. lt. 1677-87, Oct. 1688-?94, 1702-d., v.-pres. Hon. Artillery Co. 1680, pres. 1681-90, 1703-4; j.p. Kent 1683-Feb. 1688, Mdx. 1690-d.; gov. Irish Soc. 1687, Oct. 1688-90; pres. St. Bartholomew’s hosp. Oct. 1688-d.; committee E.I. Co. 1696-7, 1698-1703; asst. R. Africa Co. 1699-1700, 1704-d.2


Pritchard was apprenticed in 1647 to a Merchant Taylor, but later inherited his father’s business, and in 1663 was appointed ‘rope and match-maker to the Ordnance’. He quickly became wealthy: his account with Clayton and Morris rose from £7,000 in 1674 to £11,597 in 1678, and he was able to purchase the manor of Great Linford for £19,500 and endow the school and six almshouses there. As an alderman of London, he was not very active or influential on the common council, though he was appointed to the city lands committee in 1676. During the exclusion crisis, Pritchard took the side of the Court in the corporation, and in August 1682 he was chosen one of the stewards of the feast of ‘the loyal young freemen and apprentices of the City of London’ held in Merchant Taylors’ Hall in the presence of several ministers of the crown, in an attempt to rally support for the Government in the City. On 29 Sept. following, at the common hall to choose a lord mayor, Pritchard, though the alderman next in turn, found himself opposed by two Whigs, and polled 56 votes less than his nearest opponent. A scrutiny was demanded, the result of which was referred to the court of aldermen, who disqualified enough Whig votes to give him a majority of 14. On 28 Oct. the King wrote to Pritchard ‘declaring he would have the lord mayor presented to himself’ instead of to the lord chancellor, as he was ‘so well pleased with their choice of so honest and loyal a man’. In January 1683 a newsletter, commenting on Pritchard’s mayoralty, observed ‘all agree that the lord mayor behaved in the chair with a great deal of prudence and resolution’. On 28 Apr. following Pritchard was arrested at the suit of Thomas Papillon and John Dubois for refusing to admit them as sheriffs after their election in 1682. The arrest was carried out by Broome, the nonconformist coroner and a close associate of Thomas Pilkington, apparently as part of an abortive Whig coup in London. After his release, the common council disclaimed responsibility and passed a vote of apology. On the forfeiture of the charter in October he was continued as lord mayor by royal authority with ‘a commission in the nature of a custos over the City’. After a trial at the Guildhall in November 1684 before Judge Jeffreys, Pritchard was awarded £10,000 damages for wrongful arrest, whereupon Papillon absconded.3

Returned for London in 1685, Pritchard was an inactive Member of James II’s Parliament. His only committees were on bills against importing tallow candles and for the relief of insolvent debtors. In August 1687 he was discharged as alderman by royal letter for opposing the London address for liberty of conscience, and was removed as president of the Hon. Artillery Company. At this time, at the King’s request he granted Papillon relief of judgment and renounced the damages awarded to him. On the restoration of the charter in October 1688, he was called on by Jeffreys to resume office; but

after six hours disputing the matter (and having urged that he had a great cold, which was an admirable excuse) [he] absolutely refused.

After the Revolution he became much more active in the court of common council, and was appointed to the committee to draw up the London address to the Prince of Orange on 11 Dec. 1688. He served for the City in two more Parliaments as a court Tory. He died on 18 Dec. 1705 in the 74th year of his age, and was buried at Great Linford.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 133; Bridges, Northants. i. 415.
  • 2. PC2/72/506; Luttrell, v. 193; HMC Lords, iii. 45; G. A. Raikes, Hist. Hon. Artillery Co. ii. 477.
  • 3. Guildhall Lib. mss 6428; Guildhall RO, common council jnl.; Luttrell, i. 212, 231-2, 283, 319; CSP Dom. 1682, pp. 442, 453, 487, 512; Jan-June 1683, p. 16; HMC 7th Rep. 481; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 2, p. 457; North, Examen, 617; State Trials, x. 319-71.
  • 4. Ailesbury Mems. 176; HMC 7th Rep. 504; F. W. Papillon, Mems. of Thomas Papillon, 238-50; HMC Dartmouth, i. 143; Luttrell, i. 471; Ellis Corresp. ii. 350; Lipscomb, Bucks. iv. 222, 227; PCC 156 Gee.