History of the
Pritchett & King Family
of Oxfordshire, London's East
and Sydney Australia
modified 30 Oct 2020
If you can fill any gaps please email me.

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Pedigree of William Pritchett
William Pritchett

This is an outline of the ancestors and descendants of William Jacob Pritchett and his wife Annie BROWN. William, raised in difficult circumstances in the East End of London emigrated to Sydney, Australia in the early 1910s. He worked hard and established an electrical engineering business. In 1914 he was joined by his bride to be, Annie Brown.  Now to the beginning of what I have uncovered so far...

It is said the name Pritchett is Welsh in origin and, along with Pritchard and other spelling variations, as being derived from the "son of Richard". In the middle ages people were usually given a christian name only, names of kings, queens saints and apostles were popular. In later years surnames came into use, maybe as people needed to be identified accurately for Tax purposes.

Another theory is it is an occupational names derived from makers of pointed instruments. Or maybe the nick name for a tall thin man.

Research was conducted using the International Genealogical Index covering may parish records going back to the 1600’s. The LDS (Mormon) Church has a mammoth index of over 160 million names. It is freely available in large libraries and research centres. I also used the St Catherine’s Index of civil registration of births, death and marriages going back to the early 1840s in the UK. The records show the Pritchett name scattered around England. During the late 1800's each year would show twenty or thirty births. Large families were active in Birmingham, Bingham and Isle of Wight. In Oxfordshire the towns of Bicester, Banbury and Deddington had significant numbers.

There were several Pritchett convicts in NSW during the early 1800's, and at least two families arrived in NSW as immigrants in the 1880's. Three Pritchetts served in the AIF in WW1. I can find no connections with our family. About sixty Pritchetts are currently on the NSW electoral roll. A similar number are registered in Victoria, mainly in Gippsland east of Melbourne. There are many Pritchetts in the USA; a town named Pritchett and even a ship in the US Navy.

Our Pritchett family goes back to Bicester, Oxfordshire

Bicester Links
Bicester Village

A note from Annie (Brown) Pritchett to David Pritchett says his great grandfather, Jacob Pritchett was born in Isbester and later moved to London. I could not find an Isbester but noted many Pritchetts christened and married in Bicester, Oxfordshire. Bicester is pronounced "Bister".

Bicester is 13 miles from Oxford, 54 miles from London and on the old coach road to Birmingham. In the mid 1800s it was an agricultural and market town with lacemaking as a cottage industry. The town is said to be originally a Saxon frontier garrison town built from the ruins of a Roman town, Alchester. Its historic church, St Edburg’s dates to Norman times. The town has two parts, named Market End and King’s End. In 1861 the population was, Market End, 2711, King’s End, 338 giving a total of 3049.

The earliest relevant record I believe is the marriage of Jonathan Pritchett to Frances SHEERS in Bicester, on the 30th November 1778. Their son, William Pritchett (b. 1790) married Ann GRIMSLEY in 1811. William and Ann had nine children christened in Bicester including a Jacob in 1825.

The St Catherine’s records (the civil index of births) show the birth of an Isaac Pritchett in Bicester, Oxfordshire in December 1857. I obtained a copy of the full entry and it showed the following detail.. Isaac: born 11th December, 1857 at Chapel Street, Bicester, Market End. Father: Jacob Pritchett, Coalmerchants Labourer Mother: Ann Pritchett formerly Wakenell (difficult to read)

There is no mention of a marriage or christening in the parish records but these are incomplete.  I estimated a marriage date of about 1846 and assume there are other children. More research is needed...


Entries in early Bicester trade directories
1823  William Grimsley Bricklayer,
George Wakelin Plumber/Painter/Glazier
1830 William Grimsley, Water Lane, Plasterer,
George Wakelin, Sheep Street, Plumber/Painter/Glazier
1890 Thomas Grimsley & Son, Builders
James William Grimsley, Builders
William Grimsley, Sheep Street, Fishmonger
No Pritchett entries were noted.

I am confident but not positive this is the lineage of our Isaac Pritchett

Jonathan Pritchett Descendants

Isaac Pritchett & Agnes King

We know Isaac Pritchett moved to London in the late 1870s. The 1800’s was a time of increasing mechanisation on the farms of England. Workers were forced to move to the cities with their factories to find work. Isaac’s move could be seen in this context. In 1878, aged twenty, he married Agnes Mary KING. The marriage was solemnized in St Mary’s, Plaistow, on the eastern edge of London. His occupation was noted as a labourer. Annie (Brown) Pritchett says his occupation was a clock and watchmaker however it seems he could not use his skills in London. Agnes was the daughter of William and Mary King. William King’s occupation was listed as a labourer. We are told Agnes was born in Wales.


We know Isaac Pritchett moved to London in the late 1870s. The 1800’s was a time of increasing mechanisation on the farms of England. Workers were forced to move to the cities andr factories to find work. Isaac’s move could be seen in this context. In 1878, aged twenty, he married Agnes Mary KING. The marriage was solemnized in St Mary’s, Plaistow, on the eastern edge of London. His occupation was noted as a labourer. Annie (Brown) Pritchett says his occupation was a clock and watchmaker however it seems he could not use his skills in London. Agnes was the daughter of William and Mary King. William King’s occupation was listed as a labourer. We are told Agnes was born in Wales

Pritchett Family

William Jacob Pritchett
Ron Pritchett has written detailed memoirs titled the WJP Story.
Below is just a summary

William Jacob Pritchett was born in 23rd October 1888, his birth registered in Romford and their address being "The Ferry", Rainham. William sold papers at the Tilbury Docks, among other jobs, to help the family make ends meet. He decided to emigrate to Australia and worked his passage out. He studied Electrical Engineering on the voyage through an ICC correspondence course. After he established in Sydney himself he wrote to his girlfriend, Annie Brown, asking her to join him in Sydney and be his bride.

When William proposed marriage to Annie Brown half the world away she hesitated; but her father urged her to go. When the ship docked in Melbourne, its first port of call in Australia, she was surprised to see William waiting for her on the wharf. He insisted they marry immediately. Her wedding dress was in her trunk, deep in the cargo hold, and she was unable to retrieve it for the ceremony. They married in Melbourne, at St Paul's Cathedral in 1914. He was 25, she 23. His occupation was listed as Electrical Contractor and their residences were S.S. Norseman and S.S. Miltiades respectively. A witness to the wedding was Albert Pritchett who had come with Annie on the voyage..

baby William c1916
William and Annie with baby Bill

The following letter from Annie (Brown) Pritchett to David Pritchett, in the late 1970's fills in some details.


I have not got much history of your great grandfather Jacob Pritchett born in Isbester (Bicester) and his wife Agnes King born in Wales. Your great grandfather was a clock and watch maker and I have been told was clever but later came to London and did anything and everything. He did not make the best of his skills. Here his wife had three sons and five daughters one of who was out here and stayed with me in 1972.

William Jacob Pritchett came to Australia in 1911 and worked at the AMP as maintenance man for that company and some other insurance companies. Then he did contract work for a while. He patented the Pritchett Switch. He sent for me and I came in 1914 and we were married at St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne on the 18th April 1914.

We lived at Bondi until he built a house in Fairweather St, Bellevue Hill. We had four children and later moved to Vaucluse. You know the rest I think and I am sending these books of the factory he bought at Waterloo. Thought you may be interested but let me have them back.

Bill also brought out a switch which helped save life.(an early electromechanical earth leakage circuit breaker, a safety switch)

WJ Pritchett
William's portrait

They lived initially in a rented house in Bondi .William built, with help from subcontractors, their house in Fairweather St., Bellevue Hill. All four children were born at home, two at Bondi and two at Bellevue Hill. He was involved in the wiring of the first AMP building in Sydney and installing the telephone system in the huge Anthony Horden building (now demolished). In those days telephones were all installed by electrical contractors. He started an electrical switchboard manufacturing business sometime in the 1920's. He worked out of his garage at first, then rented factory premises in Ebley Street, Bondi Junction, NSW and later purchased a factory in Waterloo, NSW.

He integrated switches and fuses onto a switch board, engaging a porcelain manufacturer, Brown & Hordern, to provide the components. In those days household switchboards were marble boards mounted off the brickwork with porcelain switches imported from the UK. This involved a lot of tedious drilling so William designed a self contained unit.

The business was a success and during the 1930's he was able to purchase the property Takapuna in Vaucluse. The name came from a suburb of Auckland in New Zealand. It came on the market during the 1930's having been previously owned by a New Zealand steel merchant by the name of Rylance. William arrived home to announce the purchase. Annie had not been consulted. This property has now been subdivided.

William enjoyed boating around Sydney harbour. He purchased, for 300 pounds, a 30 foot yacht, Goora which is still afloat at Little Manly today(1990s). He also owned a 36 foot cruiser, Maigre. During WW2 Maigre was requisioned by the US Navy. It went to the Pacific, never to return and its final fate unknown

He was rather keen on motor vehicles. First an Indian motorcycle, then an American Oakland Tourer , This had a two tone paint finish with cabriolet leatherette (imitation leather) on the rear of the hood. Then a La Salle sedan, The La Salle was a secondary Cadillac such as the Bentley is to the Rolls Royce. Next followed a Vauxhall (a beast), a Studebaker President, a Studebaker Dictator and after WW2 two Rovers.

He always sent money back to his mother in England. In the 1930's he arranged for the entire family to visit England, and catch up with the family left behind. Also in this era Aunt Maud visited from England. During the 1940's the three sons joined their father in the electrical business. The factory was involved in the defense industries of WW2. William Jacob died of a heart attack at the Rose Bay Bowling Club in 1959. Some time in the 1960's the business was taken over by an English company.

Takapuna in New South Head Road,
Now demolished and replaced by two newer houses.

Elizabeth Pritchett
Sons Jack, Bill and Ron Pritchett became keen sailors. They were involved with both the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club at Point Piper and the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club at Newport. Jack Pritchett rose to be Commodore of the Royal Prince Alfred Club. Bill was affectionately called Captain Bligh by his colleges.

Ron progressed to the elimination trials for the 1956 Olympic Games crewing in the 5.5 class. He was been awarded life membership of the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club

Ron also crewed aboard the cutter Morna, owned and skippered by Sir Claude Plowman. Sir Claude skippered Morna to three successive 'first across the line' wins, in the Sydney-Hobart race, beginning in 1946. Regrettably Ron was not not aboard for the "Hobart" wins due to family commitments.
Ron Pritchett
Ron Pritchett


William's brother, Albert Pritchett, also came to Australia, on the ship with Annie Brown. He became an electrical contractor, lived in the Bankstown area and was in charge of the electrical systems on the Sydney Harbour Bridge project. His son Frank, worked for many years at the Pritchett factory as a toolmaker.

Eliza Pritchett with her husband Charlie MAY, emigrated also. Charlie's son operated a team of bricklayers and did the brickwork for both houses built by Ron Pritchett in St Ives.

Another brother, Herbert Pritchett, emigrated to Australia going on to Queensland, Experiencing financial difficulties in the great depression he returned to Sydney. William helped him purchase two acres of land at Milperra in Sydney’s south. He started poultry and pig farm; he also raised canaries. The property, near Bankstown Airport was sold to the aircraft manufacturer De’ Havilland for a factory. Herbert moved further west, and is remembered for buying a Hudson-Redicut pre fabricated home for his new property.

Perusal of old NSW electoral rolls shows the following Pritchetts
1936 Albert James P.
Herbert Isaac P.
Emma Lillian P.
Poultry Farmer
Home Duties
Lavender Ave. Bankstown,
Ashford Ave. Milperra,
Ashford Ave. Milperra
1941 Herbert Isaac P. Labourer  Roselind Rd. Milperra
1947 Herbert P.  Turner  Beaconsfield St. Revesby
1950 Herbert P. -as above- -as above-

Ron and Mary
Mary and Ron

Young Ron Pritchett

Ron as forward hand on the Olympic Class 5.5

Linclon Rd
House the Ron build, Lincoln Rd, St Ives

Recent (2014) Lincoln Rd, agent's photo
Recent agent's photo of the Lincoln Rd house

Relaxing on the lawn of the "Edwards" Yacht Club

Singalong, Jack Pritchett at the piano

Race Start
Start of the Sydney Hobart Race
Possibly 1990, possibly Ragamuffin in the lead
David Pritchett's boat in the spectator fleet marked

 Interesting Email extracts

Dear Peter and Jennifer,

     While searching for the surname of GRIMSLEY on the internet, I came across your PRITCHETT web site. My GRIMSLEY line also comes from Bicester in Oxfordshire, and I had seen the marriage for Ann GRIMSLEY to William PRITCHETT. Ann is either the daughter of Richard or George GRIMSLEY. Richard and George are, I believe, brothers of my ancestor Robert GRIMSLEY. So we are probably distant cousins.

      You may have already come across further information, but in case you haven't, Jacob PRITCHETT married Ann WAKELIN on 8 February 1846 at St Edburg, Bicester. He was buried on 9 December 1891 at St Edburg, aged 65.

     According to the marriage entry in the parish register, Ann's father was Benjamin WAKELIN, and one of the witnesses was a William WAKELIN. As neither Ann nor William signed their names, it is very likely that their surname should be WAKENELL. There is an Ann WAKENELL baptised in 1827 to parents Benjamin and Elizabeth WAKENELL.       Isaac PRITCHETT, the son of Jacob and Ann, was baptised on 8 March 1858 at St Edburg's

      I found the above information at the GSV. They have microfiche transcripts of the Bicester Parish Registers. Marriages go up to at least 1915, baptisms to 1925, and burials to 1960!

      I hope this is some help. If you want to know more about the GRIMSLEY's, just send me an email.

        Regards, Joan Wood

Hello There, 
This isn't exactly an email to fill in gaps in your family tree - but just to say hello and that we may have had ancestors who lived/worked together???   Perhaps I should explain -
I was looking for information on the Ferry Rainham Essex as I had just received a copy of my gt.grandfather's birth certificate (William Joseph Goodwin) which gave his birth as18th July 1890, The Ferry, Rainham, Essex and also gave The Ferry Rainham as the place of residence for his mother, Mary Jane Goodwin (nee Bonsor) and his father as Rober Goodwin occupation, sailor.  And up came your web pages as a possible match.  Anyhow as the dates for your William Jacob Pritchett and William and Mary King cover the dates from 1888 to 1891,  I felt I had to get in touch and say "Nice to meet you".

I came across whilst looking for something else as you do your web page on Pritchett King family.
I can not add anything to it but I found it interesting, I am looking in to my family tree here in the UK and found I can trace it back to the isle of white to around 1820 as the isle of white is not to far from Oxford I can't help but wonder if there is a connection there.
There is a Pritchett (or was,his family must still be) in Australia descended from my ancestors in the IOW I do not now where and just to add to the confusion I have found out he was christen Fred Pritchett but went by the Name of Jack Pritchett DOB 23 October 1910 south east London, great!
Any way great to read your web page. Have a good Christmas.
Paul Pritchett