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Family spelling variants includes Pritchard, Prichard, Richardson, Ricarde, Richardes, Ritchard, Richards
RICHARD Family History
This surname is one of the patronymic forms of the male personal name Richard, which is Germanic in origin and means 'powerful ruler'. The Old German name 'Ric(h)ard' is composed of the elements 'ric' (power) and 'hard' (hardy, brave, strong).
Richard had become popular as a personal name in Britain after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and generally increased in popularity after this as it was the name of several Kings of England.
There are several spelling variations of this surname, including Richards, Ritchard, Richardson, Richardes, Ric(e)ards and Ricarde, which all mean 'son of Richard'.
Richards is the most common form in the western half of England below the county of Nottinghamshire, in particular in Cornwall, and is very common in Wales. Historically, Richardson was more commonly seen in the north of England and southern Scotland, with the greatest numbers recorded in Cumberland, Westmoreland, Durham, Northumberland, and the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire. Hereditary surnames such as Richard and Richards generally had come into being in England by 1400.
In Scotland, some of the earliest examples of the name include Thome filius Ricardi who was granted a charter of the barony of Symundestone in the sheriffdom of Lanark by Robert I, and Laurence filius Ricerdi who was a tenant of the earl of Douglas in Louchurde in 1376.
Other variations of this surname derive from the diminutive form of the personal name Richard and include Dixon, Dickson, Dicks, Dickens, and Dickenson.
In Wales, both the Richard and the Richards forms were not used as fixed, hereditary surnames until the 16th century. Up until that time the Welsh forms 'ap Richard' and 'ap Risiart', meaning 'son of Richard' would have been used, and as such they would only have applied to males within a single generation of a family. Females (the daughters of a man named Richard) would have been known, instead, as 'ferch Richard' or 'verch Risiart' (literally 'daughter of Richard').
Hereditary surnames such as this only gradually became evident in Wales between the 16th and 19th centuries, sometimes as late as the mid-19th century in north west Wales, and the surname would therefore refer back to an ancestor who lived during that particular period.
Although the Richard and Richards forms of the surname were seen throughout Wales by the 19th century, some families, in particular in north-west Wales, instead used the Welsh patronymic Prichard or Pritchard variant (contracted from 'ap Richard').
- Edward Richard (1714–1777), Welsh schoolmaster, scholar and poet. Born in Ystradmeurig, Cardiganshire, he founded a free grammar school in his native village which developed a great reputation for classical learning, becoming one of the most famous in Wales during the latter half of the 18th century. It continued to flourish until the establishment in 1827 of St. David's College at Lampeter.
- Wendy Richard (1943–2009), English actress, most notable for her TV roles as Miss Shirley Brahms in the sitcom Are You Being Served?, and as Pauline Fowler in the BBC's long-running saop opera, Eastenders.
- Samuel Richardson (1689— 1761), novelist and printer born in Mackworth, Derbyshire. Best known for his his three novels, Pamela, Clarissa and The History of Sir Charles Grandison.
- Viv Richards (b. 1952), now retired Antiguan cricketer who played for the West Indies and is regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1900, vol. 48
Dictionary of Welsh Biography, National Library of Wales, https://biography.wales/
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain (1890) by Henry Brougham Guppy
The Surnames of Scotland (1946) by George Fraser Black (1866-1948)
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