Silver pocketwatch returned to family 130 years later

Diver Rich Hughes found an engraved silver pocket watch off the coast of Pembrokeshire. It was engraved with its owner’s a/s/l and Hughes took it upon himself to find out more about one Richard Prichard, 1866, Abersoch, North Wales.

He discovered that Prichard was the captain of the merchant vessel Barbara. He died on the trip and was buried at sea. His replacement proved less than competent and went down with the ship on the Pembrokeshire coast.

The watch would have been on its way back to the captain’s family. But the inexperienced new master, whose name is recorded only as Captain Jones, mistook the Bristol Channel for St George’s Channel heading towards Liverpool.

The vessel was hit by a storm and sank off the village of Freshwater West in November 1881. All the crew were rescued by lifeboat apart from Captain Jones who went down with his ship.

That means the watch was underwater for 128 years. The movement is no longer moving, of course, but the watch itself still looks great.

So Rich Hughes couldn’t find anything more about Richard Prichard, so he enlisted amateur historian David Roberts to trace the family tree.

Roberts succeeded. He found Captain Prichard’s cousin’s grandson, Owen Cowell. He’s a retired dentist and as the closest living relative, he’s getting the watch.

He won’t keep it all to himself though, ’cause he’s cool. It will go on display at a local museum at the end of the month.

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6 Comments »

Comment by Tamahome Jenkins
2009-08-19 13:05:50

I love to hear stories like this. How often would someone actually go out of their way to return something so valuable? Statute of limitations on lost and found stuff be damned!

Comment by livius drusus
2009-08-20 10:13:35

He really went the extra mile, too, enlisting other researchers and everything. Now everyone benefits because we get to hear the full story, his descendant gets to find out how cool his great-great-grandcousin was, and the local museum gets a great new exhibit and lots of attention. :love:

 
 
Comment by Hans
2009-08-20 09:43:38

Had he not returned th watch this story would not have made this blog, eh?

Comment by livius drusus
2009-08-20 10:14:24

As long as it made the press, sure. My favorite part was the research, not so much its end-result.

 
 
Comment by Mr Lemming
2009-08-28 15:23:48

I also enjoy stories of this nature!

Hans – It would’ve made the blog anyhow, but if he hadn’t returned the watch we (the readers, and maybe Livius, depending how badly he acted) would’ve considered the man a bastard rather than commending him. Lolz and information would be had regardless. :giggle:

Comment by livius drusus
2009-08-28 15:57:19

Amen to that. :lol:

 
 
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