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.