Captain Thomas Pritchard (1804-1883)

From Chapter 1 of our Butchart Gardens History:

“Thomas Pritchard was a Welsh sea captain who had retired in Victoria in 1862 and vowed to never leave the city again. Pritchard kept his vow. Until his death in 1883, Thomas Pritchard remained in Victoria, dividing his time between his house on Meares Street, his orchards along Fort Street, east of Cook St., and his local real estate investments and other business ventures.

In 1866, Bishop George Hills sold the Tod Inlet land on which Butchart Gardens now stands to Captain Thomas Pritchard, who kept the Tod Inlet land until 1869, when he sold his Tod Inlet property to John Greig.”

Here is Thomas Pritchard’s obituary:

“The Death Of Another Pioneer

We regret to announce the death of another of the pioneers of our province, Capt. Thomas Pritchard, who breathed his last at 3 o’clock on Wednesday morning. Capt. Pritchard was born in Wales, in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, in 1804. About 58 years ago he settled at Fort Wayne, Indiana,which he left at the time of the cholera, leaving behind him his house, furniture, and everything belonging to him. He also visited, at one time or other, New York, Chicago, and other cities, then in their infancy. In 1840 he crossed the Rockies, as he had previously clone tho Alleghanies, and came to Oregon when it was little more than a forest. There was no Portland in those days, and he was probably the only man who came with any money. He, however, started as a merchant and shipowner at Portland, and acquired much property. Three of his vessels were on Columbia river bar one after another. Whilst in Illinois he was in the militia during the Black Hawk Indian war, and lent considerable money to the government, which was never wholly repaid, but on which he continued to receive small sums until his death. He was also engaged in carrying large sums of money for the government and knew Tecumseth, the famous Indian chief, well.

While engaged in business in Portland he was joined by his brother-in-law, Mr. Watkins. He came to Victoria first in 1858, and afterwards in 1862, during the Cariboo excitement. The site of Victoria was then white with the tents of miners.

The place took Capt. Pritchard’s fancy, and though he had been a great traveller as a young man yet he seems at once to have bought his late handsome residence and settled down here for the rest of his life, for one of his favorite axioms was, “settle down in a new country and grow with it.” He disposed of his real estate at Portland at low figures, living long enough to see it increase in value to several millions of dollars. He was of the company who, with Capt. Irving, Gov. Douglas, Gov. Moody, and others, put the steamers on the Fraser river in 1859. Since the stirring times of 1862 Capt. Pritchard has led the life of a retired and respected citizen, and as he himself remarked, he had “seen the wilderness blossom.” He laid the foundations of several fortunes while in Portland, and in his time he planted no less than five orchards and eaten of the fruit of them all, a fact which few men can boast of. He is stated never to have left this city since he entered it, at lest 21 years ago, and being a man of very regular habits was scarcely ever known to spend an evening abroad. He was subject to a chronic complaint , from which he suffered an attack a year ago, when the Governor-General was here, hut he managed to get out and pay a visit to the Agricultural Exhibition, though in a very weak state, and had the pleasure of shaking hands with the Princess Louise. His past illness commenced about a month ago, and though he suffered a great deal he passed away very easily at the last. He is supported to have left about $250,000. The deceased was a widower, his wife having died several years ago, and though he had no children he leaves many sorrowing relatives. The body will be buried in the old cemetery on Saturday, beneath the handsome monument which Capt. Pritchard erected to the memory of his wife several years ago.”
(Source: Colonist, 1 November 1883, page 3)

Captain Thomas Pritchard is buried in Pioneer Square in downtown Victoria.

Grave of Captain Thomas Pritchard, Pioneer Square, Victoria, B.C. (photo by Mark Anderson)
Grave of Captain Thomas Pritchard, Pioneer Square, Victoria, B.C. (photo by Mark Anderson)

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