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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Prichard, Frederick John (1851–1920)

by R. A. Ferrall

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Frederick John Prichard (1851-1920), journalist, was born on 14 August 1851 at Whitchurch, Monmouthshire, Wales, son of Charles Prichard, grocer, and his wife Agnes Westwood, née Pollard. He was one of a family of twelve who arrived in Victoria with their parents in 1852. Educated at Ararat, where the Prichards settled, he took various local commercial jobs as a youth. In the 1870s he moved to Warracknabeal where he worked in a grain establishment and became a correspondent for the Ararat Advertiser and the Wimmera Star. He was employed as a carrier's agent at Horsham when on 31 July 1879 at Geelong he married Anne Bruce Colquhoun with Presbyterian forms.

Perhaps as an aid to accumulating the 'general knowledge' which is the journalist's tool of trade, Prichard became an avid traveller, visiting each of the Australian colonies. In 1884 in Hobart he took a full-time appointment as parliamentary reporter for the Launceston Daily Telegraph of which his journalist brother, Thomas Henry (1845-1907), father of writer Katharine Susannah Prichard, was briefly editor in 1887. The job was time-consuming and tedious, but secured him recognition in the profession. In 1889 he was given charge of the Launceston office of the Mercury and in 1893 became editor of the Launceston Examiner, a position he held for twenty-seven years.

As a young man Prichard had been an ardent protectionist, but as editor he 'soon renounced that heresy' and espoused free trade. His travels had persuaded him of the value of Federation and he became one of its strongest advocates in Tasmania. Although he remained a tolerant and fairly conservative journalist, his editorials were crisp and forceful in years when over-long leaders were fashionable in provincial journalism. Contemporaries recorded him as one tireless for facts (he tramped Tasmania's wilderness to assess the worth of mooted projects), yet always approachable, particularly by politicians, who valued his judgement. During 1914-18 he directed and wrote a popular column 'Union Jack'. As a diversion, he wrote short stories on life in the pastoral areas of New South Wales and the Victorian Mallee.

The Anglican Church retained Prichard's lifelong interest; he was secretary and treasurer of St Oswald's, Trevallyn. A Freemason, he was past master of the Lodge of Hope and past grand warden of the Grand Lodge of Tasmania. His main hobby was horticulture.

Prichard died of heart seizure on 19 May 1920 while holidaying at Lakemba, New South Wales, and was buried in Carr Villa cemetery, Launceston, after a Masonic funeral, on 30 May. His wife, son and two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Cyclopedia of Tasmania, (Hob, 1900, 1931)
  • Examiner (Launceston), 20-26 May 1920
  • private information.

Citation details

R. A. Ferrall, 'Prichard, Frederick John (1851–1920)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 2 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

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