Michael Prichard was born before the Second world war and lived through the bombing and destruction of much of London. When he entered university in 1945, King’s College London had reoccupied its old quarters in the badly-damaged Somerset House, and along with LSE and UCL had pooled teaching resources to overcome staff shortages and accommodation damage. This inadvertently gave Michael a rich pool of mentors upon which to found his career, and who served him well in later years. He entered Queens’ College Cambridge in 1948 and experienced the unique post-war phenomena of the “returning warriors”, which continued, along with the “weekenders”, when he became a fellow at Gonville & Caius in 1950. Here he has remained, and is still a Fellow, seventy years later.
His legacy is a fund of memories of a life-long journey through changing landscapes of legal research, teaching, and college and faculty administration. I first interviewed Michael for the Eminent Scholars Archive in 2012, where his biography and general academic reminiscences are set forth. I now revisit aspects of these, following a conversation I had with David Yale for ESA in November 2019. David was Michael’s career-long colleague, and his interview shone new light on their decades of joint endeavour unravelling the development of maritime law in the British Isles. Shortly after David’s reminder of the magnitude of their project, an encounter with Professor David Ibbetson, and most-recently a meeting with Michael, now in his 93rd year, have spurred me to summarise particular aspects of Michael’s varied research projects. In the process, I shall emphasise the overall sense of adventure, and enjoyment - in short “fun”, with which he explored the history and jurisdictional intricacies of the Admiralty Court (jointly with David Yale), presented his enlightened insights into the evolution of aspects of tort law, and explained his research of the few esoteric conundrums in which a retiree was able to indulge.
Michael Prichard (Squire Law Library)