Richardsons in England
Whether the Cheshire/Yorkshire origins are true or not, Richardson is very much a name of the northeast. The table below shows the main counties where the name was to be found in 1891.
Leading English Counties with the
surnames were special to Yorkshire until
late in the 14th century. Most
names were local, occupational, or nicknames.
The suffix “son” gradually became more common, but was often
a non-hereditary way, Thus in 1409 the
son of Richard de Shagh was Thomas Richardson.
The Wool Trade. The
Richardsons had settled in the late fifteenth century at Bierley in the
of Yorkshire’s wool trade. They were
active in this business and their estates extended a third of the way
Bradford, then only a small market town, and included most of North
beyond towards Wibsey and Calverley.
The family over the years intermarried with other prominent
the area such as the Currers, Ferrands, Hopkinsons, Midgleys, and
Saviles. Overall, they were middle class
rather than aristocracy (none of them for instance ever became peers of
We find Richardsons in prominent positions in Hull and Ripon in the 17th century. Richardsons can also be traced to the small village of Bubwith near Howden in the East Ridings from Elizabethan times. They were still to be found there as farmers and tradesmen in the 19th century
following were some of the notable Yorkshire Richardsons from these
roots at this time.
Prominent Richardsons from Yorkshire
First Name Born Birth Place Commentary
Richard 1604 Bierley a wool merchant
Richard 1663 Bierley a keen botanist
John 1666 Kirbymoorside a Quaker preacher
Dorothy 1748 Thornton-in-Craven she kept an illustrated journal
of her travels around England
Dissent and the Quaker Emergence.
Quaker faith, which was to have such a strong
hold on the Richardsons in the succeeding years, began with the
preachings of George Fox in north Yorkshire in the 1650's.
These Quakers encountered persecution after
1660. Many took part in the northern uprisings, of which Dr.
Edward Richardson, the Anabaptist dean of Ripon who had been deprived
of his living, was apparently one of the instigators.
did come in 1689. The
first Quaker meetinghouse in Yorkshire was built a year
later, at Kirbymoorside. John
Richardson, who lived at Hutton-le-Hole nearby, became apprenticed to a
Friend there after having been
his stepfather. He later achieved renown
as a charismatic
preacher, travelling to America and writing an autobiography at
the end of a long and active
a larger Quaker community at Whitby along the coast. They were
tolerated, but often seen as kill-joys:
Whitby, the refusal of Quakers to join in public rejoicings by
illuminating their windows was traditionally the occasion for much
Richardsons, farmers and tanners of hides at Boghall nearby, were part
of this community. William Richardson had become a Quaker in the
1680's. He later moved to Ayton in Cleveland.
Richardson, became a prominent London financier and, on his
retirement, founded a Quaker school in the village (which continued
until 1997). Another Richardson from these roots, John
Richardson, moved in the 1760's further north to Newcastle.
More Recent History.
Richardsons did continue to prosper in Yorkshire's traditional
early 1800's, Robert Richardson was a wealthy landowner in the weaving
town of Barnsley, inhabiting a large stone mansion on Church
Street. But the story that has been handed down about him
does not do him much credit. When hiis daughter Frances
ran away to marry an Irish soldier, he vowed to disinherit her.
And he carried out on his threat. On his death in 1836, she
received nothing of his £60,000 estate. Nevertheless there was a happy
outcome. The three recipients of the will decided that the
settlement had been unfair and conveyed the sum to her.
another Richardson, Henry Richardson, ran a linen works in Barnsley and
was the town's largest employer. He built a folly, Hartcliffe
Tower (which still stands), at Penistone nearby and was the first mayor
of the borough.
Prominent 20th century Richardsons from Yorkshire have been the physicist Owen Richardson (from Dewsbury) and the stage and film director Tony Richardson (from Shipley),
Richardsons in Durham
were to be found in Sedgefield in south Durham since
Elizabethan times. The marriage
records there show some
Christian names - Gulielmus, Willimus, Lancelot, Johes, and Riccus –
handed down from father to son over the seventeenth century. The Richardsons at Tudhoe near Spennymoor
had more conventional names. The
village was a Catholic holdout in the reign of Elizabeth.
explain the cautionary words of
Henry Richardson for his wife Isabel in his will of 1579: “be in the
our son Robert accordingly as she and I have been."
also Richardsons in Durham in Elizabethan times. John Richardson
was a local merchant in the 1650's who used his own coins as currency
there. A century later, his namesake dealt in books and
became a mayor of the town.
was a larger Richardson cluster in and around Newcastle.
They were to be found at Shotley Bridge,
possibly from an early date. The
Richardsons were local gentry here. In
the nineteenth century, Jonathan Richardson opened a spa
on his estate
included Swiss-type chalets and a small zoo with tropical birds and
Shields near Newcastle was a point of early emigration to America,
including Francis and John Richardson in the 1680's. The
descendants of Francis Richardson, a Quaker, settled in Philadelphia,
those of John Richardson in Virginia and later in South Carolina.
More Richardsons were to be found in Newcastle itself as the city grew. The table following gives a list of prominent Richardsons in that city from the eighteenth century onwards.
Prominent Richardsons in the Newcastle Area
First Name Born Birth Place Commentary
George 1773 North Shields a Quaker missionary
Thomas Miles 1784 Newcastle a painter of local scenes
John Wigham 1837 Newcastle a Quaker shipbuilder
Elizabeth 1838 Westgate a Quaker diarist
Hugh 1864 Newcastle a Quaker peace advocate
Lewis Fry 1881 Newcastle a Quaker who studied the cause of war
More Quakers. The above selection may be unrepresentative. But the close-knit nature of the Quaker community there is quite remarkable, particularly during the 19th century. These Richardsons started off as tanners in the town and then spread into other activities. Most sought to lead their lives according to their Quaker beliefs. The shipbuilder John Wigham Richardson, for instance, founded a local Workers’ Benevolent Trust, the forerunner to today's trade unions, at his yard in the 1890's.
the most remarkable of these Quakers was
Lewis Fry Richardson. He applied at
Meteorological Office his mathematical mind to the dynamics
weather patterns and the issue of making weather forecasts. In a sense he was ahead of his time; but the
time taken to solve his equations in a pre-computer age was just too
long. Even so, the principles which
established can be said to have laid the foundations for present-day
Quaker,he was a pacifist and resigned from
the Met Office when it became part of the Air Ministry in 1920. He devoted the rest of his life to a
mathematical investigation into the causes of war.
for Richardson was the inevitable consequence of the
tendency of the mental machine to run almost, but not quite, by
itself. So he was a bad listener, distracted by his thoughts, and
a bad driver, seeing his dream instead of the traffic. The same
tendency explains why he appeared sometimes abrupt in manner, otherwise
inexplicable in one of his character."
Richardson, although born in the West Country, came from these
Newcastle Quaker Richardson roots as well. He was one of the
great English stage actors of the 20th century.
The Richardson name appeared in Cheshire as a well-known family of clockmakers, starting with Richard Richardson at Aston near Great Budworth in the 1730’s.