Richardson Origins

The four generally accepted origins of surnames are:

- as family patronyms (i.e. names deriving from first names)
- as nicknames
- as names describing a location (where one lived)
- and as occupations or trade names.

The Scandinavian-type affix “son” provided one early form of family patronym, particularly in the north of England.  Alternatively, the suffix “s” was used, the “s” denoting the genitive or “of.”

Richard (meaning powerful and brave) was a favorite amongst the Normans and from this source came Richards and Richardson.   However, these names do seem to have developed separately in different parts of the country.  The Richards name was and is mainly to be found in the west and southwest; Richardson, by contrast, in the northeast and in Scotland.

Early variants of the Richardson name included Richerson, Richarson, Richeson, and Ritcherson.  Scribes recorded the name phonetically, as it sounded.  Hence, it wasn't unlikely that a person would be born with one spelling, married under another, and buried under another.

Locational Origins

There are no places anywhere in Britain with the name Richardson, apart from an archaeological site in Wiltshire which was presumably named for someone with the surname Richardson.

A number of records suggest that the name Richardson originated in the county of Cheshire.  A younger son of a Norman family there, John, was said to have taken the paternal name of Richardson when he moved across the Pennines to Durham sometime around 1400.  A Nicholas Richardson, possibly a descendant, started a family wool business in Yorkshire in 1484 (according to the earliest Bierley deed records)