Richardsons in America and Elsewhere
Richardsons emigrated as the world opened up, first to America and then to Canada and Australia principally. This page covers their progress in these new lands..
Many of the early English emigrants to America were Puritans,
religious and political escape from the tensions of the time. Included
in that number were three brothers, Ezekiel, Samuel, and Thomas
Richardson, from Hertfordshire. They joined Winthrop's fleet on
the Arbella for
New England. The eldest, Ezekiel Richardson, arrived in
1636, settling in Charlestown, and his two brothers followed six years
later. Their descendants can be traced to this day and include,
via Thomas, Bill
Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico.
The Quaker Influx. A
larger number of Richardsons probably came to America in the early days
as Quakers. When William Penn founded Pennsylvania in 1681, it
became a refuge for Quakers. And it is remarkable how many of
these Quaker Richardsons had personal ties with William Penn.
Quaker Richardsons in Pennsylvania
William. England 1655
Francis (via New York) Newcastle 1681
John Co. Armagh 1684
Samuel London 1687
John Yorkshire 1700
William Richardson had arrived on the Constant Friendship from England in
1655. He was a close friend of William Penn, as evidenced by the
marker that can be found near his home in Arundel county, Maryland.
Francis Richardson was granted one of the first tracts of land in
Pennsylvania by William Penn. His widow married Edward Shippen, a
wealthy Quaker who later became mayor of Philadelphia. And his
son Francis, with his shop on Front Street, became a celebrated
silversmith in the town. This craft was handed down through two
Samuel Richardson was appointed by Penn as the first alderman of Philadelphia. He played his part tin the building of the town, from which he gained much wealth.
The last-named John didn't stay. He was an itinerant preacher, publishing an autobiography at the end of a long and active life.
half of his book is devoted to
his trip to America from 1700 to 1703, during the course of which he
with William Penn, was present at a council with Indians, disputed with
Keith, met Thomas Story on Long Island, and preached in Maryland before
governor and his wife, Lord and Lady Baltimore."
travelled the Eastern Seaboard and was evidently a charismatic
preacher, as the Nantucketers in New England
1701, William Penn helped establish a Quaker community in Chester
County, Pennsylvania. Naturally Richardson was one of its
founding families. A little later on, Joseph Richardson set up a
outside Philadelphia in Langhorne, Bucks County. Quaker
neighbors thought that the house that he built, in 1738, was too
grand. But it stayed with his family for almost two hundred years
and still stands today. Samuel Richardson, who was born there,
lived onto 1951.
Other Arrivals. America provided economic opportunity, as well as religious freedom. This brought other Richardson immigrants, many from Scotland.
Robert Richardson had arrived from Scotland in 1666. He
started a 2,000 acre plantation at Mount Ephraim in Maryland.
Much of this land stayed with his descendants until the late 19th
William Richardson, from Quaker roots, owned a large
plantation at Gilpin
Point in the late 1700's. In the days
he had a part interest in a sloop, The
Omega, which carried cargoes of corn to the West Indies.
On return trips quantities of coral stone were brought as
these stones his slaves built a wall surrounding his Gilpin
were a number of Richardsons in Virginia as well by the first half of
the 18th century. Some stayed. Robert Richardson, a
recent Nobel prize winner, is a descendant of one of these
families. Other moved on, such as Isham Richardson to
Kentucky, Jonathan Richardson to
Tennessee, Richard Richardson to South Carolina, and Daniel Richardson
William Richardson was an early
schoolmaster in Maysville, Kentucky. His academy, built in 1829,
stood until recently. The descendants of Shadrach and Betsy
Richardson from Virginia were pioneers in Oregon and Utah.
African Americans. African Americans
bearing the name Richardson, many of them "free mulattos," can be found
in Virginia and North Carolina from the mid-18th century.
Joe," who took the name Richardson, was George Washington's
Philadelphia. He and his family were among the 124
enlaved African Americans owned by Washington who were freed after his
were fortunate. So too was James Richardson who came to Texas
from Philadelphia in 1832 and made a living by serving oysters and
refreshments to the travellers between Velasco and San Luis.
slavery would hold onto other African Americans for many years to
come. Charlie Richardson, an ex-slave from Warrensburg Missouri,
had some very blunt comments about the institution:
it 'putting them on the stump.' But the 'stump' was neither a
block or a stump, it was a big wooden box. We always knew when
they were going to sell because they would let them lay around and do
nothing. Fattening them up for market."
ran away. Susan Richardson was
lucky. She was a runaway
slave from southern Illinois who secured her freedom in 1843.
"Aunt Sukey," as she was known, became involved in the Galesburg
underground railroad for other
runaways. Her story is narrated in the book Escape Betwixt Two Suns.
the most remarkable 19th century African American must be William
H. Richardson. The son of a slave from Baltimore, he patented
and developed the first baby carriage in America. How generations
of mothers should be thankful to him!
Heading South, We find a sizeable Richardson presence in North and South Carolina during the 18th and 19th centuries, and in Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.
Richardsons can be traced to Stokes, Randolph, and Moore
Counties in North Carolina from the 1750's onward.
Richardson had come to Bladen County from New England
in the 1770's He built his plantation home, Harmony Hall, on the
of the Cape Fear river. This house still stands. The
Cornwallis had occupied the house during the War of Independence.
Local legend has it that James's wife, Elizabeth, was instrumental in
Cornwallis's defeat at Yorkville by secretly passing on his war plans
to the American forces.
Later, John G. Richardson
from this area headed south to the Gulf Coast where he purchased
the Bayside sugar plantation in New Iberia, Louisiana in 1829. He
some accounts a humane slaveowner. One slave (Leah) stayed with
his family for over eighty years until her death in 1877.
Richard Richardson had arrived in South Carolina from Virginia in colonial times. He owned a plantation in Clarendon County where he entertained local society. One member of the Richardson family, who played by ear, came up with a melody which became a favorite. This waltz, known as "the Richardson waltz," was handed down from generation to generation by ear until 1985 when an arrangement was created by Mary Richardson Briggs. These Richardsons had an eventful Revolutionary War. In the 19th century, two Richardsons from this family, father and son, became Governors of South Carolina ante and post bellum.
Richardson family owned a plantation in Hampton county,
Georgia at the time of the Civil War. Hattie Richardson was a
at that time. When interviewed some eighty years later, she
could recall the day her brothers left to join the Confederate Army and
the day Sherman's army arrived and plundered their house from attic to
And To Texas. The state of Texas had, by the end of the 19th century, the largest number of Richardsons in the United States.
Many plantation owners had fled there, escaping Unionist
retribution in the South. These included:
- Charles Bruce Richardson
and his family who got out of Vicksburg, Louisiana in 1863 (burning his
crops before he left)
- and Captain Edmund Richardson and his family who departed Bladen County, North Carolina in the winter of 1865.
A number of these Richardsons settled in East Texas, in and around
Henderson County. Madison Richardson and his family had arrived
by wagon train from South Carolina in the late 1850's. Charles
Bruce Richardson bought a farm there and became in later life a noted
horticulturist. Farming was to be the principal occupation of the
area until the 1930's when the East Texas oilfields started
gushing. Oil made Sid Richardson from
these parts his fortune.
arrival in Texas, in 1837, had been Willard Richardson. He
the Southern cause and later guided his local newspaper, the Galveston News, to a position of
prominence in Texas during and after the Civil War. He was a town
booster as well, building an opera house next to his newspaper
offices. After his death, the Richardson name continued in the
town. Eight Richardsons perished in the great storm of
1900. Willard's grandson was a long-time professor of obstetrics
at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. And
numerous Richardsons are on the faculty today.
The town of Richardson in Texas was named, according to the practice
of the time, after the railroad
contractor E.H. Richardson who built the line from Dallas to Denison.
earliest Richardson settlers
in Canada were Scots active in the fur trade.
Their sympathies were British rather than American during the
Independence and they moved to Canada:
- John Richardson, from these Scots fur trading roots, became
of the early civic leaders in Montreal. After the War of 1812,
- another John Richardson began a fiction-writing career with novels about the British and French societies in Canada at that time.
best-known Richardson name in Canada is that of James Richardson &
whose large offices dominate the Winnipeg skyline.
This grain business was started in Ontario by the company
founder, James Richardson, in 1857.
His son was an aviation pioneer whose company was later
into Air Canada.
Winnipeg international airport is named after him.
20th century Richardsons are commemorated in Canada:.
Jessie Richardson the actress, after whom the Canadian theater awards
second is Evelyn Richardson, whose best-seller We Kept a Light described their
family's isolated life as lighthouse keepers off Nova Scotia. Her
name graces a literary award.
- and the thrd is Jack Richardson, the record producer, now honored by the Jack Richardson music awards.
Australia, it must be said, were convicts. There
five Richardson convicts, all sentenced in London, on the initial
convoy to Australia in 1787. Others
followed and their lives went mainly unrecorded.
tor life in 1822, is remembered as one of the pioneer horticulturists
Australia. His background as a gardener
exposure to those who wanted to explore the fauna of this new and
continent. As a result, he accompanied
a number of botanical expeditions in the 1820’s and 1830’s and was able
secure his conditional release as a prisoner in 1837.
He lived on for another forty five years.
Free Settlers. Many more Richardsons came as free settlers in Australia’s period of “long boom” in the second half of the nineteenth century. One successful immigrant was Robert Richardson who had arrived from Liverpool in 1850. He built up a business in Sydney based on wool and real estate. His obituarist described him as follows:
“As well as having a keen eye for wool and real estate, Richardson was a natural salesman. He was also a strict Presbyterian who set great store on the strength and loyalty of his family. Within the firm he was punctilious and demanding, but fair in his treatment of both customers and employees.”
Richardson had arrived from Dublin during the Victorian goldrush in the
late 1850's. He was successful for a time but then
developed a long degenarative illness which saw him committed to a
lunatic asylum. He might not have been remembered had he not had
a daughter Edith who, writing under the pen-name Henry Handel
Richardson, characterized him in one of her novels. Another
of her novels, The Fortunes,
is an archetypal story of the country, written about the great upsurge
of nineteenth century capitalism that was fuelled by the gold
An interesting memento of these times is the brooch worn by Fanny Richardson, the daughter of a Scots physician in Australia, that was re-discovered a hundred years later.