Richardsons in Scotland and Ireland
The Richardsons in Scotland
is also a Scottish Lowland family name,
with a large number to be found in Dumfries near the English
border. English Richardsons had a family home at Knockshinnock
near Dumfries. They intermarried with the Scottish Stewarts and
had ties with the Buchanan and Ogilvie clans. At the time of the
English Civil War, Robert Richardson was one of the Dumfries city
leaders who, as Covenanters, formed an alliance with the English
Puritans. From these roots, a century later, came William
Richardson, a Presbyterian missionary, and his nephew,
William Richardson Davie, whose lives were to be shaped in America.
The Robert Burns
Richardson style in Dumfries was quite different from
the Quaker soberness of NE England.
Gabriel Richardson was a brewer in the town in the 1780’s who
well-regarded porter. His house on Nith
Place has stayed in the family until recently
He was a
good friend of the poet Robert Burns and Burns
once petitioned for a tax adjustment on his behalf.
brewers here, the Richardsons, one of whom,
Gabriel, I survey, pay annually in ‘twa pennies’ about thirty pounds;
complain, with great justice, of the unfair balance against them in
competition with the Bridgend, Annan and English traders.
As they are respectable characters, both as
citizens and men of business, I am sure they will meet with every
from the Magistracy of Dumfries.”
The tax was adjusted and Burns wrote a
mock-epitaph on the
episode which was inscribed onto a glass goblet:
And empty all his barrels:
He's blest - if as he brew'd, he drink —
In upright, virtuous morals.”
many Richardson tradesmen in the town at
that time, including Joseph Richardson and the
auctioneer John Richardson who sold the
Burns’s wife following her death in 1834.
son, John, was educated at Dumfries
Academy along with Burns’s eldest son.
Apparently, Burns once speculated: “I wonder which of them will
turned out to be John. He trained as
a doctor and joined the Royal Navy as a
ship’s surgeon. He made three journeys
of exploration to the Arctic Ocean and then published his studies on
animals he discovered there.
Afterwards, he became a mentor and advisor to younger
as Darwin and Huxley. Later, he was
appointed Surgeon General to the Royal Navy and was a friend to
Nightingale during the Crimean campaign.
Elsewhere. The Richardson name
was to be found in other Border counties and elsewhere in Scotland by
the late 1700's.
(according to parish records)
Other Border counties 25%
Richardsons in Edinburgh were initially most evident in the publishing
business. Archibald Richardson had moved from the Borthwick
valley to Edinburgh in the 1760's to become apprenticed as a
bookbinder. Around the same time, John Richardson had allied
himself with the scholarly Ruddiman family to publish The Caledonian Mercury, a
newspaper which catered to the well-read middle-class Scots of the day.
Richardson presence in Edinburgh
and Glasgow became stronger in the early 1800’s as James Richardson
built up his
business there. He was one of the
or six merchants who sourced supplies from producers in the British
and fixed shipping to bring the sugars to Scottish refiners. He was a trader through and through. “Tell me, “ he used to say, “ any general
of commerce that I have not bought or sold.”
The 1891 census listed 4,300 Richardsons living in Scotland.
Richardsons in Ireland
The Richardsons in Ireland were a Protestant import. They were to be found mainly in county Armagh. They arrived there in the early 1600’s and settled in Loughgall, apparently from Worcestershire. A local grandee was Edward Richardson who was an MP between 1655 and 1696 and built Richhill castle, a Dutch-style manor house just outside Armagh city.
Richardsons adapted well to the Irish environment.
John Richardson, ordained as the rector of Armagh in
1693, was involved in a project for the printing and
distribution of a Gaelic translation of the Bible.
adapted less well and were involved in the sectarian
strife. Many emigrated to America. Early
emigrants included Quakers such as
John Richardson who set sail for Pennsylvania in 1684.
Most Protestants, however, stayed, and they responded
to the rallying call of the Orange order.
As such, these Richardsons would have to deal
with the ongoing problem of
sectarian violence in the following years.
The Quakers and the Linen Industry.
The linen industry had been started by Huguenot immigrants in the Lagan
valley in the eighteenth century. It became a major industry in
the nineteenth. Quaker families were prominent. Early
Quaker linen families included the Nicholsons, Christys, and
Greers. As industrialization of the linen industry progressed,
Quaker families such as the Richardsons and the Bells developed large
spinning and weaving factories in the area.
Richardson was a linen merchant in Lisburn in the early 1800's who,
with a colleague, pioneered the techniques for keeping a bleach-green
going throughout the year. His son, James Nicholson Richardson,
built up the firm of JN Richardson Sons and Owden to a workforce of
7,000, plants in Armagh, Antrim, and Down, and offices in
Belfast and London. As the nineteenth century proceeded, these
Richardsons became one of the wealthiest families in Northern Ireland.
They, like other Quaker families, are buried in the Friends' modest graveyard in Moyallon, County Down, but with some special treatment:
"Although all Quakers are considered equal in the eyes of God, the Richardsons had their own private burial plot, hedged off from the main burial ground; thus prompting the saying that although all Quakers are equal, some are more equal than others!"
the son John Grubb Richardson conceived
the idea of a model village when he and his family bought the Bessbrook
mill near Newry. For a working population
of 4,000, they built schools, a butcher’s shop, a dairy, a savings
bank, and a
number of churches. They refused,
however, any building permission for pubs or to sell alcohol. To this day there are still no licensed
buildings in Bessbrook and it is probably the only dry town or village
John Richardson died in 1891, after having turned down a baronetcy for his charitable works. He said he had devoted his life to his childhood ambition to "caring for the welfare of the people around him."