RICHARDSON from Dumfriesshire, Scotland

Early descendants of this line had strong connections with Dumfries town, including several Burgesses.  It is notable for Sir John Richardson.

Rosebank, near Dumfries

The earliest RICHARDSONs recorded were from Cleughfoot, Kirkpatrick Juxta.  John RICHARDSON(1) had some eight children, including two notable sons Archibald and Gabriel.  Both settled in Dumfries town, Archibald (ca. 1767-1846) being a wine merchant and Gabriel (1759-1820) a brewer.  Gabriel married Anne MUNDELL, a descendent of the Maundells or Maundevilles of Torthorwald and Tinwald, Dumfries, who are thought once to have been border raiders. Anne’s mother owned Rosebank, outside Dumfries, and Anne was borne there.  The Richardsons were friendly with the poet Robert BURNS who was excise man in Dumfries, and it was for Gabriel that Burns inscribed a whisky tumbler with a poem believed to have run:

Here Brewer Gabriel’s fire’s extinct,
And empty all his barrels;
He’s blest — if as he brew’d he drink —
In upright virtuous morals.

The tumbler stayed in the Richardson family until at least 1923, when it was smashed in a removal.  For my own 60th birthday, my son Richard had a replica commissioned.  Gabriel lies buried in St. Michael’s Church Yard, Dumfries, near to his friend’s mausoleum, his grave part of the modern Burns trail.


Gabriel’s eldest son John and Burn’s eldest son Robert were of the same age and went to school together.  On the first day they were escorted by their fathers and Burns remarked to Gabriel that he wondered which of the would become the greater man.  John (later Sir John) became a naval surgeon and then surgeon and natural historian to the arctic expeditions of Sir John Franklin, to whom he was related by marriage.

Several species, especially of fish, are named after Sir John.  He was a mentor to Charles Darwin, corresponded with Florence Nightingale on nursing, and in retirement in Grasmere was a neighbour and friend of the poet Wordsworth.

In their old age, two of Sir John’s children wrote memoirs of their childhood.  These are available as facsimiles: Memoir of Beatrice A Richardson and Memoir of John B Richardson.

A nephew of Sir John, Benjamin Richardson emigrated to Canada, giving rise to descendants in New Brunswick and elsewhere.

The history of this line has been researched several times by earlier members of the family. There are collections of letters in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge and elsewhere, and several biographies, viz.

  • Sir John Richardson, by Rev. John McIlraith, pub. Longmans, Green & Co, London, 1868.
  •  Sir John Richardson, by Robert E Johnson, pub. Taylor & Francis Ltd, London, 1976.
  • Arctic Ordeal, ed. by C Stuart Houstan, pub. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Canada, and Alan Sutton Publishing, Gloucester, England, 1984.
  • Richardson, Sir John, by R E Johnson in Dictionary of Canadian Biography

The Franklin and Richardson lines have maintained connections to this day.  An overview chart of the ALINGTON BOOTH FRANKLIN REYNOLDS RICHARDSON lines is available as a .pdf diagram here.

Sir John RICHARDSON’s son John Booth RICHARDSON was a painter and carver.  For a biography see  Art and Artillery: Major-General John Booth Richardson (1838-1923) by Richards Voss in Soldiers of the Queen: Journal of the Victorian military Society, 152, pp3-13, March 2013.

A younger son Willingham Franklin RICHARDSON became a Captain in the Royal Engineers.  For a biography see Captain Willingham Franklin Richardson RE (1843-1875): From Hampshire to the Himalayas, by Richard Voss in Soldiers of the Queen: Journal of the Victorian military Society, 170, pp24-32, Spring 2018.

An article about Willingham’s wife Elizabeth Blew PYM and their connection to the REYNOLDS family is available here. Their daughter Caroline Beatrice RICHARDSON was an artist who made many paintings now of historical interest.

14 thoughts on “RICHARDSON from Dumfriesshire, Scotland

  1. Hello – Would you have any information regarding Sarah Richardson who married Samuel Gordon in May, 1680 in Dumfries. Thank you

    1. Hi… I regret I do not have any information on these. My RICHARDSON information only goes back to those shown on my published database as of now. If you do turn up any information indicating a connection with my line, please let me know.

  2. Hello, Just wondering if you have info on John Richardson ( died prior to 1769) of Heck who married Elizabeth Wright. Their daughter married William Thorburn of Kelton. one of their sons was Rev William Thorburn of Troqueer.

    thank you

    1. Sorry – I have nothing on this John RICHARDSON. But, given his locality, he may well have been of the same clan.
      If you do turn up any information indicating a connection with my line, please let me know.
      Regards, Tony

    2. My grandma Hilda Richardson was born in Dumfries 1899 & we are descendants of John Richardson from Heck.

    1. Not sure how it it in the USA but in Europe, and certainly in Scotland, most properties have a name, often going back a long way. Many rural properties have no number, or if they do now they are not used. The name conveys the spirit of the place.

      These days in cities, houses are given numbers for ease of postal services etc. But many retain their name as well as a number.

      1. Thank you for the response. What a lovely tradition; giving the house a name. In the USA, houses are usually given a name unless they are historical. Where exactly is Rosebank? Is it a Bed & Breakfast?

        Added by Tony: I assume you mean “not given a name”. It is close by Dumfries and looked like a private house when I was there.

  3. Hello. I am from the John Richardson line. You mention JR’s nephew Benjamin emigrated to Canada. It was actually JR’s grand nephew Benjamin Hamilton who emigrated to Canada (Nova Scotia). Benjamin was my great grandfather.

  4. All this information on the Dumfriesshire Richardsons is really interesting. I think there were lots of other Richardsons in the area!
    I am doing some research into a Richardson family who lived at Plans in Ruthwell in the early 19th century – including one who became a ship’s captain with Allan Line.
    There was a William Richardson married to a Jannet Dickson who, in 1804, had a son David Richardson. (They also had other children John, James and Mary who died in infancy and a daughter Susan who died in 1838 aged 27 – information about deceased children from Cummertrees cemetery inscriptions).
    In 1831 there was a David Richardson (of Plans, Ruthwell) who became the father of another William Richardson born at Priestside, Cummertrees – his mother was Grace Graham. The birth entry says that he was “illegitimate”. I suspect that David Richardson, son of William and Jannet Dickson, was the father.
    William, born in 1831 in what do not sound like very auspicious circumstances, went on to become a Master Mariner and a respected Ship’s Captain with Allan Line on the Liverpool to Canada route.
    Does anybody have any interest in or further information about this family of Richardsons?
    (There was also another family of Richardsons at Plans in Ruthwell in the early 1800’s – the family of Francis Richardson and his wife Margaret Coulthart, but I think these are yet another Richardson family!)

    1. hi,
      I am related to the Richardsons of Priestside nearby Dumfries.
      William Richardson’s grandson Samuel Richardson is my g g grandfather. Edward Richardson was Samuels father.

      1. Julie… is your William RICHARDSON the same as the one mentioned by Andrew? Do you have dates for these folk?

  5. Has anyone come across a Captain Joseph Richardson who died in Clarencefield, Ruthwell in 1817? He owned a brig called Joanna that sailed between Antigua , Dumfries and Whitehaven that run aground in 1787 at Carsethorn, but survived and continued trading.
    His daughter, by 1817, then a Mary Paterson, (having first married a Richard Johnson Waugh and had three daughters Joanna, Mary and Isabella.) was running a ladies school in Clarencefield.
    Joseph’s wife Joanna died in 1820 in Castle Street Dumfries – another school run by Mary Paterson and eventually Isabella Waugh.

    Just wondering from where Joseph and Joanna originated. His will at Kew names his wife as Joanna Jellard (is there any connection to Plymouth and a potential marriage of them there in 1760?)
    There is a headstone in Ruthwell to Joanna, Mary and Isabella.

    PS added 26/10/18:
    In addition, as Joseph Richardson had a son Hugh, as named on the will, might this be a grandson of Joseph…

    Dumfries Weekly Journal 9th March 1824
    At Clancefield Academy, on the 7th
    inst., aged 13 years, William Smith Richardson,
    youngest son of Mr Hugh Richardson, late of Cocklitts, Ruthwell.
    This term ‘late’ suggests Hugh once lived at Cocklitts, not that he is deceased.

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