The George Seymour
Joseph Richards does not appear on the passenger list, but it is probable that Henry Richards, Mrs Amelia Richards, and Thomas Richards are his relations. Records show that in 1900, Joseph Richards was living in Papanui.
Joseph Richards came with his older brother, Henry, to Canterbury.
His brother was evidently a doctor and provided medical services in remote areas, although he never completed his medical degree.
The brothers came from a long line of yeoman farmers in Shropshire, inheriting and buying land. Apparently Henry Slater Richards Sen. (1805-1860) sent his two sons to New Zealand because he was displeased with their behaviour in England. Henry was married just before he left for New Zealand to Amelia Weston (1827-1915) − neither family was happy about this union.
Upon arrival, the brothers made a good choice of property in Christchurch, buying four town sections in what was to become Market Square (later Victoria Square). Henry was reputedly one of the first to erect a dwelling, in 1852.
The brothers also bought 100 acres of first-class farming land in the Harewood and Burnside areas of north Christchurch. A group of cabbage trees was the only guide to the site − these trees still stand in the grounds of Burnside High School.
Joseph was described in middle-age as a “typical John Bull, who could carry an enormous amount of liquor and could still sit on his horse as it carried him home. He weighed around 20 stone’’.
Joseph continued to farm close to the city, went bankrupt at one time and was bailed out by his son, Henry Slater Richards, who had become a land agent. He then moved his father into town, building a grand house for him, which later became a private hospital. Joseph died a wealthier man than he might have been, thanks to the efforts of his son.
After one year, Joseph’s brother Henry went into a brickmaking business with his friend, Henry Phillips. However, there cannot have been much profit as both turned to farming after one year. Henry had hoped to put his medical knowledge to use in Christchurch, but Dr Alfred Barker openly showed his dismay at Henry not being qualified.
Within two years of arriving, Henry and Amelia moved to Henry Phillips’ land at “Rockwood’’, near Hororata. There he was esteemed as “Dr Richards’’.
Henry and Amelia’s first house burned down in 1854. Two years later he built a larger home, where they lived till 1863. In that year, the family moved about 20 miles, buying 100 acres at Racecourse Hill, near Sheffield, on the Main West Coast Road. There they built an 11-roomed house, “Hawksview’’. In 1868, the family moved to Hororata, where Henry continued to practise medicine.
Henry died in 1887, aged 61, of pneumonia. Amelia lived till 1915. The couple had eight children.1
Joseph Richards (1828-1912) was the second son and third child of Henry Slater Richards (1801-1860) and Mary (née Skelding, 1806-1884) of Bridgnorth,
The family, which also included Henry (1826-1887), Mary Jane (known as Polly, 1827-1880) and Thomas (1830-1905), shifted to Bridgnorth in 1838. The boys were educated as day pupils at the
Henry Slater Richards was fond of fishing, a pastime that was keenly shared by Joseph in particular. None of the Richards boys were allowed to go fishing by themselves in the dangerous River Severn until they had learned to swim – a skill that probably served them well in
While his older brother Henry attended
There is no evidence that Henry Slater Richards sent his two older sons (Henry and Joseph) to
Henry Slater Richards purchased 100 acres of land on 2 July 1850, in
All this land remained in the ownership of Henry Slater Richards in
The Richards brothers enjoyed mixed fortunes in
Joseph Richards, like Henry, ran into money difficulties quite soon but survived by bartering some of the farming equipment supplied by his father. He is said to have been the first customer of blacksmith John Anderson, founder of
Joseph married 19 year-old Elizabeth Coster on 1 October 1857, at
Joseph farmed quite successfully at Harewood for about 10 years. He won several prizes at the Canterbury A & P Shows, first for cattle and later for sheep. A powerful but jovial man, he was loved by family and friends and well respected in farming circles. He was a hopeless businessman, however, and in 1867 was forced to sell all his stock. Three years later he was declared bankrupt, but such was his popularity that none of the creditors appeared to claim their dues. Nevertheless, the properties were put into the hands of a court appointee. Joseph shifted to
A history of Henry and Joseph Richards and the Richards family can be read in Set Sail for Canterbury – A record of the preparations of Henry Slater Richards of Bridgnorth, England, for his sons’ emigration to the Canterbury Settlement, New Zealand, in 1850 by Jennifer Quérée, Canterbury Museum/Caxton Press, Christchurch, 2002. The Richards Papers, which this book describes, are held in the Manuscripts Collection of Canterbury Museum, together with considerable additional material relating to the extended Richards family history.
© Jennifer Quérée