Friday, 15 March 2013

The Richardson brothers: Mayors of Stockton & Middlesbrough

In 1857, Dr William Richardson became mayor of the ancient market town of Stockton-on-Tees.

In 1858, Dr John Richardson became mayor of the new industrial town of Middlesbrough.

They were brothers.

William and John Richardson were born near York.  They both received their medical training at the University College Hospital, London. 

William Richardson (1814-71) was the elder brother.  He must have come to Stockton soon after qualifying, as he is to be found living on the North Side of Silver Street in the census of 1841 – and with him was his younger brother John, as “surgeon pupil.”

William was an important and active figure in the medical, civic and sporting life of Stockton.

He was surgeon to the Stockton Dispensary, a magistrate, alderman, and Mayor of Stockton in 1857-8.  He was for many years the President of the Stockton Cricket Club.  He was instrumental in running the Whitsuntide Sports held at the Cricket Ground and in reviving Stockton Races at the new site at Mandale in 1859.

He and his wife Ann lived at 65 High Street; it seems they did not have children.

William died at the age of 57 of a stroke:

The British Medical Journal, 25 February 1871 
Mr William Richardson, L.S.A, died at Stockton on February 18th, of paralysis at the age of fifty-seven.  For upwards of thirty-five years he had successfully practised in that town, of which he was mayor in 1857-8; he was also for many years alderman and justice of the peace.  
Mr Richardson was well-known in the north of England as an ardent supporter of all manly games, and in 1856 a testimonial of the value of a hundred guineas was presented to him in recognition of his patronage of English sports.  He was a good friend to the poor in Stockton, and from the kindliness and superiority of his character was held in affectionate esteem by all classes.  
He was for many years a member of the British Medical Association, and a constant supporter of the Royal Medical Benevolent College.

John Richardson (1818-74) was the younger brother.  He followed William to Cleveland and took over the practice of Charles Slee, who had moved to Penrith.  In 1848 he became Medical Officer to the Parish of Middlesbrough. 

John was a Freemason, a magistrate, the fifth Mayor of Middlesbrough, and surgeon to various ironworks and to the Order of Foresters.  He was invited to be the first surgeon of North Ormesby Hospital.

Dr John Richardson (1818-74)
In November 1851 he married Margaret Elizabeth Weatherill in Guisborough.  She was the daughter of the solicitor William Weatherill and his wife Ann Jackson, and was some 17 years younger than her husband.

They made their home at 25 Sussex Street, Middlesbrough, which was a respectable middle-class area – the neighbours were another surgeon, a solicitor and a manager of iron works – and had three children.

Their son William was born during John’s term in office as Mayor in 1858-9.

The birth was the first occasion of the kind in the newly-created borough, and some of his fellow aldermen and members of the Corporation were evidently eager to mark the occasion.

A printed invitation to subscribe to a gift was sent out to the Burgesses of the town, assuring them that this was "in accordance with a time honoured Custom in many older Towns", and Margaret Richardson was duly presented with a small model cradle fashioned out of silver, standing on an oak plinth. 

The plaque on the stand under the cradle suggested that the desire to contribute was perhaps not unanimous.  It read,
"This Cradle is Presented by a number of the Burgesses of Middlesbrough to Margaret Wife of The Worshipful John Richardson Esquire MAYOR To commemorate the happy event of an accession to His Worship's family in the year of his Mayoralty by the Birth of William his first son on the 10th day of January 1859.  
Isaac Wilson, Chairman & Treasurer, John S Peacock, Secretary." 

In 1872, a year after his brother’s death from “paralysis”, John too suffered a stroke.  It left him much weakened, and he retired to live at Coatham with his wife and teenage children.  He died two years later, in 1874.

The officials and dignitaries of Middlesbrough were evidently anxious that the funeral should be carried out with all due civic ceremony:

Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough, Monday 19 October 1874  
On Saturday afternoon the remains of the late Dr Richardson were interred in the Old Cemetery, Middlesbrough.  His death occurred on Thursday night, the 15th inst., at his residence at Coatham.  
He was born in the year 1818, and was in the 56th year of his age.  He qualified for the medical profession at University College Hospital, London, and at Dublin.  He came to Middlesbrough over 20 years ago, and started a practice, and as his professional abilities and genial characteristics became known, he gained both the esteem and respect of his fellow-townsmen.  
In 1858 he was elected Mayor for the borough, and his portrait now hangs with those of other of the early mayors of the town, in the committee room in the Corporation Hall.  
About eight years since he was joined in partnership by Dr Ellerton.  He was seized with a fit of paralysis about two years ago, and since that time his health has been considerably debilitated.  About 12 months since he went to reside at Coatham, but frequently came to Middlesbrough, and whenever he did so, came to fill his place at the bench, where his long knowledge of the duties of a magistrate, coupled with his shrewdness of character and thorough impartiality, made him welcomed by the innocent and feared by the guilty.  
Within the last three or four weeks his health became worse, and he was attended by Dr Ellerton, his partner, and Dr Tarleton, who was the partner of his late brother in Stockton.  Notwithstanding all that could be done to relieve his sufferings, he continued to sink, and on Thursday evening he expired.  The immediate cause of death was congestion of the liver.  He leaves behind him a widow, two daughters, and a son.  
Some time ago, a number of influential townsmen and others, who knew the sterling good qualities of the deceased gentleman, presented him with an illuminated address – a silver salver and a purse containing over £1,000 – to mark their appreciation of his efforts for the public good.  He was a strong Conservative and a Churchman.  
In compliance with a wish expressed by him shortly before his death, his remains were borne to their last resting place by twelve Redcar fishermen, with whom he had been on the greatest terms of intimacy, and to whom the presence of the “old doctor” was as welcome as sunshine.  
The members of the Corporation and police force, headed by Mr Saggerson, the chief constable, assembled at the Railway Station, Middlesbrough, at half-past two, and the coffin, which was polished oak with brass mountings, and bearing of a brass plate the inscription – “Mr John Richardson, surgeon, Middlesbrough; born, December 18, 1818; died, October 15, 1874,” having been placed in a hearse, the funeral procession was then formed.  Mr Saggerson and the police force walked first, the members of the Corporation, Corporation officials, magistrates, and other gentlemen following.  There were two mourning coaches and several carriages of private gentlemen, amongst which were those of Mr R Lloyd, Mr E Gilkes, Dr Ellerton and Dr Walker, besides a large number of cabs.  The family mourners were Mr W Richardson (the son of the deceased gentleman,) Mr Hodgson, Guisborough, and Mr Weatherell, Guisborough.  The members of the Corporation present were Aldermen West, Dalkin, Harris, and Thompson; Councillors R Stephenson, Willman, Wilson, R Dixon, Hansom, Roberts, Imeson, Todd, Hunter, Dunning, Bulmer, and Ingram.  The Corporation officials present were Mr J T Belk (town clerk), Mr E D Latham (borough surveyor), Mr E J Saggerson (chief constable), Mr J Booth (gas manager), and Inspector Reed.  In addition to these, the following gentlemen among others were present: Mr G Watson, JP, Dr Ellerton, Dr Sleightholme, Mr T Brentnall JP, Mr Manners, Rev A C Smith, Mr Jordison, Mr J Fallows JP, Mr J Wilson, Mr H Swan, Captain Swan, Mr A C Knowles JP (Stockton), Dr Tarleton (Stockton), Mr J Kirk (Stockton), Mr G Bottomley JP, Mr R Lloyd, Dr Walker, Mr J Peacock, Mr H Brentnall.  The burial service was read by the Rev J K Bealey, vicar of Middlesbrough.

Margaret Richardson was left a widow at the age of 40.  She moved back to Guisborough and remarried in 1885.

Their daughter Annie Richardson (1856-80) married Alfred Cochrane of Norton House, Coatham, on 9 May 1875 at St George's, Hanover Square.  The Cochrane family were colliery owners and ironmasters.  Annie had two children, Muriel Winifred Cochrane (1878-1943) and Alfred Cholmley Cochrane.  She died young in 1856, and Alfred remarried.  Gerald Cochrane of 'The Box', Nunthorpe was Alfred's son by his second marriage.

Her younger sister Ellen ("Nelly") Richardson (1857-1928) married William Greeve del Strother of Newham Grange, Stockton on Tees, in Bristol on 30 March 1880.  She was left a young widow with two sons (William Launcelot Aleyne del Strother and Ralph Lyndhurst del Strother) on her husband’s death ten years later.  She died in Whitby in 1928 and is buried in Guisborough.

Their brother William Richardson (1859-1927) became a Guisborough solicitor. 

John Richardson is commemorated for his work in North Ormesby in the display boards in the reception area of James Cook Hospital.

24 October 2017:  I have removed the photograph labelled Dr William Richardson from this blogpost, because I've been contacted by the great-great-grandson of the Revd Henry Clarke of Guisborough with the information that it's definitely a photograph of Henry Clarke.  A case of wrong identification by one of my family many years ago!


  1. Hi Alice,

    I read your article on the Richardson brothers. Did you know that Ellen Richardson's son William Lancelot Aleyne Del Strother married Sybil Maud Cochrane, the daughter of Alfred Ormesby Cochrane (Annie Richardson's husband) by his second wife Adelaide Sophia Coleman? I think the elite of Middlesbrough pretty much married each other at that time!

    J Cochrane

  2. I did - he was the del Strother who lived in Sleights, wasn't he? And his brother who had been a Royal Marine in WWI married an American heiress?
    I think the Middlesbrough elite did pretty much marry each other - and I've always thought it would be interesting to plot the interconnecting circles of Teesside commercial and professional life, because it really was quite a small world over several generations