Friday, May 30, 2008

Captain William Richards Letter 1817 Upper Canada

Captain William Richards Letter of 1817 With Notations

Mrs. Mary Richards (1)
London (2)
Bach Street
January the 30th 1817

To The Care Of ???? Allen (3)
???? Street, Wexford, Ireland (4)

Mary my dear loving wife.

This goes from me with my dearest respect to you hoping to find you in good health as it leaves me at present. Thank God for ??????? after ?????? a very heavy ???? of sickenings in ???? but thank God I have received it and was never better in health in all my life anymore than the loss of your company creates a great deal of uneasiness in my mind for fear that things do not go on to your satisfaction which would break my heart. I am not fit to be out of your sight more than a day my dear.

Day and night you are in my mind. All the world I would give to have my little darling with me this night. Mary my dear I am going to ????? the ????? And I hope that it will not be long before that I will be home again to have a happy meeting with my dear little wife.

My dear Mary I am ?????? ????? and for ever ????? I hope that you heard from your uncle (5). Hoping they are all well and my dear give my love & best respects to them. Hoping that we will meet and have a pleasant week together.

I am bound to Lisbon (6) and will be home in the first of April. ???? God to carry ??? more passengers. Write to me the day you get this letter and do not mind the expense for I would pledge my shirt to ???? your loving letter. Give my love to my mother (7) and sister (8). Hoping they are all well and wishing you may all live in peace is the only wish from your loving husband.

My dear I hope that you will ???? Nesbit Butteright (9). W. Allen (10) will tell you where to direct it to Mr. Joseph Williams (11), Puding Lane, No. 24. ??? yourself with every necessary and do not want for anything while I am able to earn a shilling. You will have your loving husband that adores you above all the world. Remember me to my uncles and aunt (12).

I have no more to say at present but will wait impationate for your answer. No more at present from your loving husband Wm. Richards (13). Til death do us part.

Mathew Walsh (14) desires to be remembered to his wife and family and he is well as all the crew (15) . Oh Mary my dear, but had I one sight of you this night I would be happy.


(1) Mary Richards Mary Richardson-Richards (c1791-1861) married sea Captain William Richards (c1790-1854) in about 1815, in Ireland. She was the daughter of Dorothea Blake-Richardson-Greenley (????-1828) by her first marriage. After being widowed her mother Dorothea married John Greenley (1775-1854) in about 1801, at Ferns, Wexford County, Ireland. Although unproven, a candidate for Mary’s father might be the William Richardson listed among the “Protestant Inhabitants Of The Parish Of Ferns” (National Library of Ireland, Dublin) – Richardson, William, parish clerk and schoolmaster of Ferns, killed at Enniscorthy, 28th May (1798), widow and five children left. If so, the other two children have not been identified.

(2) London London, England. Captain William Richards seems to be in London, between sea voyages, at the time he wrote this letter.

(3) Allen Unknown. Probably the W. Allen noted in #10 below.

(4) Wexford, Ireland Mary Richards was born somewhere in Wexford County, Ireland … Wexford also being the origin of the Richards and Greenley families. The address suggests Mary Richards was living in the city of Wexford in 1817.

(5) Uncle Uncertain. This could be a reference to any of Dorothea Blake- Richardson-Greenley’s brothers; Cuthbert, John, Joseph or Robert. All were born at/near the Townland of Balligen, Preban Parish, County Wicklow and later moved to the Townland of tomdarragh, Derrylosary Parish, County Wicklow.

(6) Lisbon Lisbon, Portugal. In 1817 letter writer William Richards is believed to have been the master of a merchant sailing vessel trading between London, Lisbon and the West Indies. (See H.R. Moran, “The First Tay Canal”, Ontario Historical Society, Vol. 29, 1933).

(7) Mother Captain William Richards’ mother, name unknown. This passage indicates that the H.R. Moran paper (see # 6 above), recounting that Captain Richards was an orphan due to the murder of both his parents during the 1798 Irish Rebellion is, at least as far as his mother’s death is concerned, untrue. Captain Richards’ mother was apparently alive in 1817.

(8) Sister Possibly Elizabeth Ann Richards-Busher (c1794-1875), author of the 1837 letter to Captain Richards (see notated 1837 letter). William Richards could well have had more than one sister, but in the letter he uses the singular suggesting only one sister. (9) Nesbit Butteright Unknown. Handwriting difficult to decipher, but it looks like Nesbit Butteright. (10) W. Allen Unknown. Probably the Allen, living in Wexford City, Ireland, through whom the letter was addressed.

(11) Joseph Williams Unknown, but the man through whom Captain Richards received mail in London so possibly a ship broker, owner or trader associated with the Lisbon & West Indies trade.

(12) Uncles & Aunt Probably Dorothea Blake-Richardson-Greenley’s siblings; Cuthbert, John, Joseph, Robert and Ann.

(13) William Richards Captain William Richards (c1790-1854). Born in Wexford County, Ireland. Seems to have gone to sea around age 12, served in the British Navy during the Napoleonic and American wars, and later became a merchant ship captain. He married Mary Richardson in about 1815. They moved to Nova Scotia Canada in about 1817 and to New Brunswick about 1818. From the east coast of Canada he sailed a schooner in the West Indies trade and later built and commanded his own brig, the “William & Mary”, in the same trade until the brig and her cargo were lost in a storm. He and wife Mary moved to Perth, Ontario sometime prior to 1832. William built and commanded the Tay & Rideau Canal steamer “Enterprise” until 1836 and then another steamer on Chats Lake for a year or two.

(14) Mathew Walsh Unidentified. Apparently a crewman on Captain Richards’ ship with a wife and family living in Wexford, Ireland. (15) Crew This reference to “the crew” tends to confirm that Captain William Richards was the master of a sailing vessel

Submitter: Ron W. Shaw

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