A photo of Isacc Richardson's home in Campbell Town, Tasmania

Richardson Brothers: Isaac & Simeon

Isaac Richardson – 10 Feb 1804  d. 13 Mar 1873

Simeon Richardson – 21 Jun 1807 d. 6 Oct 1893 

Our Richardson family reached Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land, on 18 November 1831 aboard the 638 ton convict transport “Lord Lyndoch”. They sailed from England on 27 July 1831 carrying 266 convicts which included Isaac and Simeon. Isaac was my g.g.grandfather.

Isaac was the eldest son and Simeon the third son of Benjamin and H/Ester (nee Moore) Richardson. Both had been born at Babington, Somerset but by 1816 the family had moved to Wrotham, Kent in England. Benjamin was recorded as a watch and clockmaker.

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Richardson – Six Generations

Isaac when aged 28 and Simeon 25, on 14 March 1831, were charged together with two other men, Thomas Parker and George Heaver, of robbing with force and arms of ten shillings from the widow, Ann Edmeades. They were found guilty and sentenced to death. A memorial was presented to the court, signed by 48 people, requesting leniency.

The death sentence was commuted to life. In the memorial, their father, Benjamin, is described as a clock and watchmaker and an old and respected inhabitant.

Isaac and Simeon spent some time in the Maidstone Gaol before being transported to the hulk “Retribution” at Sheerness, where both were noted to be in good bodily health and good behaviour. From there, they boarded the Lord Lyndoch for travel to Hobart.  

An account of their trial is to be found in the newspaper, Maidstone Gazette and Kentish Courier which took place at the Kent Lent Assize on Wednesday 14 March 1831 before the presiding judge, Sir William Garrow.

The robbery occurred at a time of great distress and poverty throughout England, there being poor living conditions, low wages, with the Kent area having experienced four years of poor harvests. Unemployment was rampant partly due to the introduction of the thrashing machine and the need for less labour.

The thrashing machine became the main target for destruction during the widespread disturbances. Those involved became known as “Swing Rioters” or “Machine Breakers”. In England some 2,000 arrests were made and 500 transported to Van Diemen’s Land. 

At times Isaac and Simeon were listed among the “Swing Rioters”.

On arrival, both Isaac and Simeon were sent to Campbell Town, with Isaac assigned as a labourer to James Hume and Simeon assigned to James King.

Isaac soon commenced action to bring his wife Matilda and two children, Edward and Esther to Campbell Town. They arrived around 1837.

Isaac quickly put his building skills to work and erected a brick residence at the corner of Bridge and Church Streets, Campbell Town. The house is noted in the 1842 census as being of brick and complete. It still stands.

A small white house with a chimney

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Isaac Richardson’s Home, Campbell Town

Isaac was multi skilled, a labourer, clock and watch maker, artificer and had surveying, building and carpentry skills. At the birth of all the children born at Campbell Town, Isaac is recorded as a watch maker.

Isaac Richardson was very active in the Campbell Town community, and besides being the resident watch maker, undertook building work, ensured their children received an education and maintained good relationship with numerous friends.

His building work included erecting a fence around the new Presbyterian Church, a fence at the school. Another was the building a fence at Kirklands Presbyterian cemetery around the grave of seventeen-month-old Lucy Johnston, daughter of schoolteacher, William Johnston. The workmanship was first class with the grave fencing built in the 1850s, still in good order.

Isaac died of convulsions on 13 March 1873, aged 69. His obituary records –

“Another old and respected colonist has been removed by death Mr. Isaac Richardson at the age of 69. He was a resident of Campbell Town for 42 years and was distinguished for his integrity. His remains were followed by more than 100 of the inhabitants on Sunday last to the burial ground of the Church of England, of which communion he was an honorable and conscientious member”

The headstone for Isaac and Matilda, though weathered, still stands.

Simeon’s life much contrasted to that of his brother Isaac, regularly being found drunk and abusive and subject to court actions.

In November 1854, Simeon appeared in court and was charged with stealing 200 posts and 200 rails, the property of James Pike. He was found guilty and sentenced to two years imprisonment at Port Arthur.

1856 brought further troubles. In June 1856, probably soon after release from Port Arthur, he called on Patrick Mullins and gave notice to quit the house, claiming the lease had expired. Mullins took objection claiming that Simeon did not own house. The argument developed into a physical altercation with Simeon sustaining injuries and Mullins being arrested and charged with assault.

With Simeons’s sobriety in question the charge was not proved, and the prisoner was released.

The house ownership is of interest, with Mullins claiming the house was owned by Simeon’s brother, (most probably by Isaac). Possibly Isaac, in support of Simeon had purchased the house and leased the property to Mullins.

In July 1856 Simeon, better known as “Black Sam,” appeared in court to answer a complaint preferred against him, of having had six bullocks on the public streets of Longford on the night of the 15th. instant.

The complaint was found proved and Simeon was fined 20s.6d.

In December 1856 it was reported that Simeon had received a sentence of six months imprisonment for violence against his wife Elizabeth. The Launceston Examiner of 13 December, report reads – “Simeon Richardson, better known as “Black Sam”, who in a moment of excitement caused by the drunkenness and pilfering of his wife, struck her violently, and received a sentence of six months imprisonment, four months of which has been completed when the Governor’s mission of clemency arrived in answer to his petition.”

On 21 May 1844, Simeon and Elizabeth Dewer (sometimes recorded as Dewar) married at the Longford Church of England, Simeon aged 36 and Elizabeth 22.

Elizabeth had been transported in 1842 for 7 years for stealing, a charge that she had faced on several prior occasions. She with 183 female convicts, departed from Woolwich on 2 October 1842 aboard the 483-ton convict vessel, Garland Grove, arriving at Hobart on 20 January 1843. Elizabeth had been tried at Devon, with her Native Place recorded as Tor Point, Cornwall.

Elizabeth and Simeon had no children and are buried in the Longford Christ Church cemetery but have no headstone.

At Simeon’s death, an obituary appeared in the Launceston Examiner on 11 October 1893. 

It reads, “A very old identity was laid to rest in the Christ Church yard yesterday afternoon, in the person of Simeon Richardson, better known as “old Sam”. Deceased who was 92 years of age, had been confined to his bed for about two years, his demise being due to a general breaking up of the system, and although he had attended a large number of funerals during his long residence here, only three persons followed his remains to their last resting place.

Simeon, while able to get about, was usually a visitor to the local stock sale yards and was often found entertaining a group with his startling accounts of olden times, and the men of the age, his narrations of the latter occasionally having the appearance of being very much exaggerated. He reconned himself, when able to work, the best fencer and well sinker in the district, and always spoke in the highest terms of the late Mr. James Keane, of Springbanks, as his master for nearly half a century. Deceased leaves an aged widow, but no family.

Written by Ivan Badcock – 22 June 2024

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