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RICHARDS Family History
Recorded in over one hundred spelling forms ranging from the German Reichardt, Richardi, and Richar, the English Richard, the French Ricard, the Flemish Rickaert, and diminutives or patronymics such as Riccardi, Liccardi, Richards, Richardson, Richardeau, Rickertssen and many others, this ancient surname is of pre 7th century Germanic origins. Deriving from the twin elements of 'ric' and 'hard', and translating as "powerful ruler", the name spread throughout Europe in the early medieval period. It was no doubt considerably helped in its popularity by its meaning, but the greatest impetus to its success came in the 12th century with the legendary exploits of King Richard 1st of England, (and much of France)...
Richards (Variant: Richardes)
Where the surname was absent, it was often replaced with Richardson, deriving from ‘son of Richard’, particularly in the North of England. Other diminutives and variations of Richard include Dick, one of the first and is still the most common-as is seen in the phrase ‘every Tom, Dick and Harry’. The variation Dick gave rise to the surnames Dickens, Dickenson and Dickson.
Early bearers of the surname include: Thomas Richardes, 1327 in Subsidy Rolls (Worcs); John Richards, 1539 in IGI (Wartling, Sussex); Elzabeth Richardes, 1541 in IGI (Holt, Worcs); Eline Richards, 1555 in IGI (Conway, Caernarvons); John Richards, 1563 in IGI (Perranuthnoe, Cornwall); John Richards, 1565 in IGI (Barnstaple, Devon); Edward. Richards, 1583 in IGI (Llandough by Cowbridge, Glamorgan); Willia. Ritchards, 1682 in IGI (Saint Alban Wood Street, London).
A notable George Richards (1767-1837), was an English poet and divine, son of James Richards, vicar of Rainham, Kent.
An English convict from Cornwall, John Richards was transported aboard the “Royal Sovereign” on 25 July 1835, settling in New South Wales, Australia.
In 1881, the surname was widespread across England and Wales with 43,909 occurrences and a further 144 in Scotland. The surname was particularly prevalent in Glamorgan, Staffordshire, Devon and Cornwall. Devon was a top county for the surname with 4,269 occurrences.
In the same year, it was reported that Farmer, Coal Miner and Labourer were the top 3 jobs worked by Richards in the UK, with Farmer being the most common. A less common occupation was Agricultural Labourer.
The famous Keith Richards (b.1943), an English rock musician and songwriter, member of the Rolling Stones.
Another notable, Lewis Fry Richardson (1881—1953), was a British physicist and psychologist who first applied mathematical techniques to predict the weather reasonably accurately.
Geographically, Richard’s Castle is situated on the border of the counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire. As well as being a castle, it is also a village and two civil parishes. Other geographic namesakes are Richards Deep in the Pacific and Richardsbreen glacier in Norway. There are also mountains in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Canada has towns called Richard, Richards Landing and Ritchardson Station while the US has several name related towns.
1881, 1891 Census
1881 Census in Cornwall
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
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