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Willie/William John Richards

My great grandfather and the last (or first) of the three William Richards I know about is simultaneously a man of mystery and an open book.  He has been easy to find in all the records, so we can trace his movements from birth to death and through all the censuses.  But I have little feeling for what kind of person he was.

He lived all his life in Portsmouth, which as everyone knows is a Royal Navy town.  It’s probably less true now, but in Willie Richards‘ day a large portion of the population would have had some naval connection, and the Richards clan was no exception.  This William began as a shipwright and ended as a draughtsman.  At this stage I am not sure whether this is a step up the social ladder, sideways or downwards.  My guess is that it  is a step up as it is more of a white collar than blue collar occupation.

I have requested his employment records, so far with no joy, and hope that they may tell us more about him.  

Willie/William John Richards

b 10 August 1854 Portsmouth

m Annie Tier 27 June 1878

St Paul’s Square Chapel, Portsmouth

d 27 March 1921, Portsea


Alice Maud 1880-1962

Flora Annie 1882-

Edith Jessie 1882-

May 1886-

Jessie 1888-

William George 1891-

Ernest Edwin 1894-

Thomas Francis 1896-


Birth certificate

Marriage certificate

Death certificate

Census - 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911

Birth certificate of daughter Alice



The birth certificate says Willie, but ever after he is called William.  Willie, of course is nowadays a fairly dodgy nickname derived from William.  Maybe it was then too - hence the change to William.  William is one of the most popular names in the English-speaking world through all time.  In England it probably all began with William the Conqueror.   It’s origin is Teutonic and means will, resolve and helmet.


Guillaume, Gwilym, Wilhelm


Bill, Billy Will, Willy, Wills is a current version.



A Hebrew name meaning ‘Jehovah has favoured’.  An extremely popular name down through the ages - mostly because of the biblical characters who bore the name.  In this case it was his father’s second name too.


Evan, Giovanni, Jonathan, Johan, Ivan, Jenkin, Sean, Juan, Jean


Johnny, Johnno, Jack, Jackie, Jacko