Chelmsford Historical Society
Richardson

The name Richardson has been perpetuated throughout the centuries. According to the Richardson Memorial by John Adams Vinton, during the ninth century and following the Norman invasion of Britanny, the name Richard appeared throughout Normandy, where it was favored by a series of ruling dukes.

The assignment of a surname was desirable to distinguish one man from another. Often, the name of the man's father, the place where a man lived, or his occupation were used. Thus, the names Jesse, the son of David; John of Gaunt; or Alexader the coppersmith were founded.

At some point in history, it became customary for a son (usually the eldest) to assume the name of the father, and to that name the suffix "son" was attached. Thus the name Richard-son, indicated a paternal relation. According to Camdens Remains:

"William Belward, Lord of the moiety of Malpasse, soon after the Norman Conquest, had two sons; the youger named Richard, named from his small size Richard the Little. One of the sons of the last-named Richard was called John Richardson, taking his father's name with the addiition of son for his surname."

In his History of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Rev. Wilson Waters reminds us of the origins of these names.

. . . when Abbotts were abbots and Barrons, barons; when Kemps were knights; when the Chamberlains cared for the wardrobe of the lord; and Park, Parker, Parkhurst, the Warrens and the Fosters (Foresters) had charge of the hunting and pleasure grounds; and the Baileys were bailiffs. When the Fletchers fledged or feathered arrows and the Bowers made the weapons to propel them; when Henchman was the faithful "right-hand man" of his chief, and Stoddard bore the Standard. When the lay Clarke (clerk) made the responses in Church, and the Hayward looked after the hedges and kept the cattle away. When Webb wove cloth, and Fiske (Fysche or Fisher) represented a craft which supplied many with an important portion of their food. When Wright worked in wood and the softer materials, and the Smith in metals; of which the latter name there is a remarkable dearth in our records. When Leach practised physic, and the Proctors kept the order, or managed the affairs of others. When Kidder carried his kit; when Marshal and Farrer shod horses; when Perham and By(h)am lived at the hamlet, and the sturdy Spaulding [epauleding] gave shoulder blows; and everybody knew the meaning of his name.

And, we cannot forget Richard I, "Coeur de Lione" or Richard the Lion Hearted (1157—1199), who suceeded his father Henry II, during the 12th century; his crusade–to take back the Holy Land.

It is the assertion of Vinton, that many of the earliest emmigrants to America came in search of religious and civil freedom. His own family were decendants of Huguenots who were forced to leave la belle France during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. As history recalls, on Aug. 24, 1572, over 30,000 Protestants were killed at the demand Catholic clergy—thus, the day is celebrated as St. Bartholomew's day. It was after this massacre that people fled to safer lands.  Some went to Scotland, others to Wales, Holland and Scotland.

Three brothers—Ezekial, Samuel and Thomas— emigrated to American, where they were founders of the town of Woburn, Massachusetts, along with several others.

Ezekial Richardson, arrived in 1630 with Winthrop's fleet, as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony founded in 1628 by Charles I; the ship on which he traveled is not known. Through a royal patent, all of the land between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans were to belong to England, and 50-60 persons under the direction of John Endicott came to claim their territory in 1630. The width of this claim reached from three miles north of the Merrimack River to three miles south of the Charles River.

His two brothers arrived in 1636 and several other persons of the name Richardson also traveled to New England and Virginia in those early days.

Ezekial married Susanna (her surname is not known) and joined the church at Charlestown (later know as the First Church in Boston), Aug. 27, 1632. They were dismissed to form the Firch Church in Charlestown on Oct. 14, 1632. He became a freeman on May 18, 1631.

He was a follower of Anne Hutchinson and John Wheelwright in 1637 along with many members of the Boston Church during the Antinonmian Controversy. His name was included on Remonstrances in WHeelwright's favor, but was later "erased" when the Court found him guilty of sedition.  Although we do not currently have a copy of this document, it is likely that other persons eventually from  Chelmsford supported Wheelwright.

On Apr. 13, 1644, Ezekial was elected as a selectman in Woburn, whose church was formed in Aug. 14, 1642 (O.S.) with a membership of seven: John Mousall, Edward Converse, Edward Johnson, William Learned, Ezekial Richardson, and Thomas Richardson.  Ezekial died Oct. 21, 1647 in Woburn, MA. He was about 45 years of age as his children were probably all under the age of 21. Only the baptism records are available. for the first six children; their exact dates of birth are not known.

  1. Phebe, bap. in Boston, June 3, 1632; married Henry Baldwin.
  2. Theophilus, bap. in Chalrestown, Dec. 22, 1633; m. Mary Champney.
  3. Josiah, bap. in Charlestown, Nov. 7, 1635; m. Remembrance Underwood.
  4. John, bap. in Charlestown, July 21, 1638;d. Jan. 7, 1642-3.
  5. Jonathan, bap. in Charlestown, Feb. 15, 1639-40; d. young.
  6. James, bap. in Charlestown, July 11, 1641; m. Bridget Henchman.
  7. Ruth, b. in Woburn, Aug. 23, 1643; d. Sept. 7, 1643.

Josiah, removed to Chelmsford with his brother James about the year 1659.

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