J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

The Marriage of Josiah Richardson

Back when I introduced Asahel Porter, killed at Lexington on 19 Apr 1775, I mentioned that there were two Josiah Richardsons in his story:

  • A man, reportedly from Salem, who got married in Seabrook, New Hampshire, on the same day.
  • The Woburn blacksmith and farmer who accompanied Porter into Lexington on that morning in 1775.
We know there are two Josiah Richardsons because the one who married Ruth Brooks went on to have children with her at least through 1788, and they both lived into the nineteenth century, according to The Brooks Memorial. In contrast, the Josiah Richardson who worked as a blacksmith in Woburn was a widower in 1782.

In that year the blacksmith wooed a Woburn widow named Sarah Richardson. (Richardson was a very common surname in Woburn because a lot of people from one English family had settled there; I previously wrote about Ebenezer Richardson marrying Rebecca Richardson.)

Sarah Wyman had married Ichabod Richardson in June 1770, and their son Ichabod arrived in January 1771. When the war began, the grown-up Ichabod Richardson enlisted in the provincial army for eight months during the siege of Boston, then signed onto a privateer named Warren. The Royal Navy captured that ship on 18 Nov 1776.

In 1879 the New England Historical and Genealogical Register published a table of American prisoners at Forton Prison in England that included “Icho’d Richardson” as one of five men captured while serving under “John Hammon / P. Master”; they were “Committed to Prison the 26th of June, 1777.”

Another column in the same table lists the fates of various prisoners: “Dead,” “Shot,” and “Enter’d”—which I believe means enlisted in the British military. Next to Hammon and Richardson’s names is “Run.” Apparently those two men escaped, at least for a while. But that’s the last trace of Ichabod Richardson from the 1770s, and even that news may not have made it back to Massachusetts.

In 1782, Sarah Richardson had been raising her son without a father for more than six years. I have no idea how she supported herself, but she was probably pleased to receive a proposal of marriage from an established craftsman. Josiah Richardson and Sarah Richardson married in Woburn on 19 Mar 1782.

And then Ichabod Richardson came back.

TOMORROW: Can this marriage be saved?


Charles Bahne said...

Hmm, you mention Sarah Richardson, nee Wyman, of Woburn...

Any relation to Hezekiah Wyman?

Or is this story getting too convoluted already?

J. L. Bell said...

Woburn had too many Richardsons and too many Wymans to sort out, not to mention how many women shared the same dozen first names.

John L. Smith said...

Forget who married who with what name. This story is getting like an episode of "Desperate Housewives". Can't wait til tomorrow to find out what happened when Husband #1 shows up at the front door!

J. L. Bell said...

Well, some of that genealogical detail was misdirection.

Unknown said...

Where's part II? I'm dying to know how this ends!