Rev Benjamin Richardson



Benjamin Richardson (1758-1832) was the son of John Richardson (who made his will in 1780), gentleman of Churchill in Somerset. He gained a BA at Christ Church College, Oxford in 1781 and was ordained as a priest in the following year.

He took up the post of Curate at Holy Trinity parish church in Bradford on Avon in 1783. While Curate here he was disciplined by the Bishop of Salisbury after a dispute with Francis Hill resulted in a duel being called in 1786. Next to his return for Bradford to the Bishop’s Visitation of 1783, an unknown person has written “a coxcomb”, a term used of a person considered vain or conceited.

He married Ann (1763-1847), daughter of wealthy Richard Whatly of Bradford in 1785 and, through his wife, he came to own a number of properties, notably in the St Margaret’s Hill area and in Holt and built the house Lynchetts in Woolley Street as their home.

From 1796 until his death he was Rector of Farleigh Hungerford, lived there and was buried in front of the altar in the church. With a population of only 149 in Farleigh, he had plenty of time to pursue his scientific interests in natural history and geology and was said to have discovered the “Bradford Encrinite” Apiocrinites. William Lonsdale, President of the Geology Society of London, called him “a gentleman long and extensively known as a diligent and successful cultivator of science”.

He was a friend and supporter of William Smith, the “Father of English Geology” and was one of the triumvirate present when Smith dictated his Order of Strata at Rev Joseph Townsend’s house in Great Pulteney Street in Bath in 1799. He undertook part of the education of Smith’s orphaned nephew John Phillips, who went on to be Professor of Geology at Oxford University.