The Rickards Dynasty

Rev Robert Rickards
1 October 1733 – 15 November 1810
Roll No. 286

Rev Robert Rickards was born on 1 October 1733 in Usk Priory, Monmouthshire. He was the son of Thomas Rickards (1710- ) and Margaret Carter (1715 - ), a branch of the Rickards family of Evenjob, Radnorshire.

He was matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford in 1751 and was a minor canon and librarian at Gloucester Cathedral, also Vicar of St Mary de Lode and St Catherines in Gloucester.

Rickards was enrolled as Vicar of Llantrisant on 17 October 1767 at the bequest of the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester. He was also was made Portreeve of the Town by the Marquis of Bute.

During the same year he was presented onto the Freeman’s Roll, it being custom to grant clergy the privilege.

On his arrival a fulsome tribute appeared in the Courts Leet: “We the Grand Jury in the name of the whole Corporation do in the most humble manner return our most sincere thanks to our worth Portreeve for the great trouble he has taken in laying out the Corporation ash in draining, guttering and otherwise preserving the rights of the Corporation and in particular the Cymdda Common and we do further request that Mr Rickards will be so obliging as to order the gates of the Cymdda Common to be sufficiently repaired and hung in such a manner so as to prevent their being hove of their hinges.”

As an educated man and son of a landed gentlemen, he was identified by the estate officers as a suitable local man to whom the task of bringing the borough firmly into the “castle interest” might be entrusted.

It would appear that his arrival marked the end of a long decline in the standards of the borough administration. He even loaned money to the parish to pay for the construction of the first workhouse along Swan Street in 1783.

Rev Rickards was in a state of disbelief at the apparent lack of record keeping by the Courts Leet and desperately tried to recreate much of them.

His new position was not achieved without opposition from the Rev Gervase Powell of Llanharan, elected burgess on 27 October 1770 “in room of his brother, deceased”. His brother, William Powell was an alderman and Rev Gervase undoubtedly expected the same. He didn’t receive it and was hardly impressed by the arrival of Rev Rickards and this rivalry continued for the next twenty years which led to the workhouse affair and the downfall of Joseph John. 

Rev Rickards wrote to the Marquis of Bute regarding the Freeman’s Roll, stating, “…latterly certain causes of suspicion occurred to me that there had been misconduct and neglect heretofore respecting Records and other papers…”

Rev Rickards attempted to reconstruct the register of admissions from the date of the eldest living burgess, Robert William John in 1737.

At one point he came to loggerheads with Vaughan Lee of Lanelay over the introduction of new Freemen to the roll as they had voting rights and Rickards – as an agent of Lord Bute – needed to ensure his election success.

During his incumbency as vicar he was instrumental in the creation of the Vicarage where he later lived with his wife Hester Hawker (1738-1811) of Dudridge, Gloucestershire and their children including Robert Hillier, Richard Fowler Rickards.

He died in Gloucester on 15 November 1810 at the age of 77.

Richard Fowler Rickards
1765 – April 1848
Roll No .387

Brought up in Dudbridge, Gloucester, he was presented to the Freeman’s Roll in 1786 as the son of Portreeve Rev Robert Rickards. He was elected Alderman of the Courts Leet in 1787 in the place of the late Rees David. 

He married Charlotte Rickards in Bradford on Avon village of Holt on 13 February 1797. Their children were Elizabeth Margaret Traherne, Hely Hutchinson and Robert Hillier.

Rickards raised the Llantrisant Troop in 1820 for the Glamorganshire Yeomanry and took the Captaincy.

A substantial difference of opinion over the accounts of the Central Glamorgan & Llantrisant Yeomanry, between John Nicholl and Richard Fowler Rickards, which seems to have resulted, at least in part, from a clash of personalities and eventually resulted, in 1827, in the withdrawal of the Llantrisant Troop from that body and its re-establishment as a separate troop still under the command of Rickards, and the resignation of John Nicholl from his captaincy of the Central Glamorgan Yeomanry, although he continued in command of the troop until 1830 when he was replaced by Charles Morgan of Ruperra.

In 1828 the Llantrisant Troop combined with the Cardiff Troop to form the Eastern Corps of the Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry. Richard Fowler Rickards was commissioned Major in command of the new Corps

He resided in the fine Georgian mansion of Llantrisant but as Portreeve – and agent to the Bute offices – was hugely unpopular for his arrogance in denying any new Freemen being admitted to the Roll from 1814 and 1817. The reasons of which are documented here.

Robert Rickards MP
28 March 1769 – 23 June 1836
Roll No. 497a

Robert Rickards was the son of Rev Robert Rickards and Hester Rickards and enrolled as a Freemen on 29 November 1806.

He married Sarah Barbara, the daughter of Major John Samuel Torriano of Bombay. Their children were Robert Francis Bute Rickards and Charlotte Ella Richards

Robert was a Junior Merchant and Secretary to the Government, 1797; Senior Merchant 1805; Member of Council 1808-1811 for the East India Company in Bombay.

He distinguished himself in the East India Company service and, on his return there after a period in England on furlough, became one of the three members of the council at Bombay. An advocate of the cause of the native population against company maladministration who urged an experimental reform in the revenue system, he was recalled by the directors in 1811. He was a partner in the East Indian mercantile firm of Rickards, Mackintosh & Co. in the Bombay trade.

On his departure from Bombay, Rickards was fêted by his Indian admirers and became a spirited critic of the East India Company at home. In 1813 he purchased a borough seat on the interest of Joseph Pitt, with the sole intention of assailing the renewal of the Company’s charter in Parliament that session. Named to the select committee on Indian affairs, on 2 and 14 June 1813 he made two set speeches (afterwards corrected and published) against the Company’s commercial monopoly, claiming that its abolition was a prerequisite to improving native welfare and that as a commercial venture, let alone as a political and administrative one, the Company’s pretensions were bogus. 

These indictments made the Company directors peevish and uncomfortable; and even George Tierney*, the opposition spokesman, went out of his way to dissociate Lord Grenville from Rickards’s views under the impression that Grenville was being held to sanction them. A third speech promised by Rickards against the third reading of the company charter bill on 1 July 1813 never materialized, though he voted consistently against the Christian missions to India. 

On 5 July the Marquess of Bute introduced him to Lord Grenville: ‘He is recently come into Parliament, has made a figure, and is a great admirer of yours, which makes him very desirous of being known to you’. The outcome of this is not known, but Rickards, whom the Treasury had originally listed as a supporter, remained a dissident, if a silent one. He had voted for Catholic relief, 24 May 1813. 

He became MP for Wotton Bassett (1813 – 1816). He was in the minority against Lord Cochrane’s expulsion, 5 July, and voted against the continuation of the militia in peacetime, 28 Nov. 1814. On 28 April 1815 he obtained leave for illness and, after voting twice in the minority critical of the continental alliances, 9 February 1816, took extended leaves of absence for ill health. In June 1816 he vacated his seat.

Rickards published a two-volume study of the condition of the Indian natives in 1829. On the failure of his business in 1833, he was appointed a government inspector of factories in Yorkshire and Lancashire. He died 30 June 1836.

Robert Hillier Rickards
1802 – 29 December 1873
Roll No. 33

Son of Richard Fowler Rickards and Charlotte Rickards and enrolled as a Freeman of Llantrisant on 18 June 1825.

The husband of Caroline Octavia Rickards (daughter of Colonel Andrew Knox) their children were Robert, Andrew and Charlotte. A Barrister at Law, he was previously a member of the 3rd Bombay Lancers

In 1888 Robert Rickards bought Usk Priory from the mortgagees of Thomas Watkins of Highmead in the parish of Llanfair Cilgedin, Monmouthshire. Usk Priory had been the seat of the Jones family from about 1555 until 1810, when, with the death of the last member of the family, it had been sold to the dukes of Beaufort. 

Rev Hely Hutchinson Keating Rickards
December 1812 – 5 December 1881
Roll No 527

Hely was the son of Richard Fowler Rickards and his wife Charlotte. He was baptised in Stroud, 21 December 1812 and enrolled as a Freeman of Llantrisant on 28 April 1843.

A graduate of New Inn Hall, Oxford, he married Katherine Diana Lynch-Blosse (1811-1889) and lived in Wenvoe and Llandough.

Robert Windsor Rickards
1838 – 22 June 1924
Roll No. 728

Robert was the son of Rev Hely Rickards and lived as Usk Priory.

He was a well known civil engineer and enrolled as Freeman of Llantrisant on 6 May 1865.

Rev Marcus Samuel Cam Rickards
June 1840 – 26 February 1928
Roll No 1268

Born in Clifton he was the son of Robert Hillier Rickards and Caroline Knox he enrolled as a Freeman of Llantrisant on 13 May 1904.

He graduated from Merton College, Oxford for an MA and became the Vicar of Twigworth.

Rev Rickards wrote several volumes of poetry including “Poems New and Loud”, “Echoes From The Pentreubach” and “Twilight Music”

He married Edith Elizabeth Anson on 5 April 1865 and their children were Louisa Caroline Anson; Robert Hillier Traherne Anson, Marcus Cecil Anson.