Joseph Richmond became Chief Steward to Walter Blackett in 1735 following the death of Lancelot Allgood, having hitherto served as cashier, a post which William Blackett III asked in his will of August 1728 that Richmond be retained in. Joseph must therefore quickly have made a favourable impression for he can scarcely have been working for the Blacketts for much more than a year. (In March 1759 he wrote that he been employed for almost 32 years). In a lawsuit of 1743 he was described as being ‘about 50 years of age’. A Joseph Richmond was christened in Aspatria, Cumberland on 17 April 1693, son of Henry Richmond, the name our subject gave his own eldest son. Joseph’s background is unclear, although it seems likely that he was the Joseph Richmond who lived at Poole in Dorset when married to Elizabeth Brickell in 1718 and at Deal two years later where a son, Henry, was baptised. Taken with the observation that he was a Customs House clerk in Newcastle in January 1726 when his daughter Elizabeth was baptised it is reasonable to conclude that he had entered a career in the Customs as a young man, and was subject to the policy of long distance staff moves between postings in order to try to reduce corruption. Perhaps from there he came to the notice of William Blackett or one of his Allgood agents. As Chief Steward Joseph had overall responsibility for the management of the Blackett lead business together with the landed estates. He lived rent-free in Lambert’s House on Pilgrim Street in Newcastle, right next to the southern boundary wall of the palatial Blackett mansion and grounds of Anderson Place. The property can be seen on prints of Anderson Place and as an inset plan around the edge of James Corbridge’s 1723 map of Newcastle. From the evidence of his letter books he was diligent and steady in his management of the Blackett business. Joseph died on 14th April 1763, his eldest son Henry saying of him “Last night you lost a faithful Servant & we the best of Fathers” in a letter the following day to Walter Blackett. Joseph was succeeded by Henry who had been assisting him due to his worsening ill health from as early as 1755.
John Gordon & Greg Finch
Joseph Richmond’s house, Newcastle, to right hand side of courtyard, viewed from Pilgrim St
James Corbridge Map of Newcastle 1723 (Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, D.NCP/2/2-5)
G.Finch, The Blacketts, a Northern Dynasty’s Rise, Crisis and Redemption, (2021)