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RICHARDSON, JOHN

Sir John Larkins Cheese Richardson (1810-1878)

John Larkins Cheese Richardson was born on 4 August 1810 in Bengal, India. He was the son of Robert Richardson, an East India Company civil servant, and Mary Anne Romney.

On 11 February 1834 John married Charlotte Laing. They had three children before she died in 1842. He joined the East India Company and served as a staff officer until his retirement to England in 1851.

John came to New Zealand in 1852 and returned in 1854 to England where he published a travel book A Summer's Excursion in New Zealand...by an Old Bengalee. He returned to New Zealand in 1856, aged 46, with his three children. He bought 150 acres in South Otago. By 1858 a homestead called Willowmead was built.

John became involved in politics. He was elected superintendent of Otago in 1861. He was superintendent in 1862 when the Otago provincial council decided to bring out from Britain young women to become domestic servants for Dunedin families made wealthy from the gold-rush. But a scandal ensued when the women's crowded accommodation in the Female Immigration Barracks was considered unhealthy and likely to promote prostitution. John was informed that the women were on starvation diets and that immoral behaviour was occurring. John's response was to have a high fence erected around the women's barracks, to make it more difficult for any 'liaisons' to occur, and the women were given meat every day.

In March 1863 John's opponent John Hyde Harris used this 'servant-maid scandal' against him, saying he was callous and treated the young women 'so ill that the ranks of prostitutes are weekly augmented from the immigration barracks'. John wasn't voted in again in 1863.

The premier Edward Stafford appointed John to the Legislative Council in 1867. He was the vice-chancellor in Otago's newly-formed university council in 1869 and later the chancellor. He was also responsible, along with Learmonth Dalrymple, for the establishment of Otago Girls' High School. John, along with James Bradshaw, had the hours of work for women in factories shortened in 1873.

John was created a Knight Bachelor in 1875 and died on 6 December 1878 in Dunedin.

-- See: Trotter, Olive. 'Richardson, John Larkins Cheese 1810 - 1878'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

Amanda Kennedy


John Larkins Cheese Richardson
Image courtesy of:
Alexander Turnbull Library Reference: MNZ-0435-1/4;F Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before re-use of image

Monumental Inscription


IN
MEMORY OF
MAJOR, THE HONORABLE
SIR JOHN LARKINS CHEESE RICHARDSON
OF
THE BENGAL HORSE ARTILLERY
H.E.I.C.S.
SUPERINTENDENT OF OTAGO
SPEAKER OF THE LEGISLATIVE
COUNCIL OF NEW ZEALAND,
CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY
OF OTAGO.
BORN 4th AUG. 1810
DIED 6th DEC. 1878.



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