William Albert Richardson

William Albert Richardson[1]

Male 1839 - 1927  (88 years)

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  • Name William Albert Richardson 
    Nickname Albert 
    Born 17 Jun 1839  Hudderfield, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3
    Christened 14 Jul 1839  Hudderfield, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [4, 5
    Saint Patricks Catholic Church 
    Gender Male 
    _UID E46F50D6A4C74BA7B28388254A85E890FF2E 
    Died 11 Aug 1927  South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 6, 7
    Deighton Road, Dutton Park 
    Buried 12 Aug 1927  Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 8
    Grave 407, Portion 2, South Brisbane Cemetery, Annerley Rd, Dutt 
    Person ID I1768  Treefive
    Last Modified 26 Aug 2019 

    Father William Richardson,   b. Abt 1806, Durham, County Durham, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Mother Ellen Hirst,   b. 20 Dec 1813, Hudderfield, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Apr 1845, Hudderfield, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 31 years) 
    Married 20 Jul 1836–21 Jul 1836  Hudderfield, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
    Saint Patricks Catholic Church 
    Family ID F22  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Mathilde Mackereth,   b. 5 Mar 1853, Adelaide, South Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Feb 1926, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 72 years) 
    Married 24 Sep 1870  Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [15, 16, 17, 18
    St Patrick's Cathedral 
     1. Edith Ellen Beatrice Richardson,   b. 20 Jun 1871, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1962, Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 90 years)
     2. Florence Matilda Richardson,   b. 4 Jul 1872, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 1926  (Age < 53 years)
     3. Albert Vincent Richardson,   b. Dec 1873, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1958, Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 84 years)
     4. Charles Leo Richardson,   b. 18 Oct 1875, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Feb 1960, Los Angeles, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years)
     5. Harold Wilfred Richardson,   b. 1877, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 May 1942, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 65 years)
     6. Millicent Hespera Richardson,   b. 18 Apr 1883,   d. 1977, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years)
     7. Rudolph Alfonso Richardson,   b. 6 Mar 1886, Eastbourne, Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Mar 1963, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 76 years)
     8. Madoline Lillian Richardson,   b. 13 Jan 1891, Adelaide, South Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Dec 1904, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 13 years)
    Last Modified 12 Sep 2019 
    Family ID F883  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    00664 Headstone - Mathilde and William Albert Richardson
    00664 Headstone - Mathilde and William Albert Richardson
    South Brisbane Cemetery

  • Notes 


      William Albert Richardson, also known as Albert Richardson, was born on 17 Jun 1839 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, the second child of William and Ellen Richardson nee Hirst. His older sister Sarah Jane was born in 1837. Another sister, Ellen Hirst Richardson, was born in Mar 1845. Their mother died in Apr 1845, and the infant Ellen died shortly after. William Albert’s father remarried in 1847, to Eliza Berry.

      In the census of 1851, William Albert and his sister Sarah Jane were not recorded as being with their father at Huddersfield. Sarah Richardson of Huddersfield was at St Mary’s School in 3 Blossom Street, Micklegate, York. The whereabouts of William Albert on census night is not known.

      William Albert was part of the Richardson family that emigrated to Victoria, Australia on the ship Ajax in 1853.


      Between 1863 and 1866 William Albert had travelled overseas returning to London. During this time it seems he also studied at the Milan Conservatory of Music because he was described as returning from Italy to join W. S .Lyster’s company when he made his debut on 6 January 1866 to appear as the Count in “Il Trovatore” [The Argus Sat 29 June 1878]. He was described as having studied under Furtado and Garcia in The Argus. He made his debut in Melbourne but then travelled with the Lyster Company to Hobart, Tasmania.

      How did William Albert finance his travels and overseas studies? Sarah Jane may have prevailed on her wealthy husband to sponsor her brother abroad. There is no doubt that she was extremely fond of her younger brother. Sarah Jane later witnessed her brother’s wedding and assisted at the birth of her niece, Edith Ellen Beatrice, in 1871. She named one of her children after him, William Albert who sadly did not survive past infancy. He could have been sponsored by W.S. Lyster or his brother Fred on the basis of a commitment to return and join the W. S. Lyster opera company. Fred Lyster made a similar offer to singer Edward Armes Beaumont in Melbourne but Beaumont turned him down.

      He described himself as having “studied the art of singing under Manuel Garcia, Gaetano Nava and Sims Reeve, the famous English tenor.” [Brisbane Courier 16 Sept 1898.]

      William Albert later described himself as having been the musical director to the Melbourne Operatic Society and Melbourne Lyric Club but when exactly is not known. See Brisbane Courier 5 October 1898.

      He became a member of the Royal Society of Victoria in 1868, giving his address as 75 Spring Street Melbourne. Another reference is to Palermo House, 13 Spring Street. This was said to have been directly opposite the Victorian Parliament House. The rear of 73 and 75 Spring Streets backed on to Laings lane so this may help pinpoint the site from old maps.

      The next major street running parallel to Spring Street was Stephens Street, now renamed Exhibition Street. Stephens Street had a large number of brothels. A house in Little Lonsdale Street has been recreated in an interactive display contained in the Melbourne Museum to show what life would have like living in a nearby area.

      William Albert became a philanthropist. He gave such a large donation to the Melbourne Lying In Hospital [now the Royal Melbourne Hospital] that he was made a life governor in 1869. Other opera singers from Lyster’s troop were also made life governors of the Hospital for the same reason.

      William Albert also personally organized concerts to raise money for St. Mary’s Church in Williamstown using his own pupils as performers. 500 persons attended one such concert. This was characteristically generous of the man and a pattern he repeated throughout his life.
      William Albert advertised his pupils’ tenth grand operatic concert for 9 November 1870 to raise funds for the Melbourne Ladies Benevolent Society. Miss Mackereth, the pupil of Mr. C. E. Horsley, played a duet on the pianoforte with her teacher.

      William Albert described himself as being musical director to the Melbourne Operatic Society and Melbourne Lyric Club but when exactly is not known. See Brisbane Courier 5 October 1898.
      He became a member of the Royal Society of Victoria in 1868, giving his address as 75 Spring Street Melbourne – close to the end of Collins Street but probably where the underground railway exits from Parliament Station into parkland.

      He gave such a large donation to the Melbourne Lying In Hospital (now the Royal Melbourne Hospital) that he was made a life governor in 1869. Other opera singers from Lyster’s troop were also made life governors of the Hospital for the same reason.

      William Albert also personally organized concerts to raise money for St. Mary’s Church in Williamstown using his own pupils as performers. 500 persons attended one such concert. This was characteristically generous of the man and a pattern he repeated throughout his life.

      William Albert advertised his pupils’ tenth grand operatic concert for November 9 1870 to raise funds for the Melbourne Ladies Benevolent Society. It is particularly interesting to note the presence of a Miss Mackereth, the pupil of Mr. C. E. Horsley, playing a duet on the pianoforte with her teacher. This is likely to have been Ellen Harriet as the oldest unmarried daughter.

      However Mrs. Albert Richardson later advertised her services as a pianoforte teacher, the pupil of Mr. C. E. Horsley in 1879. Very interesting to note the preparedness of the Mackereth ladies to go out and earn their keep in what must have been a very circumscribed society.

      In 1870 William Albert married Mathilde Mackereth. He was 31, she was 17. He described his father as a “gentleman” and Mathilde as a “lady” in their marriage certificate, note the importance of having respectable antecedents. She was the second eldest daughter of James and Henrietta Lucia Mackereth nee Schumacher. The marriage witnesses were Mathilde’s parents and William Albert’s sister Sarah Jane Sinnott.

      Albert Vincent Richardson, (William Albert’s son), told his daughter Roma:
      “Grandfather opened a feed and grain shop in Melbourne (of which he knew nothing) and promptly lost all his money and William Albert then had to keep two families.”

      William Albert did not marry until 1870 so the reference to “two families” and a failed business might be out of synchronization. In 1866 The Argus reported that William Richardson had become insolvent but this was while he was operating a hotel.

      On 13 December 1877 William Albert announced the first performance of the opera, Maritania by the Opera di Camera. The list of performers/ artists included “Miss Richardson” probably Hilda Margaret born 1848, “Elly Sinnott” probably Ellen Margaret Sinnott born 1857 and “Miss Mackereth” probably Ellen Harriet born 1851. According to social convention, the eldest unmarried daughter was referred to as Miss [surname], the next eldest unmarried daughter had their first names specified: refer Austin’s novel Pride and Prejudice where Miss Bennett (the eldest daughter, Jane) and Miss Elizabeth Bennett are introduced to other characters.

      According to Millicent Hespera Richardson (William Albert’s youngest daughter), William Albert and Mathilde Mackereth first met at the Philharmonic Society in Melbourne. “It was love at first sight and they idolized each other all their lives.” Both played musical instruments but only William Albert sang. He played the harmonium and she played the piano. There is an oral family tradition that “one of William Albert’s two sisters played the cello”, since Sarah Jane died early, it must have been either Hilda Margaret or Mary Ellen, both of whom would have lived long enough to be associated with this memory.

      For a short time William Albert also briefly conducted the choir at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1876. This is and remains the premier Cathedral in Melbourne. This was a great honour. The Richardson family lived close to the Cathedral, having moved the short distance from Spring Street to Alfred House in Evelyn Place, East Melbourne (a tiny lane way still in existence off Nicholson Street). Alfred House does not appear to be still there.

      In 1879 William Albert Richardson published The Art of Singing in Melbourne – cribbing the idea from one of these tutors who had published a similar treatise at an earlier time.


      In 1870 the Richardsons were living at 75 Spring Street, Melbourne. According to Albert Vincent’s daughter Roma, “After [William] Albert Richardson married Mathilde, [William] Albert and Mathilde stayed for some time with the Mackereths in Adelaide.” But the Mackereths were based in Victoria by then and so were the Richardsons, having babies.
      William Albert and Mathilde had children born in Victoria:
      Edith Ellen Beatrice born in 1871 [Spring Street]
      Florence Matilda born in 1872
      Albert Vincent born in December 1874
      Charles Leo “Charlie” born in 1876
      Harold Wilfred “Fred” born in 1877.
      Possibly Jane born? Died 1878.


      In 1878/9 William Albert Richardson announced his “retirement” and plans to leave Melbourne and resettle his family in Adelaide. Roma may have been referring to this period of time, as Henriette Lucia and her spinster daughter Ellen Harriet returned to live in Adelaide after the death of James Mackereth in 1880.

      There is a listing of passengers traveling by ship from Melbourne to Adelaide in 1879.
      The W. S. Lyster Opera Company disintegrated around this time after the death of its founder so perhaps the decision was an economic one.

      Perhaps a clue is contained in the dedication in the flyleaf of a set of musical hymn scores which states:
      “To Professor Richardson
      From St Laurence’s choir
      North Adelaide,
      Easter Sunday 1880.”

      The South Australian Register of 20 Nov 1879 advised of Mr Albert Richardson's Students' First Grand Operatic Concert, to be held on 2 Dec 1879 at the Town Hall in Adelaide. Albert and Mrs Richardson were among the artists taking part in the programme. Tickets were available, inter alia, from Mr Richardson's residence, Wakefield Street.

      On 9 May 1882, the Richardson family attended a Grand Operatic Concert in Launceston Tasmania. This was a farewell concert for Albert and Mrs Richardson.
      According to the Launceston Examiner of 10 May 1882, 'Mr Richardson must have been extremely gratified at the large audience which testified to the esteem in which both Mr. and Mrs Richardson were held by the citizens of Launceston. Mr Richardson has taken a prominent part in the musical world of Launceston during his 12 months' stay here, and is now leaving on account of ill-health, his medical man advising a warmer climate.'


      It is surprising that no children appear to have been born between 1878 and 1883 to William and Mathilde. Millicent Hespera Richardson was born in 1883 on the way to England from Adelaide on board the ship Hesperus.

      The family settled in West Kensington, London first where William Albert subsequently described himself as “having been the musical director to the West Kensington Amateur Opera Company, London”. This statement confirms the family oral tradition that the Richardsons first settled in London upon arrival.

      William Albert sang with the Carl Rosa’s Opera Company in England. Rosa had established an English singing opera company and an Italian singing opera company and William Albert Richardson passed himself off as Alberto Riccardi for that purpose.

      During his career in England, William Albert taught singing in the following distinguished families – Countess Rosebery, Lady Brabazon, Viscount Hampden, Lord Edward Cavendish, Countess Tolski, Viscount Canterbury, Lady Cavendish Bentinck, General Sir Gerald Grahame, Admiral Sir William Hewett, General North, Sir William Grantham, Lady Peel, Lady Leigh, General Stedhall. [See advertisement in the Brisbane Courier]

      Richardson claimed familiarity with a large number of operas: Faust; Dinorah; Semiramide; Lucrezia Borgia; Trovatore, Traviata, Favorita; Ernani; Un Ballo; Le Prophete; L’Afriaine; Les Huguenots; Masaniello; Lucia; Rigoletto; Noxxe di Figaro; Der Freischutz; Somnambula; Martha; Lurline; Maritana; Bohemian Girl; Rose of Castille; Lily of Killarney; Don Pasquale; Puritani.” [Brisbane Courier]

      Opera singers of Richardson’s time were placed under extraordinary pressure to memorise a large number of operas and turn over their repertoire more rapidly than their contemporaries of today. It was a stressful occupation made even more intense by risk of fires from special effects in crowded theatres. Some theatrical performers over-indulged themselves in alcohol to enable them to overcome the effects of stage fright – not Albert Richardson but another female cast member of the opera leading to public incidents on stage on two or three occasions.

      William Albert also wrote two operas himself: The Maid of Aragon and Kenilworth. He may have been influenced to do this by another contemporary who appears to have also tackled the same subject matter as Kenilworth but more research needs to be done on this aspect.

      During their time in England, the Richardson family travelled all over the country. The Richardson home in Eastbourne was originally two storey –since their time, another storey has been added to it. It was the last house on the left where Upperton (sp) Gardens runs into Enys Road.

      Rudolph “Ruie” Alfonso Richardson was the only Richardson child born in England – at Eastbourne - in 1886.


      After England, Roma thinks the family returned to Adelaide. Madoline Lillian Richardson was born in 1891 in Adelaide. There does seem to be another large gap between 1886 and 1891 when no children appear to have been born. Roma said:
      “In Adelaide, William Albert Richardson conducted St Peters’ choir, organized concerts and taught singing.”

      RICHARDSON FAMILY: ADELAIDE TO NEW ZEALAND: Edith E.B. Richardson stays in Auckland

      Roma thinks the Richardsons’ next move was to New Zealand by ship where William Albert continued his musical activities including a production of the opera Mauritania both at Auckland and Dunedin. If she is correct, this contradicts William Albert Richardson assertion on his arrival in New Zealand in 1893/4 to have come straight from London. Shipping records may help clarify.

      It was not uncommon for Opera troupes to take their family on tour with them. Madame Fanny Simonsen and her husband Martin Simonsen traveled with their 11 children and could well have been the model for the Richardson family. The Simonsens were German Jews from Hamburg. They first arrived in Victoria in 1876 on board the Mariposa with one child in order to give concerts together: she sang and he was a gifted violinist – (later they gave evidence against the drunken captain of the Mariposa.)

      W.S Lyster asked them to join his opera troupe, bringing them into direct contract with William Albert Richardson who was also a member of the troupe at that time. Later when the Simonsen established their own opera company, William Albert toured with them to New Zealand. Two of the Simonsen girls married early both at age 16 and these marriages did not last.

      The marriage of Edith Ellen Beatrice Richardson to New Zealander Herbert Robert Hampton occurred in 1895. The marriage was strongly opposed by the groom’s widowed mother Mary Jane Hampton who objected to the Catholicism of the bride. Mary Jane was strongly Presbyterian being a transplanted Mancurian to New Zealand. Sadly Mary Jane severed all contact with her only son and his new wife. It is not known whether they ever reconciled before Mary Jane’s death in 1905. Interestingly Bert Hampton only converted to Catholicism on his deathbed in 1916. [The religious schism continued into the following generation when Edith’s son Herbert Ivan took an Anglican for his bride.] In 1906 the Hampton family, now increased by Herbert Ivan “ Ivan”, Horace Royale and Zoe Olga, returned to Australia, spending approximately a year and a half in Brisbane, Queensland where it is assumed they met their Richardson grandparents for the first time.


      BEFORE 1876

      There are no clear references in New Zealand newspapers to Albert being in New Zealand before 1876. There are no other known sources that place him in New Zealand during that period.


      Albert toured New Zealand from February to September 1876. There is no indication in newspaper articles on the Simonsen company whether Albert’s family – wife and 4 young children - accompanied him. They are not listed with Albert as passengers on the s.s. Arawata from Melbourne to Dunedin.

      On 29 February 1876 the s.s. Arawata left Melbourne with the Simonsen Opera Company, including Albert Richardson, on board. It arrived in Dunedin, New Zealand on 6 March. The opera company opened its Dunedin season on 11 March, with “The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein”, with Mr Albert Richardson described as a first baritone. In “Lucia di Lammermoor”, Albert played the part of Henry Ashton. “Maritana” followed. Madame Simonsen led part of the troupe (including Albert) on a brief season in Auckland in mid-March, then the season in Dunedin resumed with “Lucrezia Borgia” with Albert playing Duke Alfonso, then “Lucia di Lammermoor”. The season finished on 8 April with “The Hermit’s Bell” with Albert described as “the popular baritone, Mr Albert Richardson”.

      Simonsen’s Christchurch season started on 12 April with “Lucia di Lammermoor”, Albert again playing the part of Henry Ashton. A review of “Il Trovatore” on 20 April said that Albert was not at all successful as the Count – he was altogether too tame and his voice did not have enough power. Perhaps it was due to the misfortune of interpreting an unsuitable character.

      Albert’s next role was as Bellamy, a Sergeant of Dragoons, in “The Hermit’s Bell” which opened on 26 April, followed by “Lucrezia Borgia”,”Il Trovatore” and “Sonnambula”. In “Maritana”, reviewed by the Press on 3 May, Albert acted the part of Don Jose “fairly well” but “his voice was in no way equal to the occasion.”

      The Simonsen company travelled to Wellington on the s.s. Otago for a 24 night season commencing on 20 May with “The Hermit’s Bell”. Next was a 4-night season in Nelson, commencing 12 August. As usual, Albert Richardson and Henry Hodgson were the primi baritoni.
      Simonsen’s Auckland season at the Theatre Royal opened on 14 August with “Lucia di Lammermoor”. On 18 August, “Maritana” was performed with Albert as Don Jose. According to the Daily Southern Cross, he dressed the part “magnificently” and received an encore for his song “In happy moments”. However, his incorrect tone interfered with his success in other parts of the opera. “La Perichole” followed on the 19th.

      Martin Simonsen appeared in court on a charge of using abusive and insulting language towards Michael Raphael, the general agent of the company, at Auckland on 21 August. Albert was called as a witness. He had seen only part of the disturbance, but he heard Mr Simonsen, who was in a very excitable state, call Mr Raphael a d—liar. He also assisted in restraining Mr Simonsen from hitting the complainant with a stick. Simonsen was bound over to keep the peace for 3 months, and to pay the costs of the case.

      “The Hermit’s Bell” was performed on 25 and 26 August, with Albert again taking the part of Bellamy, a Sergeant of Dragoons. The New Zealand Herald said that Albert “acquitted himself creditably”.

      At the final performance of “La Fille de Madame Angot” on 4 September, Albert announced during an intermission that a popular season would commence the next evening with “The Grand Duchess”. “Faust” followed, with Albert taking the part of Valentine. Next was “Il Trovatore” with Albert as Count di Luna, “La Fille de Madame Angot:, “The Marriage of Figaro”, “The Hermit’s Bell”, “Norma” and “Maritana”.

      The musical part of the service at St Patrick’s Cathedral on 10 September was unusually full. Madame Simonsen, Albert Richardson and Henry Thompson of the opera company assisted.
      On 13 September a farewell supper for the Simonsen Opera Company was held at Host Avey’s Park Hotel in Auckland. After several toasts and speeches, Mr Simonsen proposed the health of Albert Richardson who, he was sorry to say, had been compelled to disconnect himself from the Company by urgent private affairs. He had endeavoured to induce Mr Richardson to remain as his talents as a musician, his thorough reliability and complete acquaintance with his business rendered him invaluable. He had never met a more complete gentleman. The chairman, Mr Stoneham, among frequent expressions of assent confirmed every statement as to Mr Richardson’s good qualities made by Mr Simonsen. The toast was drunk with musical honours.

      Mr Richardson acknowledged the toast, expressing his regret at being obliged to sever his connection with a company, with every member of which he had been on such friendly terms. He trusted to meet them again soon in Victoria, and wished them a prosperous career.

      On 19 September the Evening Post noted that Albert had arrived in Wellington on his way back to Melbourne, his engagement with Mr Simonsen having expired. Mr Richardson was to rejoin the company in Melbourne in November. The Evening Post also noted that Mr Raphael, Simonsen’s agent, had been unable to arrange a Wellington season so the opera company was to proceed from Nelson to Christchurch.

      The cast of Simonsen’s production of “Faust” for 17 October in Christchurch included Albert as Valentine. This is odd, as Albert‘s had left the company in September after its Auckland season. The advertisement in the Press for “Faust” listed Mr M. L. Raphael as its agent – also odd as his connection with the company was apparently at an end at the time of Martin Simonsen’s court case in Auckland in August.

      1877 – 1892

      There is no solid evidence that Albert was in New Zealand between 1876 and 1893. A “Mr. Richardson” played the part of Danier in Simonsen’s opera “Girofle Girofla!” at venues throughout New Zealand between November 1882 and March 1883. Some of these performances also featured “Signor Riccardi”, likely to be Tom Riccardi. The Simonsen troupe also played 2 cricket matches during their 1882/1883 tour – Mr Richardson was not much of a batsman. Bowling figures were not recorded.


      In Dunedin in early April 1893, Albert announced his arrival from London and started advertising as a teacher of singing and voice production, under the name of Mr Albert Richardson (Signor Alberto Riccardi of the London Music Profession). He sought pupils in voice production and artistic singing. Albert described himself as a professor of the art of singing. He gave impressive credentials, both as an opera singer in England and Australia and as a pupil of well-known music teachers. The earlier advertisements were varied, each showcasing particular facets or achievements of Albert’s singing career. Albert claimed to be qualified as an instructor in Italian and English singing. He received pupils at his rooms at the Octagon. Albert continued advertising for pupils until August and possibly later.

      Albert’s wife Mathilde and daughter Beatrice were with him in Dunedin – so was Vincent, at least by June 1894, when he performed in “Maritana”.

      In early May, Albert announced his intention to give a series of students’ grand operatic concerts for the encouragement and introduction of talent. Pupils would be trained for the concert and operatic stage at his rooms at the Octagon. About this time, Mathilda and Beatrice were teaching pianoforte at View Street, Moray Place.

      In July Albert notified meetings of a new musical society, described as musical theory, sight singing and choral society. The meetings were at Albert’s residence at View street, Moray place. Members’ fees were ten shillings and sixpence, to be paid quarterly in advance.

      In early September Albert announced his first Grand Operatic Concert in Dunedin, to be performed on 25 October in the Garrison Hall. A magnificent programme was said to be in rehearsal, comprising selections from a range of operas. Some of them had been performed by the Simonsen company in 1876 on Albert’s previous visit to New Zealand. The programme included duets by Albert, and a solo and duets (not with Albert) by Beatrice. Albert was the conductor, and the accompanists were Albert and his wife.

      The concert was not well attended, due to some people with bookings being caught up in a shipping delay. The concert received a generally favourable review from the Otago Daily Times. Beatrice was said to have a nice soprano voice, but rather thin in quality. Albert’s duets were greatly enjoyed, the performers receiving a recall for the second one. The duet “Oh, Maritana” was tastefully sung by Miss Richardson and Mr Blenkinsopp. The duet “My sufferings and sorrows” by Miss Richardson and W. Woods was heartily appreciated.

      Albert placed a notice in the paper thanking patrons for attending, and announced that, in response to numerous requests, he would continue the series of “high-class concerts for the elevation of musical taste and the introduction of talent”. He also responded to requests, by people who missed the concert, to repeat it. He declined to do so, but stated that he would instead include several pieces from it in his second concert.


      Albert resumed taking pupils in Dunedin in January 1894. He offered to prepare students for the concert stage, as well as giving private lessons in voice production, development and artistic singing. Lessons were at his home at View Street, Moray place. Also in January, Mr W. Lillicrap advertised in the Southland Times for music pupils, his credentials were that he had been a pupil of Albert Richardson.

      In early February Albert advised that he would shortly give his second Grand Operatic Concert at the Garrison Hall, comprising selections from a number of operas.

      In early March he announced the first chorus rehearsals for a production of the opera “Maritana”. He also sought a limited number of pupils for the operatic stage, to appear in operas shortly to be produced. By early May, rehearsals were progressing satisfactorily. The probable cast included Beatrice Richardson, and at the final performance Albert was to take the part of Don Jose – a character in which he had achieved much success in Australia with the Lyster Opera Company. The Otago Daily Times noted that Albert had been the first to produce a grand opera with amateurs in character in Melbourne, with “Maritana” being performed by members of his operatic club.

      “Maritana” opened on 20 June at the Princess Theatre, for a four night season. Beatrice played the principal role of Maritana, and Albert conducted. On the second and fourth night, Vincent Richardson played the part of the King of Spain.

      The Otago Daily Times review of the opening night noted that attendance at the opera was “decidedly satisfactory” given the competition from a series of concerts on the same week. The opera had its amusing points, but there were also very many creditable points about it. The orchestra and chorus preformed well. With more power, Beatrice would make a good Maritana, but she conscientiously and earnestly strove for success, and gave a performance which was quite commendable, as far as her physical attributes would permit. She sang sweetly, and received (but declined) one encore.

      The review of the second performance noted the capital attendance, and that the audience was appreciative, with frequent and spontaneous applause throughout the evening. Blemishes common in amateur productions were conspicuous by their rarity.

      The review of the third night gave it a warm commendation. Beatrice, in the title role, acted with grace and abandon, while her singing was likewise of a satisfactory character.
      In mid-August, the Otago Daily Times reported that Albert was said to be engaged on the score of a new grand opera to be entitled “The Maid of Arragon”.

      However, by September Albert was in Christchurch, and had commenced teaching at Belmont terrace, Oxford terrace.

      On 25 September Albert gave public notice that he was not Signor T. Riccardi of Sydney, who had appeared in New Zealand in “Pinafore”. “Mr Richardson has been known for the last ten years in London as Signor Alberto Riccardi, and under that name has sung at the Royal Albert Hall, Crystal Palace and Her Majesty’s Theatre concerts, London. Mr Albert Richardson has only appeared in Grand Opera.”

      By mid-October Albert was in Auckland, offering tuition in voice production and artistic singing, at 303 Victoria Arcade. By mid-November he was receiving pupils at his private residence at “Tichmount”, Wellesley-street East. He used the name Signor Alberto Romani, rather than Riccardi – possibly to avoid confusion with T. Riccardi, also an opera singer.


      In February 1895, rehearsals started for “Maritana”. The Auckland Star noted that Mr Richardson had produced this and other operas in London, Melbourne and Dunedin. Albert advertised for principal and chorus, also for people interested in joining his musical theory, sight-singing and choral society (cost - ten shillings a quarter, in advance).

      In March, Albert announced the inauguration in Auckland of a series of Grand Operatic Concerts, on the same scale as his concerts over the previous 15 years at Melbourne, Adelaide etc.
      By April, the “Maritana” rehearsals were progressing satisfactorily. There were to be 2 full casts of principals. Beatrice Richardson and Madame Florence Anderson were cast as Maritana, and Vincent Richardson and A. Horton Busby as Don Jose. The opera was to be produced at the Opera House on 1 July and the rest of that week.

      In June, the Observer noted that Miss Beatrice Richardson, who earned golden opinions of her impersonation of Maritana in Dunedin and Melbourne, would make her debut in grand opera in Auckland.

      The Evening Star review of the opening night considered the production “fairly successful”, but was not appreciated as much as it might have been, as “Maritana” had been staged frequently by travelling companies with the best singers seen in Auckland. Mr Richardson conducted the orchestra ably, and Beatrice performed well, with one of her songs being encored. She “spoke her words naturally and distinctly, and did not appear to be so much affected with nervousness as some of the others did”.

      The review of the second night noted that the production, by a new cast of amateurs, showed much improvement on the opening night. The acting was not as good, but the music was on the whole a great deal better. Vincent Richardson as Don Jose was more successful with his singing, in which he did excellently, than his acting. On the whole he made an interpretation of the part of Don Jose that was a feature of the performance.

      The third night’s performance was immeasurably better than the previous two. There was another large attendance. Beatrice Richardson, in the title role, made a very successful and acceptable interpretation.

      The Observer considered that the production of “Maritana” by amateurs was very much to Mr Richardson’s credit, and had positive comments on Beatrice and Vincent. The title role alternated between Beatrice Richardson and Florence Anderson, both of whom were very successful. It seemed that there had been a deliberate and organised attempt to discredit the show, but from a musical point of view, there was much in it to enjoy.

      On 8 July, Albert announced that “by unanimous request” there would be farewell performances on 9 and 10 July. However, these performances were postponed due to Albert’s indisposition. Later that week, Albert announced that “The Bohemian Girl” was in rehearsal and that “Maritana” would be re-staged with new principals and an augmented chorus.

      “Maritana” was re-scheduled for 10 and 12 August, and then two Grand Final Performances on 30 and 31 August. He cast included Beatrice (on the 31st), Vincent (both nights), and also Mr Hampton (both nights) as the Marquis in his first appearance on stage.

      The Auckland Star reported that the final performance was well attended, the opera was well produced throughout, with the singing and acting being very creditable. The Observer gave a more detailed review. The two final performances played to large and enthusiastic audiences.

      “On Saturday night, Miss Beatrice Richardson, as Maritana, was in splendid voice, and achieved a brilliant success, her artistic singing and vivacious acting being the feature of the performance. Mr Vincent Richardson, as Don Jose, and Mr Archie Kent, as Don Caesar, were also heard at their best, and, by their splendid performances, contributed in no small degree to the success of the opera ”. Also: “Mr Hampton as the Marquis, and Mr W. H. Tucker [should read W. H. Fricker - Herbert Robert Hampton's first cousin, who probably facilitated the meeting of Edith Richardson and Hampton by getting him into the opera company] as the Alcade, were all thoroughly successful in their respective roles; and lastly Mr Albert Richardson conducted throughout with conspicuous ability. ... Altogether, Mr Richardson may be heartily congratulated on the entire success of his arduous undertaking, and the very substantial patronage accorded during the eight performances of Maritana is a proof that the musical public of Auckland were highly pleased with what they saw and heard.”

      On 10 September he announced, with regret, that the rehearsal and social for “The Bohemian Girl” was postponed until next week, in consequence of serious illness in his family. On 21 September, the Observer noted the resumption of rehearsals the following week, and indicated that “The Bohemian Girl” would, in all probability, be followed by “Maid of Arragon”, the music of which was composed by Mr Richardson in London several years earlier. Several airs from it had already been sung in London and Melbourne by eminent artists, and had achieved great popularity. The Observer also noted the probability of Beatrice Richardson appearing shortly at the Melbourne Exhibition Concerts, as she had recently received a very lucrative offer of engagement from one of the leading impresarios in that city.

      Albert continued to advertise his musical theory and sight singing classes in September, held at his residence in Wellesley-street East. The last advertisement was on 28 September.

      The Sydney Morning Herald of 25 Jan 1896 reported:
      'Mr. Albert Richardson, who in days gone by was the principal of Lyster's Opera Company, since which time he has appeared with leading English opera companies, has returned to Sydney with the object of settling here as a teacher. Mr. Richardson studied at the Milan Conservatorium, where he took the name of Signor Alberto Ricardi, by which he was subsequently known, and he also studied his art under Sims Reeves, Manuel Garcia, Gaetano Nava, Sir Michael Costa, and other famous teachers.'

      His departure was also noted in the Auckland Star in February 1896, noting that Albert had left Auckland, his home for the last 12 months or so, to pursue his career as a teacher of singing in Sydney. There is no mention of “The Bohemian Girl” or “Maid of Arragon” being performed, or any reason for the move. Perhaps the serious family illness was a factor.


      There is no known evidence of Albert returning to New Zealand after 1895. His legacy continued through his pupils. From June to October 1896, a Miss Phillips advertised in the Ohinemuri Gazette for pupils for singing and voice production lessons. Her credentials included being a past pupil of Signor Alberto Riccardi.


      Roma thinks that after New Zealand, the rest of the Richardson family returned to Melbourne where their home was situated in Collins Street, near Spring Street. [This could be a mistaken reference to 75 Spring Street which was probably near the corner of Collins Street where the family had lived earlier but she may well be correct.]

      Albert Vincent Richardson told Roma that William Albert Richardson owned part of Queens Walk which was demolished in order to build the original Melbourne City Square (not Federation Square). If true, this may be verified by rate books.

      He also told her that William Albert Richardson had also owned a large tract of Yarra River frontage at Hawthorn. This land is prime real estate today. Again, this has not been proved.
      It is possible William Albert had amassed a large land property portfolio based in Melbourne. His mentor, WS Lyster, had also done extremely well for himself, investing in land and perhaps he had influenced William Albert in this regard. The name of Lyster’s house Narre Worron is commemorated in the suburb of Narre Warren in Melbourne today and Lysterfield was named for him as well.

      However the land boom of the 1880s which created “Marvellous Melbourne” as the decade was christened by Australian historian Michael Cannon was thereafter followed by the financial crash of the 1890s.

      In about 1898 William Albert, Mathilde and some of their children settled in Brisbane.

      William Albert subsequently confided to his son Albert Vincent that he had made a poor investment in Sydney, NSW and lost money on this deal. He was never able to muster sufficient funds to leave Brisbane and return to Melbourne as Albert Vincent urged him to do.

      There seems to be an increasing sense of desperation in the classifieds advertising William Albert’s services as a singing teacher – seeking to impress by dropping the names of his titled English clients suggests business might have been slow in what must surely have been a cultural backwater compared to Sydney or Melbourne.

      Roma comments but is probably paraphrasing Muriel (daughter of Rudolph):

      “The family all had stacks of personality, humour, charm and musical talent. Ruie [Rudolph] had a baritone voice and knew the whole of the opera Maritania. Edith was a pianist and a soprano. Milly was a pianist and a soprano. Of the family, Milly appeared to have had the least ability to sing but her father who was devoted to her persevered in her training and she developed a pleasing voice and sometimes sang in concerts.”
      In Brisbane, the family lived at
      - Wickham Terrace where William Albert gave lessons to students;
      - The Mansions near Parliament House
      - Macintyre Street, Wooloowin
      - Beaconsfield Terrace
      - Brunswick Street New Haven (later demolished for office blocks)
      - 179 Vulture Street South Brisbane
      - 15 Deighton Road, South Brisbane (with Millicent only after her brothers had all left.)

      In Queensland, William Albert Richardson’s activities were based around music, teaching singing, composing, conducting choirs, producing operas and organising charity concerts as he was always concerned to develop local talent. He was also music journalist for the Brisbane Courier Mail.
      Ruie’s side of the family had the Mauritania score and Milly had a book of songs composed by her father.

      Again Roma comments:
      “William Albert Richardson had loads of charm and confidence, a fine baritone singing voice and a beautiful speaking voice. He lived for music but did not have practical skills. He did not set great value in money but spent it freely.”

      It is likely that William and Mathilde suffered at least two tragedies in their lives: the premature deaths of daughters, Florence Matilda and Madoline Lillian.

      The circumstances of where and when Florence Matilda died are not yet known. The story of Madoline Lillian is particularly tragic. In 1905 14 year old Madoline Lillian died in the Goodna asylum, Queensland of pneumonia and epilepsy. Her parents were listed as unknown on her death certificate. She was buried in the hospital grounds but her grave site is most likely to have been disturbed and relocated. It is likely that the medical file of her admission and subsequent treatments is still in existence.


      Edith Ellen Beatrice was widowed early in 1916 and remarried Alfred George Dean Hooper in 1923. Edith was particularly close to her granddaughter Patti (Elaine Magnusson by her daughter Zoe) and grandchildren Margaret and Leigh (by her son Horace).

      Albert Vincent remodelled the garden in his Warrigal Road home based on his idealized memories of Eastbourne. He is buried with his wife in Box Hill Cemetery close to the grave of his baby daughter Audrey and surrounding by relatives from his wife’s side of the family.

      Charles Leo was in the military in South Africa (where he married Maud Peel) and Canada (where his 3 children were born), then practised as an accountant in Canada. The family moved to California, USA, where he and Maud died.

      Harold’s wife Alice Norah died in 1927 and he married Veronica “Vera” Healy in 1928. There was a significant age difference between Harold Wilfred and his second wife and another son and two daughters were born. It is not known whether there was any contact with the children from the second marriage after Harold’s death.

      Millicent Hespera never married but lived with and took good care of her parents until they died and her own eyesight failed her. She worked as a typist and also as a teacher in Brisbane.

      Rudolph Alphonso had a very large family in Brisbane and their descendants are mainly based there today with some exceptions.

      Mathilde died on 17 Feb 1926 at Lady Lamington Hospital, Brisbane. William Albert died on 11 Aug 1927 at his home at Deighton Road, Dutton Park, Brisbane. They are buried together at Dutton Park Cemetery in Brisbane.

      “A good marriage and a close-knit family” seems to sum up William Albert Richardson’s situation: -
      “Theatrical people had lives very different from other people. They moved constantly, often over vast distances and from country to country. Even when they were settled, they worked at night and slept in the day – hours not conducive to a stable family life with anyone other than fellow actors. There were enormous hazards in this life. Theatre history is littered with suicides in lonely rooms, loss at sea, miscarriages, still births, infant deaths, divorces, infidelities. A good marriage and a close-knit family was the best guard against these dangers….These family maps overlap the geographical ones, adjusting themselves to the changes brought by the serendipity of adventure, the lure of gold, large-scale political movements and ambitions, and improvements in transport and communications.”

      From Desley Deacon, Location! Location! Location! Mind maps and theatrical circuits in Australian transnational history. Presidential Address to the Australian Historical Association Conference July 2008.

  • Sources 
    1. [S802] TRE099 Family tree (gedcom) - Ward database 17 May 2013 (Karel Saint), TRE099.

    2. [S769] BIR097 Birth Richardson, William Albert, BIR097.

    3. [S3167] BIR Birth Richardson, William Albert.

    4. [S3166] BAP Christening Richardson, William Albert.

    5. [S3168] BAP Christening Richardson, William Albert.

    6. [S117] DTH015 Death Richardson, William Albert, DTH015.

    7. [S1155] DTH202 Death Richardson, William Albert, DTH202.

    8. [S770] BUR Australia Cemetery Index 1808-2007 ancestry.com, William Albert Richardson.

    9. [S673] MAR090 Marriage Richardson, William and Hirst, Ellen, MAR090.

    10. [S677] MAR092 Marriage Hirst, Ellen, MAR092.

    11. [S711] MAR113 Marriage Richardson, William and Hirst, Ellen, MAR113.

    12. [S791] MAR142 Marriage Richardson, William and Hirst, Ellen, MAR142.

    13. [S1382] MAR226 Marriage Hirst, Ellen and Richardson, William, MAR226.

    14. [S2426] MAR Marriage Richardson, Mr and Hirst, Miss, marriage notice for Mr Richardson and Miss Hirst; 30 July 1836; page 5; http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.

    15. [S196] MAR038 Marriage Richardson, William Albert and Mackareth, Mathilde, MAR038.

    16. [S722] MAR120 Marriage Richardson, William Albert and Mackereth, Mathilda, MAR120.

    17. [S1305] MAR134 Marriage Richardson, William Albert and Mackereth, Mathilda, MAR134.

    18. [S3501] TRE Family tree - Lindsay Carthew Family Tree on ancestry.com accessed 23 Aug 2016.