Richards, G. H. (George Henry)

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Epithet: Admiral

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001129.0x00024e

George Henry Richards was born ca. 1819 in Cornwall. In 1832, he entered the Royal Navy, serving first in the West Indies and then on a survey expedition to the Pacific in HMS Sulphur under Frederick William Beechey, who was later replaced by Edward Belcher. While on the Pacific Station, Richards participated in the First China War, returning to England in 1841 due to illness. Promoted lieutenant in 1842, he was assigned to the Navy's survey of the Falkland Islands, later advancing to the rank of commander in 1845 following hostilities with the Republic of Buenos Aires (Argentina). Between 1847 and 1851, he served as second captain in a survey of the coasts of New Zealand.

In 1852, Richards was appointed commander of HMS Assistance on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1852-1854 (leader Sir Edward Belcher), sent by the Admiralty to search for Sir John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition in the regions of Wellington Channel and Melville Island. Between April and July 1853, Richards led a sledge party west, discovering the north coasts of Sherard Osborn, Helena and Cameron islands before reaching the east coast of Sabine Peninsula, Melville Island. Continuing around the north and west coasts of the peninsula, he crossed Melville Island to visit HMS Resolute and HMS Intrepid at Dealy Island. On the return journey, he travelled along the east coast of Melville Island, around the north coast of Cameron Island and through the strait between Bathurst Island and Helena and Sherard Osborn islands. On his return to England the following year, Richards was promoted captain.

In 1856, Richards took command of the survey vessel HMS Plumper with instructions to conduct a detailed survey of the waters between Vancouver Island and the American mainland, to help determine the location of the international boundary through the San Juan Islands. Between 1860 and 1862, Richards conducted a survey of the coasts of Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland of British Columbia in the replacement vessel HMS Hecate . His surveys formed the basis for the The Vancouver Island Pilot published in two editions in 1861 and 1863 by the Hydrographic Office.

On his return to England in 1864, Richards was appointed Hydrographer of the Navy, advancing to the rank of rear admiral in 1870. Retiring in 1874, Richards became managing director of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, which, under his direction, laid thousands of miles of submarine telegraph cables. He continued to take an active interest in Arctic exploration, serving on an Admiralty committee, which advised on preparations for the British Arctic expedition, 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares). A fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Geographical Society, he was knighted in 1877, attaining the rank of admiral in 1884. He died on 14 November 1896 at Bath.

From the guide to the Sir George Richards collection, 1853-1873, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn William Elliott collection, 1854 Scott Polar Research Institute
creatorOf Barse, W. H., Captain. A.V. Knickerbocker. Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee County Federated Library System
referencedIn Vol. VIII. (11. If. 611). 1. "Sir Edward Belcher's expedition" of 1852-54. By far the longest section; it contains very outspoken accounts of the disagreements between Sir E. Belcher and the officers under him. Besides Belcher himself and Lieut. (Com..., 1852-1873 British Library
referencedIn Vol. X. (IV. ff. 337). 1. "I Captain Sherard Osborn, C.B. Private Letters." The first six letters (ff. 4-39) form a sort of journal of the expedition under Sir E. Belcher (see above, Add. 35,307, art. 1); the remainder are dated 21 Jan. 1859-19 Apr. ..., 1859-1877 British Library
referencedIn Edward Belcher collection, 1827-1854 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn David Lyall collection, 1836-1891 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn George Mecham collection, 1851-1854 Scott Polar Research Institute
creatorOf Sir George Richards collection, 1853-1873 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Papers of Professor Henry William Wilder Foote and Family, 1714-1959 Andover-Harvard Theological Library
referencedIn Sir George Richards collection, 1853-1873 Scott Polar Research Institute
creatorOf Richards, G. H. (George Henry). Extract from the journal of Captain Richards, H.M.S. Hecate. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hamilton Library
creatorOf Richards, George Henry, Sir, 1820-1896. [George Henry Richards miscellanea]. University of British Columbia Library
referencedIn Papers of the Howe-Richards family, 1840-1950. Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Assistance (Ship) corporateBody
associatedWith Back George 1796-1878 person
associatedWith Belcher, Edward person
associatedWith British Naval Franklin Search Expedition Canada Arctic Archipelago 1852-1854 corporateBody
associatedWith Cracroft Sophia 1816-1892 person
associatedWith Elliott, William person
associatedWith Franklin Jane 1792-1875 person
associatedWith Franklin John 1786-1847 person
associatedWith George Frederick Mecham person
correspondedWith Howe family. family
associatedWith John Powles Cheyne person
associatedWith Lyall, David person
associatedWith Lyall David 1817-1895 person
associatedWith McClintock Francis Leopold 1819-1907 person
associatedWith Mecham George Frederick 1828-1858 person
associatedWith Nares George Strong 1831-1915 person
associatedWith Osborn Sherard 1822-1875 person
associatedWith Sir George Henry Richards person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Yedo, Japan
Japan, Asia
Arctic regions Discovery and exploration
Hankow, Hupeh, China
Northwest Passage


Birth 1819-01-13

Death 1896-11-14





Ark ID: w6c56tqk

SNAC ID: 47366159