LAST MODIFIED Thursday 6 June 2019 9:34

Eliza and Henry Richards

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "Eliza and Henry Richards", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 10 April 2020


Violinist, theatre orchestra leader

Born UK, c.1816/17
Arrived Melbourne, VIC, by April 1844
Arrived Adelaide, SA, 11 July 1847 (per Sister, from Melbourne and Portland)
Died Adelaide, SA, 30 April 1850, aged 34 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


Theatrical vocalist, ? mezzo soprano

Active Adelaide, SA, ? until end of November 1850 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


Who were Henry and Eliza Richards? Where did they come from before their arrival in Tasmania, apparently sometime in 1842 or early 1843? And what happened to Eliza and her surviving children after last heard of in Adelaide in 1850?

According to his death certificate, Henry Richards, age 34 years, musician, died of consumption at Adelaide on 30 April 1850. The Maitland Mercury later misidentified him as Henry Augustus L. Richards.

In the hope that somebody might be able to fill in some of the gaps, here is their story as I've recovered it so far ...


[Advertisement], Launceston Examiner (29 March 1843), 5

GRAND CONCERT. Under distinguished patronage. - MR. and MRS. BUSHELLE, with MR. HENRI ANDERSON (student of the Royal Academy of Music, London) begs to announce that they purpose holding their first CONCERT OF VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC, at the new concert rooms, (opposite the court-house) Patterson-street, which have been elegantly fitted up, on THURSDAY, the 30th March. Vocal performers - Mrs. Bushelle, Mrs. Richards, Mr. Turner, Mr. Bushelle, and several amateurs. Instrumental performers - Mr. Kowarzik, leader and conductor of the orchestra; grand pianoforte, Mr. Anderson; Mr. Megson, Mr. Richards, Mr. Bishop, Mr. M'Donald, Mr. Beckford, and (by permission of Colonel Cumberland) the orchestra will be strengthened by the excellent band of H. M. 96th regiment...

"MRS. NAIRNE'S ORATORIO", Launceston Examiner (14 June 1843), 3

... The performance of Mrs. Richards, as a professional singer, is more open to criticism: but:
"It is a meaner part of sense
To find a fault than taste an excellence."

She possesses a sweet voice, of considerable compass: it however lacks that mellow richness which greater command and more careful practice would produce: she sings correctly, and perhaps our readers will understand us when we say, that she hops rather than glides into each note: her execution of "He was cut off" was loudly applauded. In a few words, we may state that the instrumental performance was unexceptionable, and the vocal highly creditable.

"ORATORIO", Launceston Advertiser (15 June 1843), 3 

The attendance at Mrs. Nairne's Oratorio was very respectable, but the same remark is scarcely applicable to parts of the performances. We can only speak in terms of special praise of Mrs. Richard's recitative "He was cut off," and air "But thou didst not leave," and Mr. Turner's solo, "Why do the nations." The latter failed at Mr. Bushelle's concerts, principally by comparison. He shone as a star at this Oratorio, but Mr. Bushelle put him out altogether. The same applies to Mrs. Richards, compared with Mrs. Bushelle. The chorusses were generally good, and gave more satisfaction than the solos. The programme was unfortunately very similar to Mr. Bushelle's, and those who had not forgotten his performances, could scarcely be pleased with a pigmy imitation. The odds were at least Niagara Falls to the Cataract, against their succeeding ...

[Advertisement], The Cornwall Chronicle (23 September 1843), 3

[Advertisement], Launceston Examiner (16 November 1843), 3

[2 advertisements], The Teetotal Advocate (25 November 1843), 2 

THEATRE ROYAL OLYMPIC ... WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29th, 1843 ... After the Drama, Master John Cameron, who was received with such universal approbation on the night of Mrs. Cameron's Benefit, will sing, for this night only Paddy's Wedding (in character.) A Favorite Song, Mrs. Richards ...

In the matter of the insolvency of Henry Richards, of Launceston, in Van Diemen's Land, Musician. To the Creditors of the above-named insolvent or their agents. WHEREAS, I, the above-named Henry Richards, did this day present a petition, with schedules thereunto attached, to Wm. Gardner Sams, Esq., a Commissioner for insolvent estates for Launceston, praying amongst other things to be declared insolvent under the provisions of an act of this island, entituled An Act to make provision for the more effectual distribution of insolvent Estates, and the said petition having come on to be heard before the said Commissioner, the said Henry Richards was declared insolvent and John Atkinson, Esq., of Launceston, was thereupon appointed provisional assignee of the estate and effects of the said insolvent; and Wednesday the 6th day of December, instant, at the Court House in Launceston, at ten o'clock in the forenoon, was appointed for the first meeting of the creditors, proof of debts, the election of a permanent assignee, and further proceeding with the said insolvency. Dated this 25th day of November, 1843. HENRY RICHARDS, (In person.)

"INSOLVENT COURT, Wednesday, January 31", Launceston Examiner (3 February 1844), 4 

In re Henry Richards. - Insolvent did not appear, and the meeting was adjourned to 21st February.

[Advertisement], Launceston Examiner (14 February 1844), 2 

In the matter of the insolvency of Henry Richards, of Launceston, Van Diemen's Land, musician. To the creditors of the above-named insolvent, or their agents. WHEREAS an adjourned meeting of the creditors the above-named insolvent on discharge was held at the court house, Launceston, on the 31st day of January, which meeting the commissioner has adjourned to Wednesday, the twenty-first day of February next, at the same time and place. - Dated this ninth day of February, 1844. HENRY RICHARDS, in person.

[Advertisement], Port Philip Gazette (6 April 1844), 3 

EASTER MONDAY ... MR. KNOWLES has much pleasure in announcing that MRS. RICHARDS will make her second appearance before the Melbourne public, and sing two new and highly popular songs. In the course of the evening an entirely new set of Irish Quadrilles and Gallopades, arranged expressly for this occasion by MR. RICHARDS, will be performed by the Orchestra; the Quadrilles, together with the accompaniments to Mrs. Richards' songs will be conducted by Mr. Richards ... A CONCERT consisting of the following songs, duets, &c., &c. The popular ballad, Oh give me but my Arab Steed, by MRS. RICHARDS ... The famous Irish melody, (also for the first time) "Kathleen Mavourneen" BY MRS. RICHARDS ...

THE THEATRE. MONDAY NIGHT", Port Philip Gazette (10 April 1844), 2 

... The songs that followed were well-selected, and served to introduce the second appearance of Mrs. Richards in "Oh give me but my Axab steed," a very beautiful melody (by Bishop); the ballad is familiar to most persons, and would have been admirably sung but for the absence of animation and expression, without which the fine organ of this lady loses its principal charm ... Mrs. Knowles in the "Mountain Maid," gave a good picture of that sprightliness and animation in which the new cantatrice is so deficient. Kathleen Mavournnen," one of Lover's most popular and touching ballads, unequalled in plaintive melody but but by its answer of "Dermot Asthore," by the same author, was given by Mrs. Richards in a style which evinced the power and rather extensive scale of her voice, through which a peculiar vein of sweetness and pathos run; but in this we have also to regret the absence of that expression and tendresse which heighten the beauties of the ballad, and impart such a witchery to this style of music. Mrs. Knowles in Bishop's "Tell me, my heart," was, as usual, more than successful ...

"THE THEATRE", Port Philip Gazette (21 September 1844), 2 

... Mrs. Knowles was in good voice. The orchestra was execrable; Richards and his assistant musicians should be re-engaged ...

"CONCERT", Port Philip Gazette (28 September 1844), 2 

Mr. Richards, late leader of the theatrical orchestra, gave a concert at the Mechanics' Institution on Wednesday evening last. From want of sufficient announcement many parties were ignorant of the amusement until it was over. The instrumental portion of the concert was very fair; the two overtures were and deserved to be encored. We cannot speak so favorably of the vocal department. Di piacer is a composition adopted [sic] only to the most practised and flexible voice. "When time hath bereft thee," was bereft of both time and tune in the mouth of the singer. There were about sixty people present, or about £12 in the room. Mr. Richards will doubtless profit by the experience this concert has given him; his next attempt will doubtless be more successful.

"THE CONCERT", Geelong Advertiser (17 October 1844), 2 

The visit of Mr. and Mrs. Richards to Geelong, has somewhat disspersed [sic] the dullness which usually prevails at this season; and the concert given by them on Monday evening was taken advantage of by a number of our citizens (for the country residents are too busy gathering in their fleecy harvest to have any time for recreation.) The difficulties which attend the attempt to give a really good concert in a remote township, where no professional assistance is obtainable, must be very great; and even if there were grounds for dissatisfaction we should be disposed to look upon them leniently. We do not consider ourselves competent to give a detailed, scientific critique on the many difficult pieces performed; but as a whole the manner by which they were executed was creditable, and in many ways effective and tasteful. The room in which the concert was held was certainly the most ill-adapted for the purpose that could possibly be conceived - a rickety wooden building festooned with boughs - which absorbed the sound, if we may use such an expression. To be sure the power and compass of Mrs. Richards' voice was sufficient to overcome the disadvantage, but not so with Mr. Richards and the amateurs, whose voices were comparatively lost. The audience was not so numerous as might have been wished ...

"MRS. RICHARDS", Geelong Advertiser (21 October 1844), 2 

We beg to direct the attention of our readers to the advertisement announcing the holding of a Concert on Tuesday evening for the benefit of the above named accomplished lady. The circumstances under which she has been left in Geelong with her infant child, separated from the rest of her children in Melbourne, are of a very distressing nature, and present strong claims upon the public sympathy and support ...

"ST. ANDREW'S SOCIETY", Port Philip Gazette (4 December 1844), 2

The annual dinner of the St. Andrew's Society was held on Friday last, in the hall or the Mechanics' Institution ... A select band was in attendance and the elevation upon which the Council hold their meetings was turned into an orchestra upon the occasion ... Messrs. P ---, and S ---, and S ---, amateurs, accompanied by Mr. Clarke on the piano, singing "God save the Queen," and "Rule Britannia," the beautiful and correct execution of which being equally admired and applauded, and the band, under the very able management of Mr. Richard's, performing the "Duke of York's March." ...

[Advertisement], Geelong Advertiser (25 January 1845), 3 

ALBERT THEATRE. CORIO-STREET, GEELONG. SATURDAY EVENING, JANUARY 25, 1845 ... A Musical Interlude COMPRISING Song ... Mrs. Richards; Hornpipe ... Mr. Jacobs; Song ... Mr. Boyd; Song ... Mrs. Richards ... The Orchestra will be conducted by Mr. Richards, assisted by Messrs. Wilkins, Easman, &c., &c ...

[Advertisement], Geelong Advertiser and Squatters' Advocate (6 May 1846), 3 

A CARD. HENRY RICHARDS begs to acquaint Parents and others residing in Geelong, that his terms for Tuition in Music and Drawing are as follow, viz. Thorough Bass and arranging. per quarter half payable in advance, 2 0 0; Violin, per ditto ... 3 0 0; Drawing, Flower Painting, &c., per ditto, 2 6 0; South Geelong, April, 7, 1845.

"THE QUEENS THEATRE", Port Philip Gazette and Settler's Journal (30 December 1846), 2 

... [of] Mrs. Richards as a vocalist, we can say little for at present. The song she sung on Monday evening was evidently beyond the compass of her voice; - she may improve. Mr Hambleton's song "The Unfortunate Man" was well executed; and if the third encore was an extemporaneous effusion, it was a successful hit. The orchestra consume so much time in doing little, and that little occurs so unfrequently, that the public have little opportunity of judging of their talents.

"QUEEN'S THEATRE", Port Philip Gazette and Settler's Journal (9 January 1847), 2

... Mrs. Richards as a songstress is improving considerably; her "Land of the West," though not so well executed as we have beard it before is tolerable, and if she was accompanied in a proper manner by the Orchestra her singing would be more effective ...

"Shipping Intelligence", South Australian (16 July 1847), 2 

"LOCAL INTELLIGENCE", South Australian Register (28 August 1847), 2 

Mr. Hall's benefit came off on Thursday night, in the New Queen's Theatre, and was in perfect unison with all those wretched theatrical essays to which we have we lately adverted ... The song by Mrs. Richards was good, but we would earnestly advise our fair entertainer, for mercy's sake, to throw some at attitudinal grace into her performances. Mrs. Oliffe gave a good "smile-illustrated" song, as usual ...

"LOCAL INTELLIGENCE", South Australian Register (1 December 1847), 2 

The Royal Adelaide Theatre was reopened on Monday night last, under the auspices of Mr. Brewer, of the "Bush Club House," and the Stage Management of Mr. Jacobs, under rather favourable circumstances; the performers and musicians being principally the malcontents from Coppin's. Since we last visited this Theatre, considerable improvements have been made, both as respects its ornamental decorations and scenery; and with some additions in the latter, which we understand are in progress, it will be pronounced a very neat little place of amusement. A well-filled orchestra, under the leadership of Mr. Richards (late of the Queen's Theatre), is not inferior to any theatrical band we have heard in the colony.

[Advertisement], South Australian Register (11 December 1847), 1 

Mr. Richards's Concert. To the Editors of the South Australian Register. GENTLEMEN.- Although Mr. Richards has taken the liberty to use the term Choral Society, in the announcement of his concert on Tuesday next, I must beg to state that no sanction of the kind has ever been obtained, or even solicited from the Committee, therefore, be it understood, that the Choral Society (as a body) has nothing to do with the performance. I am, Gentlemen, Your obedient servant M. FOOKS. Adelaide Bazaar, Dec. 10, 1847.

[Advertisement], South Australian (14 December 1847), 2 

CONCERT. TO THE EDITOR OF THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN. SIR - Perceiving an advertisement in the Register of Saturday last, relative to the Concert for this evening, which is calculated to prove detrimental to my interest, I beg to give the following explanation: - Having solicited the assistance of several members of the Choral Society, at their meeting of last Friday week, who kindly consented to give their services for two Glees, I considered this assent on the part of the members an authority to use the name of the above Society. I am, Sir, Yours, &c, &c, HY. RICHARDS. The Concert will take place at the Music Saloon, this evening, at 8 o'clock. Adelaide, Dec. 14, 1847

[Advertisement], South Australian Gazette and Mining Journal (15 February 1849), 2 

NEW QUEEN'S THEATRE, LIGHT-SQUARE. FOR THE BENEFIT OF MISS LAZAR, THIS EVENING (Thursday), February 15th ... The entertainments will commence with Rossini's opera ... CINDERELLA; or, The Fairy and the Glass Slipper, For which purpose the orchestra will be considerably augmented and LED BY MR. LEE ... Scenery, machinery, and transformations by Mr. Douglass. Dresses by Mr. Strong. Music, arranged for this orchestra, by Mr. Richards ...

[Advertisement], South Australian (18 February 1848), 2 

NEW QUEEN'S THEATRE ... The Orchestral Department will be considerably augmented, and consist of - Mr. Lee (leader), Mr. Richards (second violin), Mr. Thomson (violincello), Mr. Poltridge (cornet-a-piston), Mr. Hewitt (trombone), Mr. Swift (tenor), Mr. Kaebet (master of the German Band, flute).

[Advertisement], South Australian (29 February 1848), 2

"NEW QUEEN'S THEATRE", South Australian (29 February 1848), 2 

[Advertisement], Adelaide Times (9 October 1848), 1 

NEW QUEEN'S THEATRE . . . A Choice Selection of the most admired pieces from the Operas of Cinderella, Bohemian Girl, Fairy Lake, Crusaders, La Somnambula, etc., etc . . . Instrumental Performers: Leader .. Mr. Lee, Mr. Richards (second violin), Mr. Thompson (violoncello), Mr. Kaebet (flute), Mr. Hewitt (trombone), Mr. Hertz (double bass), Mr. Hauffman (tenor) . . .

"LAW AND POLICE COURTS", South Australian Register (4 March 1850), 3 

LAZAR V. STEPHENS ... Harriet Lambert, actress, also contradicted in the most unqualified terms that portion of the evidence which related to herself. In cross-examination she stated that she had never seen Mr. Lazar perpetrate any act of indecency. She did not think him capable of doing so. He played best in broad farce. Henry Richards, leader of the orchestra, corroborated the previous testimony so far as his duties at the theatre permitted him to be an observer of what occurred ...

"LAW AND POLICE COURTS", South Australian Register (4 March 1850), 3 

"THE THEATRE", South Australian Gazette and Mining Journal (30 March 1850), 3 

On Monday, night last, Mr. Lazar, on the occasion of his benefit, produced the fine musical drama of the Slave to a crowded house - the pit being literally crammed, and the boxes well filled with ladies and gentlemen ... We cannot, however, close the notice of a performance which gave such general satisfaction, without awarding to Mrs. Richards the mede of praise to which she is entitled for her sweet song, "the Lass of Gowrie," and to Mr. John Lamb for the unlooked-for agility with which he used his legs in Blancher's hornpipe, previous to dancing off to California in the Broadaxe.

"THEATRE", Adelaide Times (24 April 1850), 3 

The announcement of Mrs. Richards's benefit filled the house on Monday night, it being well-known that, with the most persevering industry, she has solely maintained her husband, now some months confined to his bed, from a severe and apparently fatal sickness, and a family of young children. The manager and company of the Theatre kindly volunteered their services gratis, and, judging from their animated acting, they really seemed to have entered into the benevolent project with the most lively interest. Mr. Coppin also made an effective display of his comic talents on the occasion. The performances, on the whole gave entire satisfaction; and Mrs. Richards herself, notwithstanding her heavy afflictions did her utmost to entertain the audience, and sang "The Lass O'Gowrie" in fine style. The brass band also added greatly to the attractions of the evening ... We understand that Mrs. Richards netted about £6O, a sum that will save herself and family from penury for some time to come.

"MR. RICHARDS", Adelaide Times (6 May 1850), 3 

This well-known member of the orchestra of the New Queen's Theatre, died on Tuesday last, after a severe and protracted illness that confined him to his bed for some months. He was followed to the grave, next day, by all the members of the Theatre, including the manager, who had done his utmost during Mr. Richard's sickness, to alleviate the sufferings of the family. It is only just to repeat that Mrs. Richard's was most assiduous in her attentions, and underwent the most severe privations in maintaining her sick husband and a helpless family of young children. We are happy to say, that the generous support of the public at her late benefit, has placed her above any danger of immediate want.

"DEATHS", The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (10 August 1850), 3 

[Advertisement], Adelaide Times (3 October 1850), 2

NEW QUEEN'S THEATRE ... for the benefit of MISS LAZAR ... THIS EVENING, OCT. 3RD, 1850 ... GRAND CONCERT OF VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC. Song - "I dare not love thee." Mrs. Richards ...

[News], South Australian Register (12 October 1850), 3 

The friends of Mrs. Richards, anxious to remove her from her present occupation, suggest that her forthcoming benefit at the Theatre may be made the means of securing to her a sufficient sum to commence a small business that would enable her to bring up her young family in a respectable manner, which is quite impossible under existing circumstances. Loss of property and other misfortunes induced her late husband to make the Theatre a means of subsistence - a line of life totally repugnant to her feelings. Those who are always ready to assist the widow and the fatherless will not be appealed to in vain in this instance, and it is hoped that those who do not attend the Theatre will give their aid by adding their subscriptions to the lists opened for this laudable undertaking.

"THEATRE", Adelaide Times (22 October 1850), 3 

Mrs. Richards took her farewell benefit last night, in the character of "Lucelle," in "Joan of Arc," under the patronage of the Forresters, who thronged the house in full regalia. The house was crowded, and the performances went off pretty well, but we have no available space to particularize.

"LOCAL NEWS", South Australian (7 November 1850), 2

The Stewards of the races and a large number of ladies and gentlemen attended the Queen's Theatre, last evening, when Mr. Coppin performed in "The King's Gardener," and "Hercules King of Clubs." It is hardly necessary to say that in both he was highly amusing. The other characters were well sustained by Miss Lazar, Opie, Lambert, &c. We must not omit to mention the duet by the young lady just named and Mrs. Richards, "I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows" which was well executed, and received with much applause.

[Advertisement], South Australian Register (26 November 1850), 2 

Mr. A. Moore's PROMENADE CONCERT ... at the Exchange Rooms, This Evening (Tuesday), Nob. 26th ... PART I ... 2. Song, "Should he upbraid," Bishop, Mrs. Richards ... PART II ... 2. Song, "By the Sad Sea Waves", Benedict, Mrs. Richards ...

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