(25th February 1873  -  8th August 1930)


(photo dated c.1925)



Grandfather  of W.P. 'Bill' Richardson


Born on 25th February 1873 at Little Usworth, Usworth, Co. Durham. William's parents were Robert Richardson, a coal miner, and his wife Margaret. He was given the middle name of Pallister, which was his mother's maiden name.

The 1881 census recorded the family as living at number 51, Railway Terrace, Little Usworth and William was listed as a scholar, aged 8.

In 1885 his father, Robert, was killed in the explosion at Usworth Colliery and shortly afterwards William joined his older brother Thomas working in the pit.

By the time of the 1891 census, the family were still living in Railway Terrace, but were now at number 11. William was 18 and his occupation was listed as Coal Cutter.
Along the road, at number 38, Railway Terrace lived a family called Howey, who had a daughter called Esther, aged 15. Esther was just three years younger than William and they obviously got along well.

At the age of 22, on the 25th of April 1895, William married Esther Howey and the 1901 census showed that they were living at number 13 Railway Terrace, Usworth his occupation on that census was listed as 'Coal Hewer'.

Their early married life was touched with great sadness, Esther was to have five premature babies none of whom survived more than a few days.
Robert was born in 1896 and died four days later.
Thomas was born in 1897 and lived just an hour after he was born.
Ralph was born in 1898 and died soon after birth.
Georgina was born in 1899 and only lived 20 hours.
Esther was born in 1901 and lived for only thirty minutes.

That is a lot of sadness for one young couple to bear.

In 1902, Esther was pregnant again, she and William must have been overjoyed when their daughter May arrived, healthy and thriving. She was followed in 1904 by Georgena, 1906 saw the arrival of Esther, Margaret came along in 1909 and finally William Pallister in 1911.

The 1911 census recorded happier times. The family were living at 2 Manor View, New Washington and William was 38, he was working in the pit as a Hewer. His wife, Esther, was 35 and had just given birth to their son, William Pallister, who was only three weeks old and had come to join his older sisters May (8), Georgena (7), Esther (4) and Margaret (2). The census stated that William and Esther had been married for 15 years, had 10 babies born alive in that time and only 5 had survived. Probably just for the time around the birth, they had help in the house, a young local woman called Jemima Trueman was listed as a servant.

William was a miner, but he was also so much more. Just after he died, an issue of the Monthly Circular of the Northumberland Miner's Association was given over to an 'appreciation' of his life. It was produced by W Straker. The following extract describes William's working life:
Five months after his father's death he commenced to work in Usworth Pit as a pony driver.
[...] From a driver he rose to be a putter, and from a putter to a hewer. He very early in his career began to take an interest in the Usworth Branch of the Durham Miners' Association. When only a putter he was appointed putters' average wage taker, and when a very young man he was appointed secretary of the branch. He also became secretary of the Usworth Branch of the Durham Miners' Approved Society, under the National Health Insurance Act. He was, in addition, Compensation Secretary of that branch.
In 1912 he became a member of the Durham Miners' Federation Board and in 1915 he became an agent of the Durham Miners' Association and acted as Executive Committee Secretary. In July 1924, after the death of Mr Thomas Cann, he was appointed General Secretary of the Association.
In 1917 he was one of the Durham members of the Committee of the Federation of Great Britain, and in 1921 was appointed Treasurer of that Federation - a position which he held up to his death. He was also one of the miners' members of the Miners' National Welfare Committee. He was also for several years a member of the International Miners' Committee and in that capacity was very frequently on the Continent, at conferences and committee meetings. He also attended many meetings of the League of Nations Labour Organisation, held in Geneva. One of the most important reasons for these meetings between the Miners' Federation officials and the League of Nations was their desire to establish an international arrangement between the coal-producing countries of Europe.
About 28 years ago he was one of a few ardent souls who formed a branch of the I.L.P. at Usworth. It took some courage to do that at that time. He carried on an active propaganda movement, the result of which is seen to-day on the Labour majority in the Durham County Council.

For 15 years before he went into the Durham Miners' offices he was chairman of the Usworth Parish Council.

When he was appointed as Financial Secretary for the Durham Miners Association, the miners at Usworth took up a collection and made a presentation to William and Esther in appreciation of their work in Usworth. This was reported in detail in the Durham Chronicle on 21st January 1916 (see documents listing).

On 3rd April 1927 William's wife, Esther, died.

William obviously was a man who liked things to be in order and shortly after the death of his wife, on the 12th April 1927 he made a will stating that now his estate was to be jointly shared between his five children in the event of his death. He named his two eldest daughters, May and Georgena, as executors.

William died on 8th August 1930 , aged 57, he was buried at St Margaret's churchyard, Durham in the same grave as his wife, Esther and his name was added to the memorial he had provided for her.

After his death his will was proved and registered in Durham and his daughters were granted probate on 1st October. William's estate amounted to 4697, quite a lot of money for a man who had started down the pit at the age of twelve.