Richards, Captain George Henry
b. 1819
d. 1896-11-14
Captain George Henry Richards, was born in 1819 in Antony, Cornwall, England -- he entered the Royal Navy in 1832. He joined the Sulphur as midshipman in 1836; and from 1839-42, Richards served in the first Opium War in China. Due to his bravery in the war he was promoted to lieutenant in July 1842. He was subsequently assigned to the Navy's survey of the Falkland Island. His work in South America led to his promotion of commander, he remained here until 1847 when he tranferred to the New Zealand coast.From 1847 to 1852, Richards served as a participant on the survey of the coasts of New Zealand. And from 1852-54, he served as second in command on Edward Belcher's ship Assistance and traveled to the Arctic in search of Sir John Franklin, who's expedition was never completed as he had been missing since 1845.1
Upon Richards arrival in England in 1854, he was promoted to captain. It was only two years later in 1856 that Richards was given command of the screw survey vessel the Plumper. On 10 November 1857, Richards arrived in Esquimalt and was charged with aiding in determining the location of the international boundary through the San Juan Islands. The survey was completed in June 1858, but by the end of it Richards claimed that he was sick of all commissions as they were nothing but trickery and humbug. Richards work continued, in the same month, the Plumper was sent to the Fraser River, where Richards was tasked with examining and buoying the lower stretches of the river. By 23 December 1860, Richards transferred to the Plumper's replacement, the Hecate, he continued to survey the coast of Vancouver Island on board the new ship until 1864.2
Richards time surveying was often interrupted by the request of Governor James Douglas to help deal with conflicts between whites and the Indigenous population, much of the conflicts Richards witnessed he believed to be primarily the fault of the whites. After his work on V.I., Richards returned to England in 1864 where he was appointed as hydrographer of the Navy, in this position he became an active promoter of oceanographic reseach which he continued until his retirement in 1874. In his retirement, Richards was a fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Geographical Society, when he was thus knighted in 1877 and became admiral in 1884. Until, and after, Richards death on 14 November 1896, he was regarded as a man of great ability and untiring activity, and that his kindness to young members of his profession caused him to be universally beloved and respected.3
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