Richardson, Robert (d.1578) (DNB00)

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RICHARD, ROBERT (d. 1578), prior of St. Mary's Isle and lord high treasurer of Scotland, was, according to Crawfurd (Officers of State, p. 383), descended from ‘a stock of ancient and opulent burgesses of Edinburgh,’ and was himself ‘a person of great wealth and credit.’ He studied at the university of St. Andrews, where he graduated M.A. in 1533.

The future lord high treasurer was one of the auditors of the treasurer's accounts in 1551 and 1552, and he is mentioned in 1554–5 as connected with the mint (Laing in Knox's Works, i. 372, on the authority of the ‘Treasurer's Accounts’). He is described as ‘servant of the queen and vicar of Eckfurd’ on 10 Feb. 1555–6, when he received under the great seal a charter of the lands of Nether Gogar, Midlothian (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1546–80, No. 1041). On the death of the lord high treasurer, Gilbert Kennedy, earl of Cassilis, in France on 14 Nov. 1558, Richardson, then described as ‘burgensis de Edinburgh,’ was made general of the mint, and, as clerk of the treasurer, he officiated as lord high treasurer until he was formally appointed to that office on 5 March 1560–1. On the last day of March 1558–9 he was made prior of St. Mary's, Isle of Trail, near Kirkcudbright, a dignity which enabled him to sit as a lord and member of parliament. He first sat as member of the privy council on 7 Jan. 1561–2 (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 195).

In 1558 the lords of the congregation seized from Richardson the mint and the printing irons with all the ready money he had on hand (Leslie, History of Scotland, Bannatyne Club, p. 275); but they afterwards defended themselves from the charge of spoliation on the ground that they wished to stop the corruption of the coinage, and that they had paid him in coined and uncoined metal the value of what they seized (Knox, Works, i. 372–3). It was, however, stipulated in the agreement made at Leith on 24 July 1559 that the printers' irons should be returned to Richardson (ib. p. 377). Richardson is classed by Knox as among those present at the parliament convened at Edinburgh in July 1560 who had ‘renounced papistrie and openly professed Jesus Christ’ (ib. ii. 88); but he took no prominent part in the political or religious controversies of the time. In January 1563–1564 he was required to do penance before the whole congregation in Edinburgh for ‘getting a woman with child,’ Knox preaching the sermon (Randolph to Cecil in Knox's Works, vi. 527).

Richardson retained his office of treasurer after the marriage of Mary to Darnley; and, after the fall of Mary and her imprisonment, he adhered to the party of the lords. He was present at the coronation of the young king James VI at Stirling on 29 July 1567 (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 537), and at the convention at Perth in July 1569 he voted against the queen's divorce from Bothwell (ib. ii. 8). In 1567 he is mentioned as archdeacon of Teviotdale (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1546–80, No. 1938). He vacated the office of treasurer in 1571, being succeeded by William, fourth lord Ruthven (Lord Herries, Memoirs of the Reign of Mary, p. 138). In Crawfurd's ‘Officers of State’ the office is stated to have become vacant by the death of Richardson in 1571, but Richardson lived several years afterwards. It is probable that he was not deprived of the office, but resigned it from growing infirmities; for not only did he retain his seat on the privy council, but in May 1572, by precept of the lord regent, he received a pension of 500l. which was regularly paid him until May 1578. He probably died between that May and the following November; in any case he was dead before August 1579, when 5,000l. was paid to his natural son, Robert Richardson, for the ‘relief of certain his Hienes [the King's] jewels laid in pledge by James, Earl of Moray,’ to the ‘said umwhile Robert Richardson and now delivered’ (Note by Laing in Knox's Works, vi. 681). If he was married he appears to have been survived by no legitimate offspring. According to Crawfurd, Richardson possessed a ‘large estate in land,’ including the baronies of Smeaton and Pencaitland, which he left to his natural son, James Richardson, who married Lady Elizabeth, daughter of James Douglas, earl of Morton, regent of Scotland. Their issue was Sir James of Smeaton; Sir Robert Richardson, reputed first baronet of Pencaitland; Archibald; and Alexander. According to the ‘Register of the Great Seal’ the lord treasurer had another natural son, Stephen.

Another Robert Richardson, (fl. 1543) in 1530 became a canon of the abbey of Cambuskenneth, published in the same year at Paris a Latin exegesis on the rule of St. Augustine, became a convert to protestantism (on which account he fled into England in 1538), and was, on the recommendation of Henry VIII, employed in 1543 in preaching in Scotland; but, on the withdrawal of the protection of the regent Arran, after Cardinal Beaton was set at liberty, he was again compelled to seek refuge in England.

[Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1546–80; Reg. P. C. Scotland, vols. i. and ii.: Knox's Works, with Laing's Notes; Calderwood's History of the Church of Scotland; Lord Herries's Memoirs of the Reign of Mary (in the Abbotsford Club); Scott's Staggering State of Scottish Statesmen.]

T. F. H.