Richardson, John (1797-1863) (DNB00)

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RICHARDSON, JOHN (1797–1863), journalist, was born of Scottish parents in 1797 near Niagara Falls, Ontario. He served in the Canadian militia during the war of 1812, and was taken prisoner at the battle of the Thames. After his liberation he entered the British army, and in 1815 proceeded to England, where he married an Essex lady. He spent a portion of his time in Paris, and in 1829 published ‘Écarté, or the Salons of Paris,’ which was vigorously assailed by Jerdan in the ‘Literary Gazette,’ for no other reason, according to Richardson, than that Jerdan, piqued with Colburn, had threatened to denounce the next book Colburn published, which happened to be Richardson's. In 1835 Richardson joined the British auxiliary legion raised by the Spanish ambassador in London to aid the queen regent Christina against the Carlists. Richardson was appointed senior captain in the sixth Scots grenadiers, and in 1836 attained his majority; he was also made a knight of the military order of St. Ferdinand by Queen Christina. But he had a violent quarrel with his commander (Sir) George De Lacy Evans [q. v.], to whose politics he was hostile, and in his ‘Journal of the Movements of the British Legion’ (London, 1836, 8vo) he charged Evans with treating him with gross tyranny. The matter was made a subject of inquiry by the House of Commons, and the result not satisfying Richardson, he returned to the charge in his ‘Personal Memoirs’ (Montreal, 1838, 8vo). He also proposed to Theodore Hook [q. v.] to continue his ‘Jack Brag,’ with the object of lampooning Evans and other officers. Hook approved of the idea, but no publisher would take it up (Barham, Life of Hook, 1877, pp. 201–2).

Meanwhile, Richardson's tory politics recommended him to the ‘Times,’ and in 1838 he accepted an offer from that journal to proceed as its correspondent to Canada, where Papineau's rebellion was in progress. In this capacity Richardson so vigorously supported Lord Durham's arbitrary administration that his engagement was promptly terminated [see Lambton, John George, first Earl of Durham].

In 1840 he established at Brockville, Ontario, a newspaper, the ‘New Era,’ which lasted two years, and in 1843 he began to publish at Kingston the ‘Native Canadian,’ in which he strongly supported Metcalfe's government [see Metcalfe, Charles Theophilus]. He afterwards removed to the United States, and continued to write for the press until his death in 1863. His other works are: ‘Wacousta, or the Prophecy,’ 1832; ‘Eight Years in Canada,’ Montreal, 1847, chiefly a record of Richardson's grievances and opinions; ‘The Guards in Canada,’ Montreal, 1848; ‘The Monk Knight of St. John, a Tale of the Crusaders,’ New York, 1850; ‘Matilda Montgomerie,’ New York, 1851; and ‘Wau-nan-gee … a Romance of the American Revolution,’ New York, 1852.

[Appleton's Cycl. of Amer. Biogr.; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; Morgan's Celebrated Canadians; Richardson's works, esp. Personal Memoirs and Eight Years in Canada.]

B. H. S.