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An amazing story of Richmond

From: Norman Williams
Date: 8/4/99
Time: 6:00:55 PM
Remote Name:


I discovered some amazing information about my home town Richmond ROOTS IN RICHMOND

I am Norman Williams and I go way back to 1917 when I was born in Richmond on the West Side about a block form the Whitewater River. I grew up as a boy in Richmond. My father was a conductor on the streetcars in Richmond and he had a sign shop on Main Street and then he worked for the Davis Motor Car Company striping the wheels on six cars a day. He did his job in the morning and had the after noon off. I have many find memories of Richmond. The steam trails at the Pennsylvania Railroad Station and the sound of the whistle as it sounded across the countryside. I often rode on those trains because my father worked on the railroad painting bridges and he got passes for us to ride to Chicago Heights where my Grandmother Miller lived. I was in the third grade in school when the St Valentines Day massacre took place in Chicago. I was terrorized because of the gangsters of Al Capone. My grandfather in Richmond was King Rider Williams who was once the county recorder in Wayne County. I did not know until recently that he came from a Quaker family and lived in Greens Fork in Wayne County. I found a book in the library at Palm Harbor Florida that told about my Williams family in Indiana. I knew it was my grandfather because my aunt Alice from Webster and aunt Lulu who lived on a farm west of Richmond and my aunt Emma who lived on Easthaven Avenue just a block form Earlham College were named in the book. It was a book written by Mabel Bean Williams who wrote about my great grandfather Daniel Williams who was a Quaker minister in Greensfork. I was recently back to Greensfork and I visited the house where he lived on Palmer Road where it turns east towards Fountain City. I know this is my great grandfather because Daniel Williams he is buried at the Quaker cemetery on Raymond Road next to my grandmother and grandfather. I have a vivid recollection of the tombstones from the time when I was there as a child. The stones were exactly like I remembered from 6o years ago. I have an old Quaker bible that was given to my great grandmother; Lydia Rider Williams by her father King Rider. My grandfather was named King Rider Williams after his mother's father. I did not know until recently that my grandfather was an engineer. I was sent a newspaper clipping from the Morrison Reeves library about my grandfather. While he came from a family of Quakers he refused a Quaker ceremony at his funeral. I would like to know why because he is buried in a Quaker cemetery. Daniel Williams's father was Richard Williams who was the brother to Prudence Williams the mother of Levi Coffin. The Williams family and the Coffin family both came from Guilford County in North Carolina before the Civil War because of the Quaker opposition to slavery. Levi Coffin was the President of the Underground Railway and helped to free more than 3000 slaves. Levi Coffin in his book "Reminiscences" refers to my great great grandfather Richard Williams as "mean old Dick Williams." Richard Williams was the fourth child of his father also named Richard Williams. He died of small pox the he caught taking care of British soldiers wounded in the Battle of Guilford Court House. This battle was fought on Richard Williams's farm near Greensboro North Carolina. I visited the site of the battle and saw the Quaker cemetery where he is buried. Richard Williams had donated the 53 acres of the cemetery where he is buried to the Quaker church. But the most amazing thing I was to discover about Richmond in Mabel Bean Williams's book was that Richard Williams was named after Sir Richard Williams who was a knight in the court of King Henry VIII. Sir Richard Williams was the son of Morgan Williams an archer in the service of Henry VII the Tudor king who was the Earl of Richmond. His palace on the Thames River north of London was called Richmond. It is very likely that the name of the Richmond in Indiana came from this palace. But even more amazing is that Sir Richards home called Hinchingbrooke House still stands in England today and is now a high school. The head master of the school sent me a booklet with pictures of the house and with the initials of my ancestor carved on the fireplace. Sir Richard Williams was the great uncle of Oliver Cromwell who lived in this house as a boy. I will enclose a picture of his house that can be viewed as an attachment to this email letter. HINCHINGBROOKE HOUSE PAGE

Welcome to Hinchingbrooke House!

Come on our Virtual Tour

Hinchingbrooke House

is on the outskirts of Huntingdon, once Huntingdonshire now part of Cambridgeshire, in the south-east of England. The first known building on the site was a Norman church dated to about the year 1100. By about the year 1200 it had been converted to a Benedictine Nunnery and remained so until about 1536. Remains of the nunnery still exist in the present building, notably the stone coffins of two nuns which can still be seen under the stairs of the present building. However it is as a Country House that Hinchingbrooke is best known. When the nunnery was dissolved in 1536 it passed to Richard Williams, alias Cromwell, who made many additions, converting the nun's church into a series of downstairs rooms with a long gallery above.

His son, Henry Cromwell, added a medieval gateway taken from Ramsey Abbey to make a grand entrance, and a service wing containing a kitchen, pantries and service rooms. It was a grand enough house for Queen Elizabeth to visit and stay the night in 1564.

His son Oliver, later Sir Oliver and uncle to Oliver Cromwell the Lord Protector, then took on the house and it was he who built the Great Bow Window shown on the graphic on this page. King James I stayed at Hinchingbrooke in 1603 on his way to take the throne and appreciated his visit so much that he returned frequently over the next twenty years.

However, burdened with debt, Sir Oliver was forced to sell the house and grounds in 1627 to the Montagu family who owned it until 1962.

There is a great deal of evidence about life in the following generation because between 1661 and 1663 Samuel Pepys the great diarist was secretary to Edward Montagu when he became Earl of Sandwich.

Many improvements were made to Hinchingbrooke at this time before the Earl was killed at sea when at war with the Dutch in 1672.

The fourth Earl was next to make an impact on the house. He succeeded to the title and the house in 1729. It was this fourth earl, John Montagu, who famously invented the sandwich and sponsored Captain James Cook's voyages of exploration. Evidence of Cook's gratitude can be found in islands off the east coast of Queensland, Australia called Brampton, Hinchingbrooke and Sandwich.

The fourth Earl made Hinchingbrooke a lively and entertaining place, hosting many festivities with his mistress Martha Ray while his wife was in a mental asylum in Windsor. Martha Ray's death was caused by a jealous suitor, one Captain Hackman, who killed her in the foyer of the Opera House at Covent Garden, a crime for which he was executed.

In 1830 there was a serious fire which destroyed large areas of the house. Parts were rebuilt but the result was something of a compromise.

In 1962 Hinchingbrooke was sold to the county council who used some of the grounds for a hospital and a police control centre, while the house itself and the immediate grounds were restored and altered to become Hinchingbrooke School in September 1970.

Hinchingbrooke House is open to the public during the summer months on Sunday afternoons. For a view of the weather in Cambridge, only 20 miles away, click here.

More details about the House may be found in a booklet written by Roger Mitchell and available from the school or the curator, John Cronin.

Return to Hinchingbrooke Home Page

Contact us at Hinchingbrooke School


Hinchingbrooke is on the outskirts of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, in the south-east of England.

It was the land belonging to the Earls of Sandwich who lived in Hinchingbrooke House. Before that it was the home of Thomas Cromwell, ancestor of Oliver Cromwell. It was also the workplace of Samuel Pepys, who was secretary to Lord Montagu.

Hinchingbrooke House & School

In 1970, Hinchingbrooke House was converted into a secondary school and the grounds became local authority land. Some of that land is used as games fields, some as a Country Park, and there is a lake for water sports.

Hinchingbrooke School is still a Local Authority School and has over 1800 pupils aged 11-18 and 96 teaching staff.

The Resources Centre and Information Centre is a substantial modern centre with 15,000 book and non-book resources,computerised catalogue (ALICE), Ceefax, many CD-ROM players and over 50 CD-ROM titles, INTERNET access and other networked computer facilities where we encourage everyone to search wisely. We have an Essential Reference Page too.

Hinchingbrooke's Webmaster is Duncan Grey, Head of Learning Resources at Hinchingbrooke School.

Contact us at Duncan.Grey@a4503.camcnty.gov.uk

or contact the Head teacher at Peter.Sainsbury@a4503.camcnty.gov.uk

telephone 01480 451121

Hinchingbrooke School

Brampton Road, Huntingdon PE18 6BN

Revised: January 20, 2006