Sydney RICHARDSON was born 3 Jul 1962 in the village of Weston Longville in Norfolk England (north west of Norwich), where by 1861 his father Henry Proctor RICHARDSON II was a gamekeeper for the Custance family of nearby Weston Hall (the manor house dates back to 1558). Sydney’s father came from Brede Sussex near Hastings, and his mother Elizabeth HARRIS (1828-1902) was born in Lower Slaughter Gloucestershire in the scenic Cotswolds. Sydney was the fifth of eight children (3 boys and 5 girls) and was baptized in All Saints Church in Weston Longville on 20 Sep 1863 at the age of 14 1/2 months. From his father he gained an appreciation of animal and land management and a love for gardening and hunting. According to my aunt (Sydney’s granddaughter), he must have done well at school because he received an award for his good penmanship, which was proudly displayed on their wall at home. (I had previously and incorrectly attributed this award to her other grandfather William ANDREW.)
I have been unable to trace any personal record for Sydney during his brief life in Ontario. But records in the Prince Edward Island (PEI) Archives verify that Sydney Richardson was the first cheese maker in the new "St Eleanors Cheese Factory” in 1883. The Archives Canada site also refers to it as the “St. Eleanor’s Cheese Manufacturing Company”.
"St Eleanors Cheese Factory: St Eleanor's [PEI] boasted one of the earliest cheese factories on PEI. Unfortunately there is little documentation of this enterprise. The company was established by statute in 1883 (Cap. 21) and the factory was built on Lot 16 Road. The first cheese maker at St Eleanor's was Sydney Richardson who received a bronze medal in 1886 for the best exhibit of cheese in the British Empire. The factory was still in operation in 1903 according to an entry in the report of the Dairy Association for that year."
Fond Summary: "The fonds consists of a photocopy of a letter from Charles Andrew Sr. on behalf of the St. Eleanor's Farmer's Club who were desirous of starting a cheese factory to Samuel Wood at Newtonville, Ontario requesting him to take the letter to a cheese factory where someone could respond to questions regarding the starting up and operating a small cheese factory.”
Regarding the references to Sydney’s 1886 bronze medal award for his excellent cheese, I looked for confirmation of this in various PEI publications. On June 2nd and 3rd, 1886, the Charlottetown Daily Examiner newspaper published lists of PEI exhibitors at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London. "St Eleanor’s Cheese Factory - Cheese” was an exhibitor in their June 3rd issue. The following year on March 26, 1887, the Charlottetown Daily Examiner listed “St Eleanors Cheese Factory, St. Eleanors” as one of the winners of "diplomas and medals”. Sydney’s name and the exact nature of his award were not listed. However a couple local history booklets provided additional information. “Sketches of Old St Eleanors” published in 1973, states on page 34:
“In 1886 [Sydney Richardson] received a bronze medal for the best exhibit of his cheese in the British Empire. This medal, now in Edwin Bernard’s possession, shows that Edward Albert, Prince of Wales, was president of the Colonial and Indian exhibition, London, England. The old cheese dry house is now on the farm of Ralph Riley used as a machine shop. Hogs were kept in an enclosure at the back of the factory to feed on the surplus whey.”
His son Melbourne wrote a short memoirs of his early years which included the following details:
“I was born Apr 6 1886. Eldest of 5 children... I was born in a cottage owned by the Darby family across the road from their farm. My father had small cheese factory, supplied with milk from the farmers surround it with delivery routes about 5 or 6 miles in several directions around the factory. The routes picked up milk & returned whey to those who could use it, a food for pig feed mixed with crushed grain also chickens, etc. After a couple of years or so, father bought a small farm 25 acres, a good house about 7 rooms, 2 stories. A good barn suitable for 3 cows, 3 horses and mows for hay for long winters. ”
From the few pictures I have of Sydney, he was a square-jawed man with rigidly square shoulders and very upright bearing. My grandmother Nell once told me that he was very particular about his posture and insisted the same of her, going to the extend of strapping a board to Nell’s back to make sure she kept her shoulders back. Judging from Granny's later posture, it worked. I wonder if Sydney’s parents had done the same to him?
Old newspapers provide additional glimpses of Sydney's life and activities over the years. He won prizes at the Prince County Exhibitions in Summerside, sometimes for a heifer or a pair of Orpington Buff chickens, or for his produce: carrots, cabbage, parsnips, eschallot seeds, Roxbury Russet apples, wheat, and celery. He traveled to Charlottetown on occasion, sometimes with relatives and sometimes staying in hotels there. In 1901 he was one of 2 directors elected to the Kensington Dairying Association for Prince County. In 1909 he was elected Vestrymen as well as delegate for St John’s Church in St Eleanors. In 1921 he was honorable pall bearer at the funeral of Thomas ANDREW, his son-in-law’s uncle. In 1926 he was foreman of the jury at the inquest into the death of an Anthony Mitchell. In 1928 he was one of twelve called to serve on the Grand Jury in Summerside for 5 criminal and several civil cases. In 1947 (but reprinted from 1897) Sydney RICHARDSON was acknowledged as one of 32 cheesemakers on the island the previous year, saying that he had been at St. Eleanors for 15 years (13 by my reckoning).
Sydney and Ella remained in St Eleanors PEI for the rest of their lives, outliving three of their children, and eventually separated by distance from their other two. Their daughter Lulu died in 1940, and George died in 1943, having suffered from mustard gas in the First World War. Their son Melbourne had left home as a young man and ended up in Seattle. Nell was the only one left of the island. Ella had a bad stroke in about 1935 when she was 76, leaving her bedridden and dependent on family for another 15 years. Their daughter Nell tried to help her father out with nursing duties as much as possible although her own youngest child was only six at the time of the stroke and most if not all of her seven children were still at home. It must have been so hard on Ella too, as she had been a nurse herself so knew what the commitment entailed and the toll it had on her remaining family. By 1950, Nell had her own health issues and could no longer care for her aging parents, so moved to the west coast of Canada where her husband and family were already settled. Some distant COMPTON relatives took over the care of Ella and Sydney.
Ella died at age 92 on 16 Mar 1951, her daughter Nell’s birthday. Sydney must have been holding on for Ella’s sake because just a short 19 days later, Sydney died at the age of 88 on 4 Apr 1951. They are both buried in St John’s churchyard, St Eleanors PEI. They were also remembered by their descendants on 27 Jan 1985, when a new stained glass window in St Johns Church, St Eleanors was dedicated to the memory of Sydney and Isabella RICHARDSON and their daughter and son-in-law F. Lulu and Bruce BERNARD. They are remembered.
Weston Longville All Saints Church, Norfolk England - Norfolk Churches site
Images of Weston Longville Norfolk (copyrighted): Weston Hall, 1946 and Weston Longville Church sketch
St. Eleanor's Cheese Manufacturing Company Fonds - archivescanada site
PEI newspaper index, 1886 exhibitors and 1887 medals and diplomas - islandregister site
St Johns Anglican Church, St Eleanors, PEI, Canada - historic places site
St Johns Anglican Church, St Eleanors - PEI heritage buildings
St Johns Church St Eleanors and Richmond Parish Fonds - Archives Council of PEI
"52 Ancestors" is a reference to the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge I am participating in.
Reference the No Story Too Small blog by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow for more details.
It is giving me the much needed incentive to write and publish my family stories.