Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 15, 2019
Webpage updated: September 15, 2019




The founder of the Plymouth business house of Messrs R Risdon and Sons, Mr Richard Risdon, was born at Islington, Newton Abbot, Devon, in 1840.  He was eldest son of Mr Richard Risdon and his wife Sarah, a baker, of Livington, Ilsington, Newton Abbot.  His father was a small landowner and also connected with the grain and flour trades.  After being educated at Bovey Tracey Grammar School, young Richard joined his father in business.

Mr Richard Risdon married Miss Lydia Elliott in 1860 and she apparently gave birth to their first child, Richard George Risdon, soon afterwards.  In the 1861 census they were living at Beautiful House, Great Colsworthy, Ilsington, where both parents were bakers and confectioners.  They employed a 17-years-old Princetown lad by the name of John Foster as a baker/servant.

In 1866 he succeeded to the confectionery business of Messrs Polkinghorne and Company, at number 3 George Street, Plymouth, and moved in to the Town.   By the time of the 1871 census not only had their business grown but so had his family.  In addition to Richard George Risdon there were now John Tribble Risdon and William Elliott Risdon and also living with them was Lydia's sister, 18-years-old Ruth Elliott.  Four servants completed the household, the two males being a baker and apprentice, and the two females being domestic staff.

Richard soon purchased number 38 George Street and by 1878 had transferred the business to that address.  Around the same time Mr John Tregillus, corn miller, who had premises at the Great Western (Millbay) Docks and also owned Loughtor Mills, Plympton, was declared bankrupt and Richard joined in partnership with his younger brother, Mr John Tribble Risdon (although the Tribble seems to have been dropped by this time), as Messrs J & R Risdon to purchase the business.  Messrs W H and J H Ball later became partners in this business.

The tender of Mr Risdon for the supply of bread and flour was accepted by the Saint German's Board of Guardians on Thursday December 15th 1881.

By 1890 the business had become Messrs R Risdon and Sons, and Richard had moved out into the country, to Smallack House, Crownhill Road, in the parish of Eggbuckland.  He had also started a branch shop at number 6 Treville Street.

At the time of the census in 1891 Mr Richard Risdon at Smallack House was listed as a miller and corn merchant rather than a baker and confectioner.  With him and Lydia lived their eldest son, Mr Richard George Risdon, who was listed as a confectioner and was still single at 30 years of age.  They had two female domestic servants, Miss Mary Robjohns/Rabjohns from Moretonhampstead and Miss Louisa Wakeham from East Stonehouse.  Also in the household was a 15-years-old Eggbuckland lad called Alfred Taylor who was employed as an errand boy.

The shop at 6 Treville Street was run by a 28-years-old Londoner, Miss Annie Wright, who was regarded as a confectioner's assistant.

Flour factor and confectioner Mr John Tribble Risdon lived at 38 George Street.  He had two female assistants, Miss Eda Casley and Miss Emily Holdiness, both in their twenties, as well as a cook (Miss Jane Allen) and a 16-years-old kitchen maid, Miss Sarah Eva, from East Stonehouse.

After serving as a Liberal councillor for the Saint Andrew's Ward and, later, the Hoe Ward, Richard Risdon was elected Mayor of Plymouth in November 1900.  His term in office was noted for its many happy social events, which included garden parties held at his new country residence, Smallack, in the parish of Eggbuckland.   He became rather infamous as the heaviest Mayor to have ever occupied the civic chair.

Mr Richard Risdon, Mayor of Plymouth, died suddenly shortly after 10pm on the night of Tuesday July 16th 1901.  Some time after retiring to his bed he had been awoken with a cough but assured his wife that everything was OK.  Suddenly he was taken with a seizure and Doctor Oliver at Crownhill for sent for but in the meantime Mr Risdon passed away.

During his lifetime, he had been a keen member of the George Street Baptist Chapel but when he moved to Eggbuckland transferred to the local parish church of Saint Edward's as it was more convenient.  He formed good friendships with Mr Solomon Stephens and Mr Henry Matthews, both bakers, and was a member of the Devon and Cornwall Miller's Association and the National association of British and Irish Millers.  Mr Risdon also served as a member of the Plymouth Court of Guardians and at Roborough Petty Session Court as a Justice of the Peace for the County of Devon.

The funeral took place at Eggbuckland Parish Church on the afternoon of Saturday July 20th 1901.

Messrs R Risdon and Sons was then taken over by fellow baker and confectioner Mr Solomon Stephens and by 1911 the family were dispersed to other parts of the country.  Eldest son, Mr Richard George Risdon moved to Brighton, Sussex, where he kept a restaurant with his new wife, Alice.  Mr John Risdon and his wife Ellen moved to Portsmouth, in Hampshire, where he became a Commission Agent for Flour.  The younger brother, Mr William Elliott Risdon, was a doctor of medicine practising in Bournemouth and then in London.

Mrs Lydia Risdon, widow of Richard, died in the Newton Abbot district of Devon in 1917.