Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Horace Frank Richardson (1854–1935)

by Ian Wynd

This article was published:

Horace Frank Richardson (1854-1935), businessman, civic leader and politician, was born on 8 November 1854 at Geelong, Victoria, fourth son of English parents John Richardson, druggist and later member of the Legislative Assembly, and his second wife Annie Maria, née Matthews. He was educated at Geelong College and in 1873 began work as an indentured clerk in the Geelong branch of the Liverpool, London and Globe Insurance Co. In 1876 he succeeded his father as secretary and treasurer to the Shire of South Barwon, retaining the post for eighteen years. He also became secretary and valuer to the Barrabool Shire. On 16 February 1881 at Christ Church, Geelong, he married Edith Harriet Sommers. That year he was appointed electoral registrar for Geelong; at the same time he became district agent for several insurance companies and opened an office as an insurance and commission agent. In 1886 he leased part of the Exhibition Buildings and established the Geelong Corn and Produce Exchange which proved to be 'of material benefit' to the district's farming community. In 1899 he moved into his own new premises which became known as Richardson's Exchange. His later successful fight in the High Court of Australia for the abolition of market dues was much appreciated by local producers.

Richardson showed a lively interest in civic matters, serving first on the Geelong Town Council from 1884 to 1897 (mayor, 1894-96) before being elected to the Shire of South Barwon where he continued for thirty-three years and served four terms as president. He was an originator and active member of the Jubilee Juvenile and Industrial Exhibition of 1887. For thirty-one years he was a member and office-holder of the Municipal Association of Victoria. He was also a trustee of the Geelong branch of the Australian Natives' Association and councillor of the Gordon Memorial Technical College. A keen sportsman, he was an active member of the Mercantile Cricket and Barwon Rowing clubs, founder of the Belmont Bowling and Croquet clubs, and an enthusiastic member of the Geelong detachment of the Victorian Mounted Rifles.

In 1912 Richardson was elected to the Legislative Council for South-Western Province. He became first an honorary minister in the Bowser government, then minister of forests (1924-27) in the Allan-Peacock ministry, and successively unofficial leader of and government leader in the Council. He advocated decentralization, opening up the Barwon River and the improving of river lands. As a politician he was described as 'a veritable live wire' with 'boundless energy'. His advocacy of film censorship no doubt reflected his religious background: in 1904 he was president of the Baptist Union of Victoria and next year represented Victorian Baptists at the first Baptist World Congress in London where he helped to frame the constitution of the Baptist World Alliance. In 1895 when General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, visited Geelong he stayed at Richardson's home, Kardinia (built for Dr Alexander Thomson).

Richardson did not seek re-election in 1934. He died at Kardinia on 28 October 1935 and was buried in the Eastern cemetery. His wife, three sons and a daughter survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Sutherland et al, Victoria and its Metropolis, vol 2 (Melb, 1888)
  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 2 (Melb, 1904)
  • W. R. Brownhill, The History of Geelong and Corio Bay (Melb, 1955)
  • Geelong Advertiser, 15 Sept 1925, 29 Oct 1935.

Citation details

Ian Wynd, 'Richardson, Horace Frank (1854–1935)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 16 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


8 November, 1854
Geelong, Victoria, Australia


28 October, 1935 (aged 80)
Geelong, Victoria, Australia

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