AMONG the 102 renowned people from Richmond over the last 900 years who are profiled in a new book are politicians and knitters, architects and thespians, artists and gentrymen plus the inventor of the lifeboat and two women who rejoiced in the name of Tryphora.

The book runs from Alan Rufus, who founded Richmond castle in 1071, to Lady Serena James, an Honorary Freeman of the town who died aged 98 in 2000 and is described as “a much loved Richmondian who was the epitome of what a lady should be”.

And there is one newspaperman, who played a major role in the creation of the Darlington & Stockton Times.

The book has been compiled by Jane Hatcher from her years of study of Richmond’s history. She admits that her list of 102 Richmondians is “very subjective”, but each of her essays is a fascinating peer into a life gone by.

Richmondians by Jane Hatcher

Richmondians by Jane Hatcher

Here are just a few of her renowned Richmondians:

John Bell (1829-1890), newspaperman

JOHN’S father, Matthew, had a bookselling and printing business in Finkle Street and was wrapped up in the great political arguments of the day. John’s eldest brother, George, went to London as a printer and founded an extremely successful business that is now part of HarperCollins.

John stayed in Richmond, taking over the Finkle Street business and, in 1855, starting the area’s first newspaper, the Richmond & Ripon Chronicle.

By 1870, he was declared bankrupt in Northallerton with debts of £4,540 (more than half-a-million in today’s values, according to the Bank of England Inflation Calculator) and he fled to New Zealand, where he died.

In 1894, the Chronicle was taken over by the D&S Times – which celebrates its 175th anniversary later this year. The Yorkshire edition of the D&S still has the Chronicle’s name beneath its masthead although, curiously, since at least the Second World War, it has had its Ripons and Richmonds the wrong way round.

Jane Hatcher, researching in the Richmondshire Museum. Picture: Guy Carpenter

Jane Hatcher, researching in the Richmondshire Museum. Picture: Guy Carpenter

Anne Bowman (1796-1886), writer

ANNE’S father, Thomas, had a printing business where Thomas the Baker is today on the Market Place High Row. Through studying books, Anne largely educated herself so that she could run a boarding school and exhibit her many talents: she spoke French, played musical instruments, wrote poetry and was a talented gardener.

Then, remarkably, at the age of 56, she wrote the first of her 13 adventure novels for teenage boys, The Bear Hunters of the Rocky Mountains. Published in London, these well researched novels were said to have “sold in hundreds of thousands and were read by millions”.

Anne Bowman, the Richmond lady who became a nationally renowned author

Anne Bowman, the Richmond lady who became a nationally renowned author

Suddenly, Anne was such a best-selling author that her publishers put her name on everything from educational books to collections of acrostics (early crosswords) and a cookery book which was hugely successful and may have been inspired by her grandmother, who was housekeeper at Carlton Hall near Stanwick.

She died aged 90 in Richmond, and the R&R Chronicle noted that she had “earned a great reputation as an authoress, having written many valuable and interesting books”.

John Fenwick (1846-1905), shopkeeper

NO 83 Frenchgate is now a holiday cottage but it is one of the few properties in Richmond that retains an old small-paned shop window, and it was here that in the 1840s John and Mary Fenwick were tallow-chandlers – makers and sellers of candles, as well as selling other groceries.

Their son, also John, helped making candles from an early age: dipping the wicks in molten animal fat and then hanging them to dry – Richmond may have been ideal for this business being a sheepy area as sheep fat made candles that smelled the least when burnt.

In 1860, Mary died and was buried in the churchyard; in 1861, young John left the council school with a good report and moved to Newcastle where he worked in a draper’s shop. He did well, spotting a new market for women’s clothes, and in 1882, opened his own shop in Northumberland Street: he was a draper, mantle maker and furrier, and he began designing women’s fashions himself.

The shop, of course, was called Fenwick’s, and John expanded it so he even had a branch in Bond Street in London. He died in 1905, leaving an estate of £40,000, and his sons continued developing Fenwick’s so that today it bills itself as Newcastle’s “ultimate shopping experience”.

Joseph Sager (1735-1806), eccentric

JOSEPH was the severely disabled son of a canon. He was well-educated in Oxford and went to London, where he became involved such “debauchery and extravagance” that he had to escape to Richmond and open a school.

He married four times, having at least nine children, and, because he was unable to walk, was well known in Richmond for always riding a donkey.

His last wife, Jane, outlived him and so she must have been responsible for his headstone which in Latin says: “Salisbury produced me, Oxford educated me, London ruined me; Ah! What a little space of earth is sufficient for a man however learned.”

Isabella Tinkler (1702-1794), bookseller

Isabella Tinkler, the Richmond bookseller, as drawn by James Cuit, the Richard artist

Isabella Tinkler, the Richmond bookseller, as drawn by James Cuit, the Richard artist

TIBBY set up a bookshop in Finkle Street which became renowned across North Yorkshire for its wide range of publications and also for being a place for customers to browse and discuss literary topics. Its presence helped Georgian Richmond develop its reputation as a very fashionable place.

She died aged 92 in 1794, and George Cuit (the famous Richmond artist who, of course, has an entry of his own in the book) created a fabulous aquatint of her surrounded by bound volumes, indicating her intelligence, but also with her knitting at hand and her clay pipe in her mouth, indicating her ordinariness.

Her shop was taken on by Matthew Bell whose son went on to found the R&R Chronicle.

John York (1758-1820), manservant

JOHN was born on a slave plantation in Jamaica and was one of two black house boys who sailed to London with the plantation owner’s daughter, Elizabeth Campbell. In 1769, she married John Yorke of the famous Richmond family – his father was the town’s MP who built Culloden Tower on a hilltop above The Green.

Richmond by moonlight in 1860. JohnYorkes Culloden Tower reaches up to the moon; Alan Rufus castle is on the top of the hill; beneath it is Henry Cookes papermill. All are profiled in Jane Hatchers new book, as is the artist, Jessey Joy, a

Richmond by moonlight in 1860. JohnYorke's Culloden Tower reaches up to the moon; Alan Rufus' castle is on the top of the hill; beneath it is Henry Cooke's papermill. All are profiled in Jane Hatcher's new book, as is the artist, Jessey Joy, a

The two black servants must have caused quite a stir in rural Richmond.

In 1772, keeping slaves was banned in England. Although the two boys were servants, rather than slaves, the Yorkes encouraged them to go their own ways. One, called “Richmond”, went to work for the curate of Muker, while the other, “York”, became a servant to the Hutton family at Marske Hall in Swaledale.

They educated him, baptised him – when he took the first name “John” – and appreciated his musical abilities.

In 1800, he married Hannah Barker from Kirkby Ravensworth and had seven children – on their birth certificates, he is referred to as “John York the African”.

He was probably into his sixties when he died, having become accepted and well regarded in the dale.

  • Richmondians: Nine centuries of men and women of this Yorkshire town, by Jane Hatcher, is available for £18.99 from Castle Hill Bookshop in Richmond, Tennants in Leyburn, and the North Yorkshire County Record Office in Northallerton. Email or call 01748-824243 for more details, including delivery.