Richard Baxter (Dick) Townshend (5D15)

Date of Birth: 8 Mar 1846
Date of Death: dsp 28 Apr 1923
Generation: 6th
Residence: Wadham College, Oxford
Father: Reverend Chambre Corker Townsend [5D01]
Mother: Oliver, Eliza Wilmot
  1. Baker, Letitia Jane (Dorothea)
Issue: None
See Also: Table VD ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Richard Baxter Townshend (Dick)

When his father died in 1852, Richard was only seven and his mother, maternal grandparents and aunt, Katherine Townshend [5D06], acted as guardians to him and his siblings until they came of age. Under the terms of his father’s will (1) dated 2 September 1846 he became entitled to an equal share of £2,000 devised to all the children, except his half-brother Horace Payne-Townshend [5D12] who inherited the entire Derry estate.

Married 28 July 1881 (2). Dorothea Baker (Dora) (3) was the youngest daughter of Rev Ralph Bourne Baker, Rector of Hilderstone and Rural Dean of Stone. Richard and Dorothea met at the marriage of his sister Alicia Townshend [5D48] to Edward Morgan at Canizaro House, Wimbledon, London in 1880.

Richard was educated at Repton and Trinity College, Cambridge (BA 1867. MA 1893), where he read classics.

In the same year that he qualified at Cambridge, Richard and his sisters Katherine Corker Townshend [5D17], Anne Townshend [5D20] and Susan Townshend [5D21] took out a 99 year lease (4) on 12 Ridgway Place, Wimbledon for £1,900 from Sir Edward Creasy on 11 November 1867. Their mother came to live in the house having sold hers in Clifton, Bristol. In his unpublished autobiography (5) Edward Mansel Townsend [630] described the house as "a comfortable, old-fashioned house of moderate size, a detached Villa...... The house stood on very high ground, practically the same level as the Common, which was said to be on a level with the cross of St.Paul’s Cathedral, and being the last house on the right at the bottom of Ridgway Place, below which, fields sloped away, right down to the Railway station, of those old days — there was a clear view from its windows, right across to the Crystal Palace, which showed as a beautiful object on Sydenham Hill, some 8 miles or so away, gleaming in the morning sunshine, or softly illuminated by its hundreds of internal lamps at night." It was in this house at Ridgway Place that Susan Townsend met her future husband, Brian Houghton Hodgson, when he stayed with her mother, Eliza, in 1869.

In 1869 aged 23 Richard went to the USA to seek his fortune. He spent the next ten years in Colorado, Texas and New Mexico trying his hand as a cattle rancher, trader and gold prospector. In the early days he found that there was good money to be made buying cattle in Texas and running them north for sale. Following this, he established a cattle ranch with a colleague in Black Squirrel Creek, El Paso County, Colorado and over time became a crack marksman and horseman. It was here living close by Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians that he was to study their way of life in detail. In about 1874 Richard sold the ranch in order buy wagons for transporting goods he thought would sell well in New Mexico. However, this was not a great success and bored with the inactivity, Richard returned to Colorado in 1876 to prospect for gold in the San Juan Mountains in the area of Silverton. The following year he returned to New Mexico and thence to England in 1877.

It was whilst in England that Richard met his bride to be but having no job and no money he decided to return to Colorado in 1878 to make his fortune. This time he started by trading with those who were working the silver mines at Leadville. Despite the opportunities to make money out of mining, Richard took a more cautious line and appreciated that good money could also be made trading horses and mules which were in high demand amongst the prospectors. When last in New Mexico he had heard that horses could be bought cheaply in Texas for considerably less than in Colorado and he seized the opportunity. In early 1879, Richard with ten cowboys and a cook headed north for Colorado driving a large herd of horses. On the way they were stopped by Billy the Kid who threatened to steal all the horses but eventually let them pass. Arriving back at Leadville, Richard sold the horses for a handsome profit, returned to Texas for more and continued with the business until later in 1879 when he returned to England having made some money.

Richard was a keen observer of people, events and developments around him. His fair, curly locks, pink cheeks and bright blue eyes belied a steely and determined character. He wrote three books (the 'Tenderfoot' series) about his experiences in the USA and these, along with many photographs that he took, constitute an important historical record of developments in the West. Many of his photographs and a number of artefacts he acquired are housed in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. (See also)

On his return to England in 1879, Richard took up a teaching position at Bath College. He remained there until he was appointed tutor at Wadham College in 1891. Described as having a brick-red weather-beaten face, bright blue eyes and a shock of grey hair, Richard spent the rest of his life in Oxford. Being slightly deaf he took to riding his tricycle around the city with the bell constantly ringing in the belief that people would hear him as he could not hear them! His deafness probably resulted from his passion for guns and shooting.

Through a close friend of his wife's sister, Richard met Edward Elgar sometime shortly after 1889 and they struck a deep friendship. Richard was a very keen golfer and he taught Elgar to play. Elgar, fascinated by the tales that Richard had to tell of his experiences in the West, dedicated the third variation of the 'Enigma Variations' to 'RBT'. In 1921 Richard published a small book called 'Inspired Golf' and this was recently transcribed and edited (2004) by Mr Kevin Allen with particular emphasis on Richard's relationship with Elgar (6).

With his wife, Dorothea, Richard compiled and edited 'An Officer of the Long Parliament' which was published in 1892. His copy of the book is in the possession of Colonel John Townsend [5A26] along with many letters and other documents. The book contains many additions and corrections and these have been incorporated into these records.

Page 58 of the book The Memoirs and Diaries of Judith Isobel Chavasse by Dr Rachel Finnegan, published in 2024, records that Judith became a close friend of Richard and Dorothea, following their visit to Judith's childhood home at Newcourt in 1891.

Page XIX of the 1896 Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society lists Richard as a member along with his kinsmen Horace Townshend [5D23], Charlotte Payne-Townshend [5D27], Horatio Hamilton Townsend [6B05] and Edward Richard Townshend [6C04]. This particular journal contains a number of contributions from Richard's wife concerning the Clonakilty Council Book in which there are many entries relating to the family between 1715 and 1807.

The April 1901 Irish Census records that Richard was a boarder at house 11 in Shore Road, Maghera, Down, Northern Ireland, along with fellow academics John Arthur Ruskin Munro,Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, Professor Edward Johns Urwick, sub warden of Toynbee Hall, London, Thomas Lowndes Bullock, Professor of Chinese, University of Oxford and formerly HM Consul in China and John Frederick Stenning, Dean, Fellow and Lecturer in Divinity and Hebrew, Wadham College, Oxford. The house consisted of 21 rooms and was owned by Charles Brewtser, a retired hotelier.

John Sealy Townsend [6B30], was Fellow and Wykeham Professor of Experimental Physics, New College, Oxford at the same time that Richard was at Wadham.

Richard was a member of the Oxford Camera Club.

In her autobiography, ‘Anything Once’ Dorothy Petrie Townsend (Carew) [6A29] recalls frequently visiting Richard and Dorothea at Oxford whilst she was an undergraduate at Somerville College.

Richard’s grandfather, Major General Oliver died on 11 January 1854. In his will, dated 25 February 1853 (7), he devised his personal estate to his trustees who were to invest the same and pay the interest to his wife, Marianne, during her lifetime and after her death to his daughter Eliza Townshend (Richard’s mother). After her death the residue was to be divided equally amongst her surviving children share and share alike.

Likewise he devised his real estate in Suffolk and Kerry to his trustees who were to pay the yearly rents to his wife during her lifetime and after her death to Eliza. After her death when the children came of age, or if the daughters married before then, they were to receive their share of the real estate or the rents thereof, or if the real estate was sold they were to receive their share of the principal or the interest of the proceeds.

Richard’s mother died on 17 August 1906 and thus his share (£2,431) of the Oliver estate passed to the trustees of his marriage settlement - WM Baker (wife’s uncle) and Rev A Penny.

(1) Derry Papers 5D01/6. Will of Chambre Corker Townsend dated 2 September 1846 with codicil dated 5 April 1851. Probate 9 Sep 1852.

(2) Entry in the diary of Agnes Townsend [334] - 'March 8th 1846 Mrs CC Townsend had a son -Rd.'

(3) Dorothea died on 30 November 1930. She was a prolific author and wrote many books covering a wide variety of subjects.

(4) Derry Papers 5D15/1. Agreement for the lease of 12 Ridgway Place, Wimbledon, dated 11 November 1867. Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy was Chief Justice of Ceylon. Richard and his sisters were living with their mother at 6 Rodney Place, Clifton, Bristol at the time.

(5) 'A Protestant Auto-Biography by the Rev E Mansel Townshend'

(6) Copies of the book can be purchased from the Elgar Museum. The Elgar Birthplace Museum, Crown East Lane, Lower Broadheath, WORCESTER. WR2 6RH. Telephone 01905 333224.

(7) Derry Papers OL/8, 8A, 8B, 9, 9A. The wills of Major General Oliver and his wife, Marianne, and the disposal of their estates.

The introduction to the University of Oklahoma Press reprint of "A Tenderfoot in Colorado", written by Richard is included in his 'Scrapbook'. It is a fascinating, detailed account of his life and is essential reading if you wish to learn more about a one of the most colorful characters in the Townsend family.