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We are grateful to William (Bill) Pallister Richardson, great grandson of Margaret Pallister, for kindly providing information on this page.

Margaret Pallister [p.]

Margaret Pallister was the third child of William Pallister & Mary Ann Welch christened 26th February 1849 at St Bartholemew’s church, Thornley (by Kelloe), Co Durham.

In 1851 Margaret was living with her parents at Wingate, Co Durham.

By 1861 the family had moved to Usworth, Co Durham & Margaret’s father’s job description had changed from a stone worker to a coal miner.

Margaret, aged 20, married Robert Richardson on January 1st, 1868 at the parish church, Jarrow. Witnesses at the wedding were Ellen & William Saxton. Robert was christened November 18th, 1846 at Barnard Castle, the son of Mary Robinson & Thomas Richardson, a brick & tile maker.

In 1871 Margaret & Robert were living at Middle Row, Usworth with children Thomas (2) & Isabella P (1). Robert was a miner.

In 1872, another child, William Pallister Richardson, was born who sadly died soon after birth. The following year Margaret & Robert had another son also named William Pallister Richardson.

Margaret & Robert were living at 51 Railway Terrace, Little Usworth in 1881 with children Thomas, Isabella P, William P, Annie (5), Robert (3) & Ralph (11 months). Robert was now a deputy overman at the colliery & their son Thomas was described as a trapper in the coal mine. The job of a ‘trapper’ was to open and close doors to allow coal trams to pass through. This was essential to control the circulation of air in the mine tunnels. The job often involved sitting completely alone in the dark for up to 12 hours. Thomas would have been paid about a shilling a day.

Family group c1885

From left: Ralph, Thomas, mother Margaret, Annie, John Robinson (front), Isabella, William, Robert (front)

(Photo courtesy of Pamrichardson Ancestry family tree)

On March 2nd, 1885 Robert was killed in an explosion at Usworth Colliery which took 42 lives. A memorial to the disaster was erected at Holy Trinity, Usworth Parish Church.

Memorial at Usworth to the 42 miners killed in 1885

Robert was buried on March 26th at Usworth Holy Trinity.

Robert's death certificate

The children of Margaret Pallister & Robert Richardson were:

p. Thomas Richardson born June 6th, 1868 at Usworth; died October 22nd, 1928 at St Thomas’s Hospital, London
p. Isabella Pallister Richardson born December 12th, 1869 at Usworth; died August 22nd,  1944 & buried at Holy Trinity, Usworth, Co Durham.
p. William Pallister Richardson born Jan-March 1872 at Usworth; died Jan-March 1872 at Usworth
p. William Pallister Richardson born February 25th, 1873 at Usworth; died August 8th, 1930 at Durham City, buried August 12th, 1930 at St Margaret’s Cemetery, Durham
p. Annie Richardson born June 19th, 1875 at Usworth; died April 15th, 1944 at Manor View, Washington, Co Durham
p. Robert Richardson born November 13th, 1877 at Usworth; died April 21st, 1930 at Chester-le-Street
p. Ralph Pallister Richardson born April 30th, 1880 at Usworth; died February 10th, 1945 at Lynnor, Village Lane, Washington & buried at Holy Trinity, Usworth
p. John Robinson Richardson born August 17th,  1882 at Usworth; died January 3rd, 1949 & buried at Holy Trinity, Usworth, Co Durham


Son Thomas married Mary Ellinor Purvis in 1888. Thomas became active in politics & was elected MP for Whitehaven, Cumbria from 1911-1918. He & his brother William fought for improved conditions for miners.

Widowed Margaret was still living at Railway Terr in 1891, now at number 11, & was working as a dressmaker. Children at home were Isabella, William P, a putter in the coal mine, Robert, a trapper in the mine, Ralph & youngest son John R (9). A ‘putter’ takes the tubs of coal from where they are mined to where the horses or machinery transport them to the shaft. Also living with them was John Richardson (60), brother of Margaret’s late husband, also a miner, & a boarder Richard Berkley (25), a stoneman (excavates stone rather than coal in the mine).

Margaret remarried by licence on January 1st,1892, at the Primitive Methodist chapel, Jarrow, South Shields. Her second husband was widower John Patterson, who was described as a 47 year old engineman. John, born at Whitehaven, Cumberland, was living at 8 Railway terr, Usworth Colliery at the time of the marriage & was unable to sign the register. He was the son of James Patterson, a deceased coal miner. Margaret gave her address as 7 Palmer St, Jarrow.

There followed a succession of marriages of Margaret & Robert’s children. Daughter Isabella married Leinan Gaunt, a coal miner, in 1894. Son William married Esther Howey in 1895 & was to become very active in the Miner’s Union in Usworth & became Treasurer of the Miner’s Federation of Great Britain. Of William & Esther’s 10 children the first 5 sadly died in infancy.  Daughter Annie married Ralph Middleton, a bricklayer, in 1896.

In 1901 Margaret & John were living at 11 Pensher View, Usworth & John was a winding engineman above ground. John's age was given as 60 on the census! Margaret’s 2 sons Ralph (listed as Robert) & John were living with them & working as a general labourer & horsekeeper below ground respectively. Son Robert Richardson had married Sarah Ann Purvis in 1900.

John (surname now given as Paterson) died on March 28th, 1903, aged 58, at 43 Douglas Terr, Usworth. The informant of the death was his son John Paterson.

Margaret & Robert's son, Ralph Pallister Richardson, was to marry Frances Carr in 1905 & in the same year his brother John Robinson Richardson married Elizabeth Ann Mullier.

Margaret died on October 19th, 1908, aged 59 at Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary, her home address was given as 6 Cooperative Terrace, New Washington. The informant of the death was her son, William Pallister Richardson of 29 Railway Terr, Usworth. Margaret was buried at Usworth on October 22nd, 1908, after a service at Usworth Primitive Methodist Chapel.

Memorial of son William Pallister Richardson & his wife Esther in St Margaret's cemetery, Durham


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