fonds PRA - Records of the Procter, Richardson and Adams families of York

Identity area

Reference code



Records of the Procter, Richardson and Adams families of York


  • [1693]-2010 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.4 cubic metres

11 boxes

Context area

Name of creator

(fl 1684-)

Biographical history

The Richardson family were descended from Quaker William Richardson of Great Ayton, Yorkshire, and his wife Elizabeth Wilson. The couple married in 1684. William was a tanner by trade, an occupation continued by his son, Isaac (1707-1780), who owned a tanning yard at Bog Hall, Whitby, in the eighteenth century. Isaac married Isobel Vaisie of Whitby in 1732 and both served as ministers in the Society of Friends.

Two of Isaac and Isobel’s sons, John and Isaac, went on to establish successful businesses. John (1733-1781), built the house and tannery at Pew Dene in North Shields, founding what was to become the Low Lights Tannery. He bought the land from a fellow Quaker, John Walker, and named it after the low light navigation marker by the Tyne estuary.

John married Margaret Stead in 1760 and three of the couple’s sons later joined the family business: Isaac (1761-1810), William (1771-1842) and Henry (1778-1834). Their sister, Elizabeth (1777-1819), married Joseph Procter in 1799, uniting the Richardson and Procter families and Elizabeth’s son, John Richardson Procter, joined the Low Lights Tannery as a partner at the age of 21.

In 1784 John’s son Isaac founded a new tannery at Newcastle upon Tyne. After the site was damaged by fire in 1863, Isaac’s grandson, David, moved the business to Elswick on the northern bank of the river Tyne. The business, which became one the country’s leading leather producers, was known as E & J Richardson Ltd and later as Elswick Leather Works. It closed in the 1970s.

Isaac and Isobel’s other son Isaac (1738-1791) in turn lived in London for some years before settling in York in 1780 and establishing a tannery at Cherry Hill House. After his death in 1791 the business was continued by his sons Samuel and William, becoming Richardson Agricultural Merchants. Under William’s son Henry (1814-1893) the business began manufacturing chemical fertilisers, trading under the name of Henry Richardson & Co (York) Ltd.

In 1911 Tyndale Procter (1882-1937), the grandson of John Richardson Procter and his wife Lydia Richardson, married Emily Vasie Adams (1888-1990) at York. Emily was another descendent of William Richardson and Elizabeth Wilson of Great Ayton, thus uniting the Richardson, Procter and Adams families.

Name of creator

(fl 17th century-)

Biographical history

The Procter family had an estate at Clifford in Yorkshire in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Thomas Procter, who was Constable of Clifford c.1658, had served in the army of Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War and had converted to the Quaker faith in the 1650s. His grandson Emmanuel lived for a while at Clifford before settling at Yarm where he raised two daughters and a son, Joseph, who married Jane, widow of Andrew Wheldon.

It was the son of Joseph and Jane, also named Joseph, who linked the Procter and Richardson families when he married Elizabeth (1776-1819), daughter of John Richardson and Margaret Stead, in 1799. The Richardsons were descended from Quaker tanner William Richardson of Great Ayton. Joseph and Elizabeth settled in North Shields, where Elizabeth’s family owned the Low Lights Tannery at Pew Dene.

Their son was John Richardson Procter (1812-1888). He became a partner in the Low Lights Tannery at the age of 21 and was a prominent citizen of North Shields, serving as Poor Law Guardian, Town Councillor and River Tyne Commissioner. In 1847 he married Lydia Richardson (1812-1895), daughter of William Richardson, whose family owned a tannery at Cherry Hill near York, and his wife Martha Mildred whose family claimed descent from Protestant martyr William Tyndale. John’s mother Elizabeth and Lydia’s father William were cousins. Martha’s twin sister Mary married Quaker John Hustler.

John and Lydia had three children together: Henry Richardson (1848-1927), John William (1849-1925), and Lydia Mildred (1853-1887). Henry Richardson Procter was a notable industrial chemist who worked in the Leather Industries Department at Yorkshire College (later the University of Leeds), before becoming Professor of Applied Chemistry there.

In 1911 Tyndale Procter (1882-1937), the son of John William and his wife Elizabeth Dymond, married Emily Vasie Adams (1888-1990), another descendent of William Richardson of Great Ayton, uniting the Richardson, Procter and Adams families. Tyndale had been educated at the Quaker run Bootham School in York and later served as Treasurer of the school and of The Mount School, another Quaker school in the city.

Name of creator

(fl 1856-)

Biographical history

The Adams were a Quaker family connected through marriage to William Richardson of Great Ayton and his wife Elizabeth Wilson. William’s son, John (1698-1786), had married Lydia Vasie of Whitby (Lydia’s sister Isobel married John’s brother Isaac). Their son William (1736-1826) married Mary Muskett in 1774 and settled at an estate at Langbaurgh, near Great Ayton, which he had inherited from an uncle.

William’s daughter, Mary (1777-1818), married first Joshua Wilson of Sunderland, and second William Brown of North Shields, a corn miller who was in business with Joseph Procter, the husband of Mary’s second cousin Elizabeth Richardson, as ‘Brown, Unthank and Procter’ of Willington Mill.

Mary and William’s son Charles (1816-1864) married as his second wife Emily Spence and it was their daughter Emily (1858-1920) who in 1884 married Samuel Henry Adams (1856-1951), connecting the two families. In 1885 Samuel and his twin brother Moses established Adams Patent Sewage Lift Company at Peasholme Green, York. The company specialised in the manufacture of apparatus for sewage disposal works. It was renamed Adams Hydraulics in 1903.

Emily and Samuel had three children together: Norman James, Anne and Emily Vasie (1888-1990). In 1911 Emily Vasie married Tyndale Procter at York, uniting the Adams, Procter and Richardson families.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was gifted to the Borthwick Institute in 2015.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Records of the Richardson, Procter and Adams families, [1693]-2010, including correspondence; account books; journals; property papers concerning homes at North Shields, Whitby, Langbaurgh, Clementhorpe, and Huttons Ambo; records concerning family businesses at Great Ayton, North Shields, Elswick, Whitby, and York, including Adams Hydraulics and Richardson & Co; genealogical material, including family trees, biographical notes, birth, marriage and death certificates and press cuttings; sketch books; photographs; and family memorabilia, including items of clothing, infant garments and a Quaker bonnet.

The archive also includes papers relating to the Dymond, Mildred, and Hustler families.


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

The archive has not yet been catalogued, please contact the Borthwick Institute for further information.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Further records of the Adams family are deposited at Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums as the 'Adams Family Collection' (Reference: DF.ADZ).

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 25.04.17.




Accession area