1. Grave:Hove Old CemeteryT. B. 322.
2. Book:The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918Pg.133
3. Memorial:The (1940) Scroll - WW1 Roll of Honour27C GQS

Awards & Titles:


Early Life :

William Pryor Richardson was born Brighton, Sussex, eldest son of Samuel Tom Barber Richardson, a greengrocer and later dealer in Cloth and an Outfitter and Sarah Jane Richardson (nee Pryor).

William first appears on the 1891 census as a four year old child, resident with both his parents at 9 New England Street, Brighton together with his brother Thomas Howard (b.1889) and two boarders. His sister, Mabel Selina, didn't quite make the census having been born later in the year of 1891. Sadly, in 1893, his mother Sarah passed away and one can only imagine the issues that had for Samuel in working and looking after three very young children. 1895 saw Samuel re-marry, taking Ellen Louisa Heather as his second wife.

The 1901 census shows the whole family resident at 29 Belfast Street, Hove. He had now had four siblings: Thomas, Mabel and two further by his second wife: Allen John (b.1896) and Ellen Constance (b.1897). A decade later, in 1911, now aged 24, William is working for the Borough Council as an Electrical Clerk. The census shows that his parents had two boys and two girls, but seem to have forgotten Thomas who had now flown the nest.

He married Elizabeth Jane Hutton (b.1877), 20th August, 1913 at Petersham, Surrey and moved into 14 Errol Road, Hove. It was here that they were gifted their only child, William Eric Richardson, born 21st May, 1915.

Family :

William's Great granddaughter, Emma Lescroart née Richardson, has been kind enough to share photographs of William, of which the portrait image above is one.

Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: 45th Anti-Aircraft Company Royal Garrison Artillery 

Action : Accident 

Accidents were a minor factor in the casualty list. Our definition is deaths resulting from activities that were not directly associated with 'active service'. We have excluded Naval Accidents which are seperately identified because of their numbers and impact. Many accidents involved the aviators, operating at the the limits of technology.

Detail :

875 & 122371 Sergeant William Pryor Richardson, Royal Garrison Artillery.

Prior to his Great War Service, he had spent four years with the Sussex Yeomanry.

He enlisted at Brighton on the 16th November, 1915 into the Sussex Royal Garrison Artillery for the duration of the War. Notably across the front page of his Service record is the bold comment "1-1-1918 Accidtly [sic] Killed," meaning William had spent 25 months employed in war (Home) service.

During this time, it had not taken him long to be promoted to Acting Bombadier (and a couple of months more to actually be paid for it). By September, 1916 he had been promoted substantive Corporal and just under a year later to Sergeant. He was posted with 45th Anti-Aircraft Company, R.G.A., having previously served with 41 Anti-Aircraft Company, which suggests he was employed on observational duties along the South Coast and instrumental in helping bring down enemy aircraft and balloons. In particular, at the time of his death he was working out of his Company's base at Old Haven Gun Station.

On New Year's day, 1918, the record shows he was accidentally killed at Sandwich, Kent. He had not been posted overseas, so he was no stranger to the The Siege Artillery School at Lydd and the artillery ranges across Kent, but a newspaper article found included as part of his service record provides the detail of the story which led to his death:

[No source - date stamped Dover 27th January, 1918]
"EXPLOSION AT RAMSGATE - 7 KILLED 24 INJURED. - HOUSES DAMAGED. - Seven men are reported to have been killed and about twenty-four more or less severely injured [??] Tuesday by the explosion of a mine in the neighbourhood of Pegwell Bay, between Deal and Ramsgate. A violent explosion was heard just before noon, and the vibration was distinctly felt several miles away. It appears that a mine was washed ashore early in the morning, and while a number of men were endeavouring to haul it in it exploded with tremendous force. Considerable damage was done to houses in the immediate neighbourhood. This is the second mine cast up during the past few days. It is believed that they have broken moorings during the recent heavy weather in the Channel.

At the inquest on Wednesday verdicts of "Death from Misadventure" were returned, the Coroner advising people not to meddle with mines. Dr. Hardman was the Coroner. The declared men were William P. Richardson, 31, Hove; William Bentham, 26, Southport; Harry Ashbridge, 29; Frederick Wain, 24, 47, Avenue-road, Ramsgate; J. Andus, 26, Southboro'; Leonard Crouch, 19, Stapleford, Notts. In the case of Bentham it was impossible positively to identify him, but he was known to be at the spot before the explosion, and he had been missing since, and one of the bodies was believed to be his. Ashbridge and Wain died after admission to hospital.

Frederick Tom Hilkins said he did not know it was a mine, and when it was first seen floating in the water it was suggested that it was either a tub of margarine or a float. He attached a rope to the object, and then went away to put on his socks and boots. He then heard an explosion. He had heard a suggestion that it was a mine. John Alfred Glover said he saw Bentham apparently tampering with some branch attachment, and Richardson kneeling down examining the object when it was lying on the beach. He was himself knocked off his feet.

The Coroner said the pity of this lamentable affair was that the sacrifice of life which occurred was altogether unnecessary, in consequence of not carrying out instructions. He did not think anyone living was to blame. Apparently there was some idea that there might be a salvage reward attached to it. The jury returned a verdict of "Death from misadventure," expressing the opinion that the authority to whom information was given of the finding of this object should have seen that no one touched it till it had been examined by the military authorities."

Included in his military service file is a document with more contemporary detailed accounts of the incident, written by Sergeant T. Vince. dated 3rd January, 1918 and addressed to Superintendent A. Stone. It shows the testimony deposited at the inquest, particularly the time 11:45hrs and the soldiers who were killed.

The site of this incident is referred to in different ways, but Ramsgate, Pegwell Bay, Sandwich Bay and near Old Haven are contextually the same place.

Probate RICHARDSON William Pryor of 14 Errol-road Hove Sussex 1 January 1918 at Sandwich Bay Kent Probate Lewes 27 March to William Robert Richardson registrar of births and deaths. Effects £452 16s. 9d.
To give that context, William Robert Richardson is William Pryor Richardson's uncle; his uncle registered his nephew's death.

In addition to his inclusion on masonic roll, he is further commemorated on the Rolls of Honour on the Brighton War Memorial and Hove Library War Memorial.

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Saint Cecilia No. 1636 E.C.Sussex

28th March 1916
31st October 1916
12th December 1916

Listed as a 29 year old "Corp in R.G.A." (Corporal in Royal Garrison Artillery) when initiated in 1916 into St. Cecilia Lodge. The contribution register shows a year of war service before the final note: "Killed Dec/17."

William's son, William Eric Richardson, attended the Royal Masonic School at Bushey, Hertfordshire 1928-1931 and was initiated into Old Masonians Lodge No. 2700 in 1938, remaining a member until at least 1993.

Source :

The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:

Additional Source:

Last Updated: 2021-03-05 11:53:31