GLANVILLE RICHARDS, William Urmston Searle (b.1856). Genealogy album


GLANVILLE RICHARDS, William Urmston Searle (b.1856). Genealogy album

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CONVICTED FORGER OF GENEALOGY MANUSCRIPTS

GLANVILLE RICHARDS, William Urmston Searle (b.1856), genealogist. A folio album compiled by the genealogist William Urmston Searle Glanville Richards detailing his family history through numerous letters (53) to and from relatives; hand drawn family trees and manuscript notes; cuttings; certificates of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths; funeral cards; photographs; and locks of hair etc. The arrangement of material centres upon the Richards family and the related family branches of Chaster, Taylor, Searle, Maddock, and Dickinson. Original items range in date from the 1790s to the 1920s, including certified copies of documents of earlier dates. Internal evidence suggests that the album was compiled from the early 1890s onwards, while the latest item directly relating to Glanville Richards is a letter to him dated 9th December 1916. Loosely inserted half way through is a section of pages (smaller than the containing album and headed Book No.2) inscribed by W.U.S. Glanville Richards “Dickinson; Searle etc. Letters & other M.S. relating to the family. Unfortunately a good many, & much earlier letters, were destroyed. I hope & trust that into whose hands, in course of time, this collection falls, the possessor will take as much care of it as I have done.”

Some of the more interesting relatives of Glanville Richards who are given special attention in the album include the father and son astronomers Thomas and Thomas Glanville Taylor; Admiral Thomas Searle C.B. (1777–1849); and Captain Richard Dickinson C.B. (1786-1840), with much concerning his command of the Genoa at the battle of Navarin, and his subsequent court-marshal and honourable acquittal (mainly copy letters and cuttings). Most items have been tipped-in, pasted or bound in to the album, and some are loose. Condition of the contained items is very variable, ranging from fine to poor. The album is bound in worn half leather, re-backed with the original spine re-laid. A modern annotated inventory of the album contents comes with this item. 

William Urmston Searle Glanville Richards was a genealogist who became notorious for having tampered with manuscripts in the British Museum, for which he was tried in 1891, found guilty and sentenced to two months in prison.  He was born in 1856 in Camden, London, to bank clerk William Glanville Richards (his son William notes in the album “my father took the additional family name of Glanville, and was married as such”), and Adolphina Frederica Anne Richards nee Dickinson. His father died in 1867 and his mother married secondly Henry Sach in 1868, shortly after which William began collecting genealogical material relating to the Glanville family. His study of the Glanvilles was published in 1882 as Records of the Anglo-Norman House of Glanville from A.D. 1050 to 1880  London: Mitchell and Hughes, which drew criticism from the legal historian F.W. Maitland as containing information that was ‘incorrect or very questionable’. Worse was to come when he was found to have tampered with BM manuscripts, the full story of which is told in C.J.Wright’s paper published in 1986.

Glanville Richards married Edith Bennett in Portsea in 1885, by whom he had three daughters and a son born between 1885-1892. The present album appears to have been compiled after Glanville Richards’ prison sentence had been served, drawing from many letters and other original documents already in the family collections, and from contemporary material from the 1890s-1920s.

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