Richard Dawson (IV)

Parents:  Richard Dawson (III) and Elizabeth Forbister.
Child: Richard Dawson (V) (married Elizabeth Fox)


Richard Dawson (IV) was baptized on 23 October, 1763, at St Lawrence, Ramsgate Parish, Kent.  His father was Richard Dawson (III) and his mother was Elizabeth Forbister.  His parents never married.  In 1765 Elizabeth married Isaac Stead.   Richard’s father married Elizabeth Schumacher but they do not appear to have any children.

Richard spend his adult life near Birchington, Kent.  He married Ann Hughes and had nine children, including a son also called Richard Dawson (V). He died at age 73, in 1837.


  • British Kings:  George III, 1760-1820.  George IV, 1820-1830. William IV, 1830-1839.
  • Captain Cook found East Coast of Australia – 1770
  • American War of Independence – 1775 – 1783
  • Australia was first settled by the British – 1788
  • French Revolution – 1788 1799
  • Battle of Waterloo  – 1815
  • Victoria (Australia)  founded – 1835


Richard (IV)’s lived a long life, dying at the age of 73.  He worked as an agricultural labourer, living in the same area in which he was born, in the Thanet region, in Kent.  His life ranged over significant historial events that shaped the modern world, including the independence of America, the French Revolution and the settlement of Australia.  While we could imagine much of this might bypass a small farmer in rural Kent, three of Richard’s sons were involved in the Battle of Waterloo and one of those emigrated to Australia in 1829.

Richard was born in a village called Acol near Birchington, Kent, UK, in 1763.  He was baptized, on 23 October, 1763, at the St Lawrence, Ramsgate Parish, as ‘Richard Forbister’.  He was the son of Elizabeth Forbister and his father was recorded as Richard Dawson (III)[1].  However the two did not marry.  Richard took on the name of his father and became Richard Dawson (IV).  Elizabeth went on to marry a widower, Isaac Stead, in 1765 and had four more children at St Lawrence.[2]

Richard’s father married Elizabeth Schumacher, but they do not appear to have any children[6], which means Richard would have had no direct siblings.  He probably had no contact with his mother or her later other children.  Richard took on his father’s surname and so was most probably brought up by him, as would have been common practice in that time.

(See this link for a ‘wrong turn’ in the research for RD(I)’s ancestors).

We do not know the story behind Richard’s birth and no doubt never will, but it is interesting to compare it to the story that Richard (II)’s great granddaughter told about the Dawsons being descended from an illegitimate son of the Earl of Portarlington.  Little is known of Richard’s father, Richard (III). But it does not appear, at this stage, that he was an earl nor from Portarlington in Ireland.  It appears that he came, as did all the Dawsons, from Kent.

Richard spent much of his life living in the Birchington area, as all of his children were born there.  He worked as an agricultural labourer as his family may also have for a number of generations, since they all lived in or near small villages in the same region.   He lived to age 73 and died in Birchington in 1837.

Richard Dawson (IV) and Ann Hughes

Richard Dawson married Ann Hughes on 17th May 1783, at All Saints in Birchington.  Witnesses of the marriage were Thomas West and Jane Darby[3].  Richard was 20 at the marriage and Ann was 21.  Once again, as happens so often, their first child (Sarah) was born within 9 months of their marriage.  But the marriage seemed successful.  Richard and Ann went on to have nine children, all baptized in Birchington, Kent.

-         Sarah bp 13th July 1783 Birchington
o  two months after her parents marriage
-         Richard (V) (qv) bp 24 April 1785 Birchington 
o  married Elizabeth Fox
-         Mary bp 2 December 1787 Birchington.
o  married John Shelvey
-         William bp 11 October 1789 Birchington.
o  Involved in Battle of Waterloo, mentioned in medal roll[4]
-         John Hughes (I) bp 25 December 1791 Birchington.
-         Stephen bp 14 February 1794 Birchington.
-         Thomas bp 21 February 1796 Birchington.
o  Drummer boy during Battle of Waterloo. mentioned in medal roll
-         Elijah (qv) bp 12 November 1797 Birchington.
o  Involved in Battle of Waterloo, mentioned in medal roll
o  married Anne Wakeham
o  emigrated to WA in 1829[5]
-         Edmond bp 1 December 1799 Birchington.

It is interesting to see that they had a son called ‘John Hughes’.  The Hughes most probably comes from his mother’s maiden name, a common practice up to the 20th century.  This John Hughes is not our John Hughes (who is the son of Richard Dawson (V))


Sources: Gillian Dean, email correspondent who has been researching parish records in the UK. Written by IA Dawson – August 2010

[1] GD, quoting parish records, email 23 July 2010 [2] GD, email 23 July 2010 [3] GD, quoting parish records, email July 2010. [4] GD, email 11 July 2010 [5]GD, email 6 July 2010

[6] VW, oral, 29 August 2010.


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