Alexander Robert Richardson

Alexander Robert Richardson (4 July 1847 – 2 May 1931) was an Australian pastoralist and politician. He made a fortune through the development of pastoral leases in the North-West, and later served in both houses of the Parliament of Western Australia. He was a member of the Legislative Council from 1887 to 1890 and a member of the Legislative Assembly from 1890 to 1897, and served as a minister in the government of John Forrest.

Alexander Richardson
Alex Robert Richardson.jpg
Member of the Legislative Council
of Western Australia
In office
14 June 1887 – 21 October 1890
Preceded byMcKenzie Grant
Succeeded byNone (abolished)
Member of the Legislative Assembly
of Western Australia
In office
4 December 1890 – 26 April 1897
Preceded byNone (new creation)
Succeeded byE. T. Hooley
ConstituencyDe Grey
Personal details
Born(1847-07-04)4 July 1847
Islington, London, England
Died2 May 1931(1931-05-02) (aged 83)
South Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Early lifeEdit

Richardson was born in Islington, London, England, to Jane (née Anderson) and Thomas Elliot Richardson.[1] His parents were Scottish (his father being a Presbyterian minister), and before living in London had been resident in Tasmania, where Richardson's older brother, John Elliott Richardson (also a member of parliament) was born.[2] Soon after Richardson's birth, the family left for Victoria, settling in Portland. His father eventually left the ministry and purchased a newspaper, the Portland Guardian. Richardson worked on the Guardian for a brief period, and then went to work on some of the nearby pastoral leases owned by his relatives.[3]

Business careerEdit

In 1864, Richardson and his brother were involved in the formation of the Portland Squatting Co., which sought to exploit liberal land regulations in other colonies. They sailed to Western Australia the following year with 1,600 sheep, arriving in Cossack and later venturing further in the Pilbara, where they established Pyramid Station. After a few years, Richardson and his brother bought out their other partners, and expanded their holdings to include runs along the Fortescue River. In 1874, Richardson moved to a farming property in Serpentine (near Perth), although he retained (and continued to expand) his property in the North-West. In 1880, he severed commercial ties with his brother and with several others (including two other future MPs, William Paterson and Samuel Elliott) formed the Murray Squatting Company. The company subsequently developed a property in the Kimberley, which became known as Yeeda Station; they later acquired additional properties in the same region.[3]


In 1887, Richardson was elected to the Legislative Council as the member for the Northern District, replacing McKenzie Grant. He remained a member of that body until its dissolution in 1890 (with the advent of responsible government),[1] and was then elected to the Legislative Assembly at the 1890 general election, representing the seat of De Grey.[4] Richardson was re-elected to De Grey unopposed at the 1894 election, and later in the year was appointed Commissioner for Crown Lands in the Forrest ministry, replacing William Marmion.[1] As lands commissioner, he saw several important pieces of legislation through parliament and played a key part in the establishment of the Agricultural Bank of Western Australia. However, Richardson resigned from parliament (and consequently from the ministry) in April 1897, following a policy disagreement with John Forrest. At one stage, he had been regarded as a potential successor to Forrest as premier.[3]

Later lifeEdit

After leaving parliament, Richardson was made a trustee of the Agricultural Bank, serving in that capacity until 1921.[1] He had early served two terms as the president of the Royal Agricultural Society (in 1889 and 1894).[5] Richardson retired to South Perth in 1922, and died there in 1931, aged 83. He had married Ellen Bates Wellard in 1874, with whom he had twelve children. One of his daughters married Garnet Wood, who was also an MP.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Alexander Robert Richardson – Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  2. ^ John Elliott Richardson – Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Clement, Cathie (1988). "Richardson, Alexander Robert (1847–1931)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 11. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  4. ^ Black, David; Prescott, Valerie (1997). Election statistics : Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, 1890-1996. Perth, W.A.: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project and Western Australian Electoral Commission. ISBN 0730984095.
  5. ^ Past Presidents Archived 29 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine, RASWA. Retrieved 29 December 2016.