- Apr 9, 2010This is really a response to message #888 by Pam Allman about Richard Riley. since he is/was my great great grandfather I append below what I know in th ehope that others canfill in the blanks. . . Ted Swart . .
What is known to me about Richard Riley:
Born: In the parish of St John's, Wapping , London, England about 1793.
Died: 1868 and buried on 25 March 1868 in the parish of St Peter's, Mossel Bay Cape, South Africa.
Formally Married: 6 Jan 1852 to Sarah Bassett-Knipe (born abt 1804 on St Helena and buried on 14 Oct 1884 at St Peter's, Mossel Bay, Cape, South Africa) on the Island of Tristan da Cunha. Actually married by mutual consent well before 1852 – due to the lack of a minister of religion in Tristan da Cunha.
Riley saw service in the Royal Navy and sailed as a cook on a small sloop from London on an unsuccessful sealing expedition to the Pacific. Before the voyage was completed the vessel was seized by an armed Argentinian Republican cruiser off South America. Riley was then forced to serve as a dragoon in the army of Beunos Aires.
Riley eventually escaped on the “Sarah” only to be ship wrecked on Tristan da Cunha in December 1820. Augustus Earle – artist, world traveller, distant cousin of Charles Darwin and, for a while, the artist on the Beagle – was accidentally stranded on Tristan da Cunha for eight months in 1824. He speaks of Richard Riley as being “a dapper little fellow” with intimate knowledge of South East London's docks – including well known places such as Deptford and Bugsby's hole.
In 1827 Riley and four of the island's bachelors petitioned a certain Captain Amm of the visiting schooner, “ Duke of Gloucester”, to find wives for them on the island of St Helena. With the assistance of Governor Walker of St Helena one negress and four mulatto volunteers of good character and health were found for the captain's petitioners. The visiting American sailing ship “Antartica” reported in 1829 that all were well and happy with the people of Tristan. And this is how Richard Riley came to marry his wife Sarah Bassett-Knipe.
By 1857, conditions in Tristan da Cunha had deteriorated considerably and, in response to an appeal by Bishop Gray to the British Government to assist in the evacuation of the of the starving island population, Richard Riley, his wife and family (including two grandchildren) together with several of the other islanders, accompanied the Rev W.F. Taylor (who had ministered to the islanders for 6 years) aboard the HMS Geyser to settle in the Cape Colony – notably at Riversdale and Aliwal (later renamed Mossel Bay).
Richard Riley's burial took place in Mossel Bay at St Peter's Anglican Church on the 25th of May 1868 at the age of 75 and his wife was also buried at St Peter;s on the 14th of October 1884 at the age of 80.