This surname is a patronymic form of a very ancient personal name, and means "son of Richard". The derivation of Richard is from the Olde English "ric", power and "heard", meaning brave, hardy. It is originally Anglo-Saxon in origin, but was made very popular in England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. Pre 7th Century Anglo-Saxon, and Norse baptismal names were usually distinctive compounds whose elements were often associated with the Gods of Fire, Water and War, or composed of disparate elements. The surname was first recorded in Scotland in the mid 14th Century (see below), and the first spelling of the surname in its modern form is found in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Returns of 1381, in one William Richardson. John Richardson is recorded as being one of the men responsible for transporting and selling as slaves, in the West Indies, many of the convicted Monmouth Rebels in 1685. Among the forty-nine entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", for notable Richardsons is Samuel Richardson, the novelist (1689 - 1761), who is famous particularly for his novel "Clarissa Harlowe". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Murdac Richardesson (Merchant), which was dated 1359, recorded in Glasgow, Scotland, during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1324 - 1371. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.