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Born in Totnes, Devon, and christened at St George’s Hanover Square, London, Frederick Austin Richardson (1818-1844) was a son of Major William Richardson and his wife, Eliza. In 1840, he married Catherine Boye, the daughter of Major General Charles Mack, of the East India Company. Two years later, in 1842, Frederick was appointed an Assistant Surgeon to the East India Company, and sent to Bombay (now Mumbai). At some point, he moved 100 miles east of Bombay to Ahmednagar, and became attached to the 2nd company, 1st Battalion, of the Bombay Artillery. However, he died of cholera on 4 August 1844. He was survived by his widow and two children, Austin and Frederika, the second of which was born only on 16 March 1845, seven months after his death. She gained a reputation as a writer under her married name of Frederika Macdonald.
It is uncertain why William Simpson chose to paint the tomb of Frederick Austin Richardson, but in so doing he provided a poignant memorial of a servant of the British Empire.