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FairfaxUpdate: The mystery of 'Uncle Tudie' has been solved!

Update: The mystery of ‘Uncle Tudie’ has been solved!

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The mystery has been solved!

The Sun Gazette recently ran coverage on the father-and-son duo of F.D. Richardson and his offpsring F.W., who for more than a century (1833 to 1935) served in office in Fairfax County, most frequently as Clerk of the Circuit Court.

The mystery? Why was F.W. (Frederick Wilmer) Richardson nicknamed “Tudie”?

It was a question that confounded plugged-in local historians and even staff at the clerk’s office. But Heather Bollinger, manager of the Historic Records Center and Historic Courthouse in the clerk’s office, kept at it and found the answer.


She noted that she recently heard from a great-grandson of F.W. Richardson.
“He recalled that the family called F.W. ‘Tudie’ because he went around tooting a horn or whistle when he was little,” Bollinger reported.

The nickname stuck into adulthood, although it became a more respectful “Uncle Tudie” when Richardson had advanced into maturity. Many pieces of correspondence to him in retained by the Historic Records Center are addressed that way.

F.W. Richardson served in a number of elected and appointed positions in Fairfax County from 1880 until his retirement in 1935. His father F.D. had done the same from 1833 until his death in October 1880, when he son was appointed to take his place.

While both men largely filled the Clerk of the Circuit Court position (which remains an elected post and is currently occupied by John Frey), they held other positions, as well, including clerk to the Board of Supervisors, clerk to the County Court and magistrate.

Fairfax County was a much less populated locale than today even back at the end of 1935 when Uncle Tudie retired. But it was much less populated in 1826, when the 18-year-old F.D. Richardson was tapped as assistant clerk of the county court, his first official role in governance. At the time, Fairfax’s population was fewer than 10,000 people, or less than one percent of its current population of 1.1 million.

The elder Richardson was an avid farmer and a captain in the Virginia Militia. He voted in favor of secession from the Union in 1861, “and courthouse lore has it that he took George Washington’s will down to Richmond for safekeeping,” a biography of the family in the Historic Records Center notes. Little else is known about his Civil War years.

Unlike his father, who died in office, F.W. Richardson decided in 1935 that the time had come for retirement. Unfortunately, it was a brief one, as he died on April 23, 1936.

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