Richard was born on July 17th 1809 to Richard and Jane Penwarden at Launceston the eldest of five children. His father ran a saddlery business in High street and was also a member of the town council being elected Mayor on five occasions. Richard junior followed into his fathers business and later on in 1838 to the town council where in 1844-45 he to served a mayor of Launceston. However the three years later he was declared bankrupt. In the 1851 census he is shown as living in Westgate street and still working as a saddler along with his brother James and Sister Mary.