Ricord, John (ca. 1812–1861)

By: Andrew F. Muir

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

John Ricord, whose name was probably Jean Baptiste Ricord-Madianna, Texas state official, lawyer, and world traveler, son of Jean Baptiste Ricord de Madianna and the poetess Elizabeth Stryker, was born on September 5, 1812 or 1813, in New Jersey, probably at Belleville. His father was a doctor and naturalist. He grew up at the home of his maternal grandparents in Bellville after his mother and father separated. He began the study of law in 1829 in the office of his uncle, James Stryker, and was admitted to the bar in Buffalo, New York, on March 12, 1833. In 1826 another uncle, John Stryker, encouraged him to go to Texas. Ricord reached Velasco in the summer of 1836 and was immediately retained by President David G. Burnet as his private secretary. Ricord served in the same capacity under President Sam Houston, who rewarded him with appointments first as chief clerk in the State Department and later as district attorney of the Fourth Judicial District.

In 1837 Ricord left Texas; he never again settled down. He practiced law at various times in New York, Florida, and Arizona; he joined an emigrant train to Oregon, worked for a time with the Hudson Bay Company, attempted quicksilver mining in California, and later participated in the gold rush. He was twice in the Hawaiian Islands; on his first trip he swore allegiance to Kamehameha III and served for a time as attorney general of the kingdom; six years later he returned as United States vice consul. In Hawaii he drafted a code of laws and drew up a constitution for a Hawaiian constitutional monarchy. He spent short periods in Siam, the Malay states, and the Philippines and tried to obtain a government position in British Columbia.

In the winter of 1859–60 Ricord was in Austin and persuaded the Texas legislature to pass two acts granting him land and salary for his early immigration and services to the republic. He then returned to New Jersey and after a few months set out for Liberia. He died in Paris on March 26, 1861, at the home of his uncle Dr. Philippe Ricord, personal physician to Napoleon III. Ricord is believed to have been buried in the Cimitière du Père Lachaise.

Ralph Simpson Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom (3 vols., Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1938–67). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Andrew F. Muir, “Ricord, John,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 24, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/ricord-john.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995