Richardson, William Adams, 1821–96, American jurist and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, b. Tyngsboro, Mass. Admitted to the bar in 1846, he helped to codify the statute law of Massachusetts in 1855. Appointed Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (1869), he became Secretary in 1873. Following an investigation into contracts awarded for tax collections by which the Treasury was defrauded, Richardson was censured and forced to resign. President Grant, however, appointed (1874) him to the U.S. Court of Claims, of which he became chief justice in 1885.