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Richmond is an important market town in Yorkshire. The town takes its name from the Norman "Riche-mont", meaning "strong hill", for shortly after the Conquest its new overlord Alan the Red built a fine stone castle on a hill overlooking the town. The castle stands to this day.

Richmond's principal manufactures are lead from the nearby mines and knitted garments made from the wool of the Swaledale sheep. This wool, though not of the finest quality, has the useful property of being naturally waterproof. It is bought from farmers and brought into the town by wool broggers, who sell it on to individuals, and indeed whole families, who expertly knit it up into stockings and caps. Richmond is some mile or more from Easby Abbey, a foundation of John Uskglass.

The farm overseer who in 1809 unexpectedly turns up at Sir Walter Pole's house and presses money on Stephen Black under the misapprehension that he is settling a gambling debt, is from Richmond[26]. It is also the birthplace of Vinculus's father, Clegg.