Solomon Richards was an Irish soldier of the War of the Three Kingdoms and the Williamite War in Ireland. He is best known for his part in a failed attempt to relieve the Siege of Derry in 1689.
During the War of the Three Kingdoms, Richards served in Oliver Cromwell's own regiment. Richards took part in the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland and was granted 3,000 acres of land in County Wexford. He was appointed Governor of Wexford town in 1659, but following the Restoration the following year he was briefly imprisoned. He was released and allowed to keep his newly acquired lands as part of the Act of Settlement.
For the following twenty-seven years he lived quietly on his Irish estate. In September 1688, threatened with an invasion by his Dutch nephew William of Orange, the Catholic James II commissioned Richards to raise a new regiment for the English Army. As a nonconformist Protestant Richards was a slightly unusual choice to appoint to command a newly raised regiment, but James was trying to pursue a tactic of creating an alliance of Catholics and non-Anglican Protestants, both of whom had traditionally suffered restrictions due to the Penal Laws. Rather than raising his regiment in Ireland as might be expected, Richards recruited them from London and the Home Counties.
Following the Glorious Revolution, Richards' regiment was part of William III's reformed Army. By 1689 James had gone to Ireland where his Jacobite supporters were attempting to put down a rising by the Irish Protestants, who after a defeat at Dromore had withdrawn towards their few remaining strongholds such as Derry. Richards' regiment was part of a force under Colonel John Cunningham which sailed from Liverpool in an attempt to reinforce and rescue Derry from the advancing Jacobite Irish Army.
The two regiments of reinforcements reached Lough Foyle at the same time as the Governor Robert Lundy was suffering a serious defeat at the Battle of Cladyford, leading his Irish Protestant force in an attempt to prevent the Irish under Richard Hamilton crossing the River Finn and approaching Derry. As Lundy's poorly organised troops streamed back towards the city walls, he issued several contradictory orders to Cunningham and Richards. They were summoned to a council of war in the city, where Lundy informed them that it was pointless landing their troops as the city's defeat and surrender were imminent.
Richards and Cunningham therefore sailed for Britain without disembarking their troops as the Siege of Derry began in earnest. Once they arrived in England they were both dismissed from command of their regiments for dereliction of duty. Richards was replaced by George St George, another Irishman. As Derry was able to hold out until a second relief force under General Percy Kirke arrived, questions were raised in the English Parliament about Cunningham and Richards' conduct.
He died in 1691. Richards had a large number of children. His son Jacob Richards became an engineer officer, also serving in Ireland (1689–91) where he was wounded during the Siege of Carrickfergus. His grandson Michael Richards became Chief Engineer of Great Britain in 1711.