At the end of his apprenticeship in 1756 one of his father's friends, Thomas Goldney, sent Richard on a business trip to Shropshire to visit the ironworks of Abraham Darby II at Coalbrookdale. This visit changed the course of Richard's life as it was here that he met and fell in love with Hannah, Abraham Darby's eldest daughter. They were married in 1757 and Richard took over the running of the iron and coal works at Ketley and Horsehay, living at Ketley Bank a few miles from Coalbrookdale. He prospered in the business, becoming a partner, and the couple had two children, William and Hannah Mary, but their happiness was cut short when Hannah died of measles in 1762 when she was only 27.
|Bank House, Ketley|
Richard and his children moved into Dale House in the centre of Coalbrookdale where there were plenty of Darby family and other Quakers to look after them. After eighteen months as a widower Richard was married in 1763 to Rebecca Gulson, one of his late wife's closest friends, and went on to have three more sons with her, Michael, Richard and Joseph. Also in 1763 Abraham Darby died and Richard took charge of the whole Coalbrookdale company during the minority of his brothers-in-law. In 1768 when Abraham Darby was 18 Richard turned the business over to him and returned to Ketley but had to take charge for a while again in 1789 when Abraham died of scarlet fever.
|Dale house, Coalbrookdale|
|Coalbrookdale at night|
However in 1803 Rebecca Reynolds died and later in the same year so did Richard's son William. Richard felt that after more than 40 years in Coalbrookdale it was time to move on. He signed his shares in the business over to his remaining sons and moved back to his home town of Bristol. At the age of nearly 70 he was determined to spend the rest of his days acting as 'his own executor'. He strongly disapproved of making charitable bequests by will but believed that it was his duty to do all the good he could during his life. In modern terms his donations totalled millions of pounds. He did not limit his donations to Quakers but gave large sums to many different bodies and individuals although always as anonymously as he could, working through agents. Inevitably in time his munificence became known but he refused all thanks, directing gratitude to God, the giver of all good.
In the late summer of 1816 Richard Reynolds travelled to Cheltenham Spa to take the waters for his health and died there in September aged 80. He was buried at the Quaker burial ground in Rosemary Street in Bristol followed to the grave by people of all classes and persuasions and by many of the poor of Bristol to whom he had been so generous.