In 1684, Richard and a party of fellow traders working for Byrd set out on a spring expedition. The Appomattox River, at the edge of Richard's lands, led southward to Fort Henry- less than 10 miles away. Since 1646 this fort had marked the dividing line between the British colony and Indian lands; travelers passing through had to have permission to trade with the other side. The commander of the fort was Abraham Wood, who ran his own lucrative indian trade, but by 1676 Wood had passed down the position to his son-in-law, Peter Jones. (Later the town which rose around the fort took on his name- Petersburg.)
The men in Richard's party would follow the Occaneechi trail southward. We know from a letter from William Byrd to a friend that they were also to trade with indians west of the trail itself. The men traveling with Richard were surely well known to him; they had likely traveled and traded together over the years and knew each other well.
Richard was about 28 years old. He had been married to Mary Elizabeth Puckett, daughter of his neighbors John Puckett and wife Anne Jeffreys, for less than a dozen years. Both of his wife's parents had died several years before, but her brothers had inherited the land, which lay next to Richards, and likely helped Mary Elizabeth with the crops when her husband was away trading. Richard's eldest son, Richard, was about 10, William was about 5. It is possible there were two younger children; if so little Elizabeth was still a toddler, and John a baby.
John Sturdivant- referred to by Bryd as "old Sturdivant" was likely a neighbor of Richard's- he had 600 acres on Hatchers Run, a branch of Swift Creek, north of the Appomattox, and near where Richard lived. However, He also had over 3500 acres on the other side of the Appomattox in Charles City County- making him a sizeable landowner. He had been trading with the Indians since at least 1673. In 1676 He had been a vocal supporter of Nathaniel Bacon, and was "exempted from pardon" in a proclamation by the Governor, however this was revoked by the King's commissioners, so, we can assume that in the end he escaped punishment. John was traveling with one of his sons (likely the eldest) leaving his wife Sarah, son Daniel, and several younger sons at home.
Thomas Shippey II was an experienced trader, who we know had been on an expedition in 1672 with Edward Hatcher and John Davis. Helived in the Bermuda Hundred and was the son and heir of Thomas Shippey I who came from England to Virginia in 1620 on the "Supply." His father had been well respected in the colony and was one of the persons appointed to inspect the quality of tobacco for export from the region. Thomas Shippey II was about 50 years old at this time; he had a wife named Martha, and he had a daughter, Martha, who had married Edward Stratton III in 1678 at St. John's Parish church. He also had a son, Thomas Shippey III who would die in 1688.
John Milner was about 40 years old. We believe he had married Ann Parker, a widow who had 3 children; Ann, Mary, and William.
Of the sixth trader, Hugh Cassell, I can find nothing.