Richardson, who qualified MD at Harvard Medical School in 1877 was appointed Moseley Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School in 1907 and Surgeon-in-Chief at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he specialized in abdominal surgery.
He is remembered as inventor of the Richardson abdominal retractor.
Richardson married Margaret White Peirson in July 1879; they had six children. The six children were Edward Peirson, Mary Tuckerman, Maurice Howe, Henry Barber, Margaret, and Wyman Richardson. The eldest son Edward Peirson Richardson (1881–1944) became a noted physician and father of the lawyer Elliot Richardson. Mary Tuckerman Richardson (1882–1953) married Robert Walcott in 1907. Maurice Howe Richardson, II (1886–1961) became an insurance broker. Henry B. Richardson won two Olympic bronze medals and graduated from Harvard University in 1910. Margaret Richardson married Hall Roosevelt. Wyman Richardson (1896–1953) became a physician and noted author.