I had recently posted on a blog a couple days ago in regards to Richard's origins. The blogger suggested that he might have been the First Mate on the Black Rock. However, I pointed out, the Black Rock was a British slave ship and Richard is not British. I doubt he would have been First Mate. So then I thought
perhaps he was one of the slaves?
And my suspicions were only pressed when Smokey/Locke said to Richard: "Hello Richard. It's nice to see you out of those chains."