The archdeaconry of Richmond was created around the year 1088, and was endowed by Thomas, Archbishop of York. It had the valuable impropriations of Easingwold, Bolton, Clapham, and Thornton Steward. It was the wealthiest and most extensive Archdeaconry in the Kingdom, and originally comprised the western parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire, as well as the greater portion of the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland. From 1127 onwards however, Henry I removed Allendale and Cumberland from the jurisdiction in order to form the See of Carlisle. By way of compensation for this loss, Archbishop Thurstan conferred upon the Archdeacon all the privileges and prerogatives of a bishop, with the exception that he could not ordain, consecrate, or confirm. The Archdeacon had his own Consistory court at Richmond, where wills were proved, licences and faculties granted, and all matters of ecclesiastical cognizance dealt with. He had also the sole supervision of the clergy within his jurisdiction, including institution to, and removal from, benefices.
In 1541, Henry VIII established the bishopric of Chester, and the Archdeacon of Richmond's pastoral and judicial powers were transferred to York. The office of Archdeacon of Richmond was technically incorporated into the new bishopric. However the changes affected by this action were slight, with the exception that its revenues underwent serious diminution, and its position was now that of a commissary, elected by the Bishop of Chester. The Archdeacon continued to enjoy the same authority, judicial and otherwise, which had been enjoyed by his predecessors.
In 1836, the jurisdiction was transferred to the newly formed See of Ripon. In January 1838, the consistory court of Richmond was abolished, along with all other peculiars. Upon the creation of the Diocese of Leeds on 20 April 2014, the archdeaconry received the territory of the Craven archdeaconry and was renamed Richmond and Craven; it now forms the Ripon episcopal area.