G. T. (Gideon Tibbetts) Ridlon.

History of the ancient Ryedales, and their descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, from 860 to 1884 online

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Online LibraryG. T. (Gideon Tibbetts) RidlonHistory of the ancient Ryedales, and their descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, from 860 to 1884 → online text (page 2 of 103)
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enduring form. Such monuments' have a beneficial influence on the living, and
are protected by the most stringent laws ; but a comprehensive family history
is a monument more enduring than the sculptured marble, which is worn away
by the "tooth of time"; a monument of little cost, upon which may be
inscribed the names, ages, marriages, and deaths of our entire family connec-
tion. Another valuable feature of such a work is the collection of portraits
embraced within its pages, and hauded down to gratify the desire of the rising
generation to mark the resemblance between the several branches of our tribe.
In consequence of removals from State to State, local monuments erected by
loving hands, are often far away from the friends who would gladly visit them
to read again the epitaphs recorded there ; but a family memorial in book form
may be carried with us and kept always ready for reference; this may be
entailed in our families from generation to generation, until so long as there
remains one to bear our name they may possess an authentic and chronologi-
cal history, from the most remote period to the present time.

A book of this character has value, thirdly, because it serves as a medium to
satisfy the natural desire to be remembered when our work of life is finished.
Few persons whose lives have been useful in this world are willing to be for-
gotten ; and yet those in the more humble and obscure walks of life must resign
themselves to the probability that in a few years at most, unless their names
are recorded on the page of history, they will be lost to memory. There exists
in every heart a fond desire to be remembered by kindred and friends, and when
separated from them for a short time there is great pleasure experienced in
hearing from them by letters, and in knowing —

" They look for us their homes to share,
And joyful greetings " wait us there."

A good family memorial has value, fourthly, from its relation to local and gen-
eral history, for which it preserves many valuable data of a character that would
otherwise be irrecoverably lost. A work of this class contains descriptions of
the lands and homes where our forefathers once lived, and toiled, and died; ex-
tracts of wills, deeds, inventories, and journals are here preserved, thus handing
forward to other generations a knowledge of original owners of lands, the


comparative value of real estate from time to time since the settlement of
our country, the means used to procure a subsistence, the growth of the popu-
lar institutions, and the advance of civilization. Such a history enables us to
know of the difficulties encountered and the struggles passed through by the
pioneers in securing permanent settlements and titles to their lands, since made
productive, beautiful, and valuable by their persevering toils, and thus fostering
a love for the unimpaired preservation and possession of the homesteads of our
departed sires, as a patrimony worthy of our attachment and respect.

In recording the history and genealogy of our own Immediate families, we
necessarily incorporate into the fabric, in marriage records, names from other
families, thus conserving the links belonging to other numerous genealogical
chains, which would have been lost in the visionary traditions of fleeting gener-
ations; by such means we form a repository to be consulted by antiquaries and
historians who may follow us. We also preserve the original spelling of names
of places and individuals, giving their derivation and marking the mutations that
have occurred from generation to generation. Facsimiles of autographs en-
graved for such a book show the comparative improvement in chirography ; dates
of removals indicate the westward movement of the tide of civilization; bio-
graphical notices illustrate the advancement in science and art, improvement in
business facilities and educational advantages ; and the whole work embodies
almost every element of history from a very remote date to the present, — val-
uable for preservation and interesting to the general reader.

Having given my reasons for undertaking the compilation of this work, the
circumstances that served to enlarge its scope, and explained its value, I shall
now comprehensively describe some of the means employed for gaining infor-
mation and collecting the data now embodied in it; but in doing this, for want
of space, I must pass unmentioned hundreds of measures, — legitimate enough,
but original with me. — resorted to by me during my investigations.

To many of my correspondents it will be unnecessary to say that I have
been a very inquisitive man, — indeed every successful antiquary must possess
this faculty of asking questions, which is acquired by great application and
experience in historical research. One must not only be able to ask for
what he wants in a concise way. but he must present his interrogations in a
form that causes the one questioned to feel under an obligation to respond. To
awaken an interest in my undertaking with those who were at first indifferent,
and to stimulate them to action in the premises, has demanded tact and inge-
nuity, and there are many so obstinate, and some so extremely discreet, that all
the skill of correspondence has failed to draw them out. Experience soon
taught me that I must not ask too much in my first communication ; a long
list of questions, involving genealogical data relating to several generations,
seemed too much to be undertaken, and the letter would be put aside; then
the success of the effort to procure the records would depend upon the way in
which the second letter of request was composed. In my initiatory inquiry I
would usually state, — truthfully, of course, — that I had in my possession an
account of some branches of this family, and that I could not properly arrange
the records for composition without a statement respecting other families; then
I would ask for the names of grandparents, parents, uncles, or as the case
might be. Supposing this was all I wanted, my requests were, in most in-
stances, granted. To save expense, — believing that every family ought to help
bear the burden of my undertaking, — I did not enclose return postage in my
first communication; bat, if I did not receive an immediate reply, I reminded
the person previously addressed, of my wishes, enclosing a stamp, which almost


always brought to me the desired information. In case my first two letters
were laid aside without reply, I have written my third with a tone of dis-
appointment, expressed in language a little pointed. I would state that other
families had rendered assistance most cheerfully and promptly, that nearly every
one felt a deep interest in my work, and would sometimes close by saying "if
these questions are not attended to for want of references I can furnish them
at any moment." This succeeded, with few exceptions, and letters from those
solicited were usually prefaced with an apology for not attending to my wishes
sooner, followed by the statement of their willingness to do all in their power to
aid me in my researches. Having opened the way, I must then press my claims ;
after waiting a few days another communication would be forwarded, in which at-
tention was called to some omission in my first, and after thanking my " valuable
correspondent" for the interesting information contained in his letter, I would
express the hope that the wanting records would be furnished without delay;
this was, with few exceptions, successful. Being now possessed of the material
relating to the early generations of this family, I would write out my caption
and commence the composition and classification of the matter; meanwhile, those
families with whom I had corresponded, having acquired new facts concerning
their ancestry, which inspired a growing interest in my work, in spite of their
first indifference, their family pride would cause them to discuss the tradi-
tions handed down to them, which excited their curiosity to know how the
family history was progressing. Taking advantage of their interest I was
careful to mention incidentally, in my subsequent letter, some historical fact
that was new to them, which always served to rekindle their interest and
sharpen their desire for a more complete knowledge of their ancestral history.
I would now write that I had commenced the composition of their department of
my book, and had found that I could proceed no further without certain records
of births, marriages, and deaths of the younger generation, — perhaps I omitted
the maiden names of wives, — and would suggest that they could never feel
any satisfaction in the history of that branch of the family if it appeared in
a "disconnected and fragmentary condition," when other sections of my book
would be so complete and interesting; that, as there were now so few de-
ficiencies to be filled, I hoped they would do me the favor to provide the
names and dates "by return mail."

During the many years employed on my work, I have learned the expediency
of adapting my style of correspondence to the characters and circumstances of
those families from whom I desired assistance; indeed, it would have been ab-
solutely impossible for me to bring together from thousands of individuals the
large collection of records and historical materials found in this book without
playing somewhat upon family pride and ambition ; by these means the otherwise
inaccessible have freely imparted from their stores of genealogical information
valuable contributions to my work. Begging pardon for auy seeming dis-
courtesy in my methods of investigation, I will state that to me, in my enthu-
siasm, the end justified the means, and the results now given to the families
who have endured my importunity, are of such a valuable character as to mod-
ify their impatience and cause them to regard the author's work with feelings
of appreciation.

If I was aware that families from whom I wished to obtain information were
in affluent circumstances, — if they were pressed with business cares and the
entertainment of friends, — I have called their attention to my undertaking in
a circuitous way, never failing to mention the many very respectable families
of our name in Great Britain. I have shown that representatives of the family


had been magnates in every generation ; that their original coat-of-arms was
granted them for their distinguished prowess and achievements in battle among
the Normans; that the "three piles in point" in their escutcheon represent the
three nails of our Saviour's cross, and proved in the language of heraldry that
early cadets of the family from Normandy had been engaged in the Crusade
wars in the Holy Land.

In my communications to individuals supposed to be possessed of something
like political aspiration, I have called their attention to the fact that many mem-
bers of our clan had won distinction in the halls of the English parliament and
of the American congress; also, that by two or more alliances with the royal
family of England, the blood of our ancestors was fused with that of every mon-
arch that had sat upon the throne since King John. This intelligence was enough
to start the "blue blood" in almost any man's veins, and has opened the way
for my success in correspondence when, with some families, everything else
would have been unavailing.

Families known to be of religious tendencies and identified with church-work,
have been advised of the fact that for eminence in piety the ancestors of our
tribe were well known ; that in their loyalty to the cause of their Lord they had
endured every indignity, even to banishment, imprisonment, and martyrdom; and
that besides three bishops in the family, there have been about one hundred
ministers who bore our surname.

AVhen the person addressed had seen service in the army, and was possessed
of a military and chivalrous spirit, I have informed him of the valor of our
ancestors, — who had received the honor of knighthood at the hands of their
sovereigns, and were made the recipients of many medals for services performed
upon the field of battle ; how, from the earliest history of our family, it had beeu
represented by its members in every war in which their countrymen had been
engaged, and in every case had won distinction and the commendations of their

If the methods of procedure mentioned in the foregoing pages have failed to
awaken sufficient interest in those to whom I applied for data to enlist their at-
tention, I have forwarded advance-sheets, copies of portraits, views of ancient
family residences, and photographs. The possession of such mementoes has
usually caused those to whom the3 r were presented to feel under some obligation,
and many have afterwards proved my most valuable helpers. But the mediums
employed which I have already uoticed do not involve all the embarrassments
with which this work has been attended ; indeed, I have considered it good for-
tune when these simple expedients have been successful. In many instances I
have encountered such indifference and stolidity that for a time I was disheart-
ened, and waited for victory in other directions to rekindle my hope. Some
have absolutely refused to render aid, and would not allow the records of their
families to be published in this book, and this statement must be my only apol-
ogy for the disconnected appearance of many pedigrees, and the meagre accounts
of some branches of the family as found in this genealogy.

In many instances 1 have employed clergymen, postmasters, town-clerks, and
lawyers to copy tombstones, family records, church registers, town books, pro-
bate records, etc., and in a few cases these gentlemen have interviewed the
families in person, to elicit facts respecting their history. These services have
frequently proved expensive, and have only been called into requisition when all
other means have failed.

I have depended largely upon church and town records for the births, mar-
riages, and deaths of the early generations, especially in tracing the American


branches of the family. For names and places of residence I have consulted
the probate records and registers of deeds found in our county houses. Such
records have been examined by me personally in several States, and the expense
of traveling, to say nothing of my time, has been considerable, having made
two tours through the middle, western, and southern States, besides canvassing
New England very carefully. I have spent days upon my knees, in the heat of
summer and cold of winter, cutting away the moss from old tombstones, that I
might copy the inscriptions which had become nearly obliterated by the wear of
time. Months have been spent in the dusky archives of our public libraries in
many New England cities, and I have caused to be examined the records at
Washington covering the whole period of American history. Nearly every county
in the southern States has been canvassed by letters and printed circulars.

Another prolific medium through which much information has reached me,
was advertising in local newspapers and historical magazines, both in this
country and Europe. Some of these "queries" have been duplicated through
the papers in several counties, and have, in many instances, brought me into
communication with valuable correspondents and sources of historical data,
that otherwise could not have been reached by me; indeed, by this means
many branch families have been found, and ancient portraits, views of resi-
dences, and coats-of-arms brought to light and placed in my bands. In
many papers and magazines, I have published articles of considerable length
on our family history, which have reached distant kinspeople, awakening in
their minds sufficient interest to prompt them to assist me in my investiga-
tions. In addition to these printed communications, I have circulated among
the members of the family about three thousand blanks with printed headings,
thcee thousand descriptive circulars, and two thousand copies of a prospectus
issued in 1876. Many of these were filled out with records and returned to me,
but several hundred were never heard from. Besides the expense of printing,
advertising, and postage, considerable money has been expended for copies of
engraved portraits, and views of foreign family seats, which have been forwarded
to inspire an interest where all other expedients have proved a failure.

To acquaint myself with the customs of those nations among whom our
families have figured during the centuries of their existence, it has been neces-
sary for me to read extensively. An American author writes at great disad-
vantage in consequence of his being so far removed from sources of information
that are in other countries, and in being unfamiliar with the systems of gov-
ernment, habits of the people, and the terms used in their literature, especially
when his work reaches back to so remote a date as does this book. Having
commenced with the best histories of the Scandinavian races, I traced the
customs and character of those people downward through their migrations,
conquests, settlements in other European countries, and establishment in Nor-
mandy in France, where we find the first mention of our family under a dis-
tinctive surname. Thence my reading traced them through their wanderings
into Germany, Italy, Russia, Iceland, Scotland, England, and the islands of
the seas. It was necessary to learn of the arts of war employed in mediaeval
and feudal times, to acquaint myself with the ancient system of heraldry,
names and grades of rank in civil and military official stations, the holding
and entail of landed estates, and to acquire a correct knowledge of the tech-
nical language used in the literature contemporary with those generations
whose history I wished to record. Having been so long resident in Scotland,
multiplying and forming distinct branches, settled in widely separated localities,
always advancing with the enlightenment and progress of the nation, changing


with the changes in government, education, and modes of living, acquiring ex-
tensive landed possessions, making improvements in agriculture with the
increased facilities introduced, modernizing their family residences to keep pace
with the beauties of architecture of every decade, these many generations have
figured more or less in the history of the country, from the time when they
first sat down there till the present. Hence, the American author who would
make any claim to accuracy in statement, is compelled to wade through hun-
dreds of volumes of ancient and modern local history, in order to qualify
himself for his work. These books are rare in this country, and as many of
them cannot be found in our public libraries, I have found it necessary to pur-
chase expensive genealogical and historical volumes in Europe; others that
were out of print have been consulted, and extracts relating to our family
copied for my use. To be correct in my descriptions of places where the
family have been seated in Scotland and England, I have consulted gazetteers
and descriptive maps, many of which have been forwarded to me by friends in
those countries. My acknowledgments are due to many of my correspondents
in Great Britain for the disinterestedness manifested by them in their re-
searches in my behalf, being in no way connected with the family. These have
seen my notices and queries in the papers and magazines, and being near the
sources of information, they have kindly examined many ancient books, records,
and other documents, from which some have forwarded copious notes appro-
priate for this book. Gentlemen in official positions which impose many press-
ing duties, have found the time to render assistanee that could not have been
available otherwise. The laws of England and Scotland were early applied to
the preservation of the records of the old families, and hence the sources
there are much more prolific than in this country. Records have been well
kept in parishes, and where now extant are almost always within the reach
of searchers. Those great repositories of antiquated documents and records
of families, the College of Arms and the British Museum in London, and the
Register Office and Lyon Office in Edinburgh, have been thoroughly searched
for me, and every item coming within the scope of my book culled out and-
copied. But when the services of solicitors and officials are called into re-
quisition, the expense attending the work of examination and writing of ex-
tracts is too heavy for a poor man.

My correspondence has extended to many gentlemen of high rank, members
of parliament, ministers in foreign ports, congressmen, eminent judges, authors,
bishops, clergymen, presidents of colleges, earls, lords, barons, mayors of
cities, governors, State secretaries; indeed all classes, from the peasant in pov-
erty to the millionaire, have been identified with this book by furnishing me
such materials as were accessible to them. The record offices and historical
libraries have been examined in London, Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester, and
Newcastle, in England; Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Galashiels, Hawick,
Kelso, Selkirk, and Paisley, in Scotland; Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Belfast, Cole-
raine, Londonderry, and many small towns, in Ireland. I have also caused the
records in Australia, St. Christopher, Barbadoes, Bermuda, Cuba, Isle of Wight.
Shetland, Orkney, and Man, to be searched for my work. A correspondence
was also carried on for some time with gentlemen in various provinces in
France and Germany, but the labor of translating was so great it was discon-
tinued. Parish registers by the hundred have been consulted in Great Britain,
and some of them covering a period of more than three hundred years, being
without an index and written on vellum, were carefully turned leaf by leaf
for me. Scores of ancient church-yards in EDgland and Scotland have been


visited in my behalf, and many very interesting epitaphs copied. This class of
work was usually undertaken for me by rectors of the churches or the parish
clerks. To some I have paid a stipulated fee; others have kindly forwarded
the results of their search gratuitously. In several instances, church histo-
rians, being acquainted with the records, have drawn elaborate tabular pedi-
grees in " broadside " for me, filling in names and dates, with chronological

From members of the English and Scottish branches of the family I learned
that many of their kindred had settled in the British American Provinces, and I
pushed my inquiries into every considerable city and town in those dominions,
but for some reason unknown, some Canadian families have not responded to
my wishes, and consequently the genealogy of those branches will be found
very incomplete.

As the records of different families were received, the envelopes containing
them were all numbered, and an epitome of their contents written on the out-
side ; then these were all classified, tied in bundles, and packed away. In 1873,
the work of composition was commenced, and for sixty days, duriug which
I attended to all my professional duties (being a settled pastor), I employed
all my spare time in writing, frequently at my work till past midnight, and
perhaps the most discouraging feature of that task was the fact that more
than one-half of the manuscripts was re-written, in consequence of my dis-
satisfaction with the arrangement of names and the classification ; this change
necessitated the loss of more than one thousand pages of carefully written
foolscap copy, besides hundreds of pages that have since been cut out to make
room for addenda, and re-composed. No more confusing piece of classification
and composition was ever undertaken than that of compiling from thousands
of letters, copies of wills, deeds, commissions, account-books, ancient Latin
inscriptions, copies of grave-stones, family Bibles, old framed tablets, marriage
and baptism certificates, petitions, busiuess charters, bills of sale, notes,
receipts, memorandums, diaries, muster rolls, subscription papers, and other
papers too numerous to mention here. This will be better appreciated when it
is known that the matter comprising some pages in this book has been taken
from twenty different sources. These circumstances expose a work of this
class to many liabilities to errors in dates and the spelling of proper names;

Online LibraryG. T. (Gideon Tibbetts) RidlonHistory of the ancient Ryedales, and their descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, from 860 to 1884 → online text (page 2 of 103)