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 4 of 103)
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but there are many old documents on which it is spelled "Riddle" in the Scotch
and English houses ; and there have been, and are now, many small branches
in Scotland and England, claiming descent from the Ryedales, who spell their
own names "Riddle"; among them the "Riddles of Troughend," of which the
late Edward Riddle, Master of the Greenwich Naval School, was oue.

Many branches settled in the north of Ireland ; some from the Roxburgh fam-
ily, some from the Gleu-Riddell branch of the same tree; and others evidently
descended from the Riddells of Argyleshire, and many of them spell the name
Riddle, Riddel, Riddall, and Ruddell.

An early offshoot of the Norman Ridels settled in Germany; and their nu-
merous descendants, now scattered over the wide world, spell their names Ridel,
Riedel, Reidel, and Riedell.

One family in the Southern States are descended from emigrants from France,
and in the first generations spelt their names Riddelle. Many of the Scotch-
Irish families came to the United States, and a majority of them now spell
their names Riddle; some Riddile.

A family early settled in Kentucky spelled their surname Ruddle. And de-
scendants of one Virginian branch still spell the name Ruddell, nearly identical
with the Latin forms.

The early New Jersey families were Scottish, and uniformly used the orthog-
raphy Riddell for several generations. But their names on the Colonial records
are frequently spelt Riddle, a name now used by their descendants.

The surname Ridley, or de Ridleigh, like others in this book, has been under
much discussion, and authors of great antiquarian information disagree as to its
derivation. Some look to their ancient coat-of-arms as proof for their claims
that Ridleigh, as the name was spelt in early times, was derived from a place
in Cheshire owned by the ancestors of the family, where reeds grew. The shield
in a coat-of-arms is sometimes called a "field," and as this had an ox passing
through reeds in the arms of Ridleigh, it is said the original form was Reedfield,
"leigh " in the old language meaning a field or meadow. This would seem reason-
able enough if we could find the name spelled Reedfield, or Reedleigh, in any
old document. Does any such proof appear ? Another writer gives the same
derivation for the terminal part of the surname, but ascribes another meaning
to the prefix "Rid," which, being sometimes spelled "Red" in old English,
signifies to clear away or make clean; hence, combined with "leigh," would rep-
resent a clean field or cleared land. Nearly all writers have assigned a terri-
torial origin to the surname, but trace it to a source far removed from Ridley
Hall in Cheshire, England. In a biographical uotice of Bishop Nicholas Ridley,
in the Parker edition of his writings, it is stated, "the origin of the name Rid-
ley may be traced more satisfactorily than that of many others now equally
illustrious. It appears to have been Scottish, and originally Ridel or Ryedale,


of which Riddle is a corruption; and the Riddells of Glen-Riddell might have
traced their descent to a common stock with the Ridleys of Willimoteswick."
John Ridley, a brother-in-law of Bishop Ridley, was buried in the Haltwhistle
Church, Northumberland, England: and his name in the inscription on his
tomb is spelled "Redle" or •' Ridle," exactly the same as the name of one of
the Norman ancestors of the Riddells. as found in the Domesday Book. One
ancient author calls Ridley a "gentile name," and another, writing in 1049,
mentions Ridley among thirty-seven families of Northumberland "dating back to
the Conquest." I have not found any mention of the name dating prior to the
settlement of the Norman Ridels and de Ridales in England and Scotland, but
the appearance of the surname de Ridleigh or Ridley, in the north, is contem-
porary with that of Ridale on the border, across the Tyne. In ancient doc-
uments, now extant, in the College of Arms, London, and in the British Museum,
the surname is spelled Riddley and Ridlea.

The B idlers of England and America descended from a family in Gloucester-
shire, are an offshoot of the Ridleys of Willimoteswick, and assumed the same
arms and crest.

The Midlands and Bidlons are descended from an ancient Norman, Robert de
Rhuddlau, or de Ryddland, who settled in Wales, and was resilient at Rhudd-
lau Castle on the river Clwyd. in the County of Flint. (See "Rhuddlaus and
Ridlands," in this book.) The Ridlands descended from one Adam Ridland
from the Orkney Islands, were early settled in Shetland, and seem to have
spelt their surname uniformly.

Magnus Ridland, or Readlau, came from Shetland to New England in 1718,
and after changing his name from Ridland to Readlau and Redlan, uually
adopted the form Redlon, and continued it through life. His seveu sons spelt
their own names Redlon, and so did nearly all of the third generation, although
towu-clerks and Justices of the Peace frequently wrote their names Ridlou, Red-
lone, and Ridley. The Buxton branch and the Damariscotta branch of Maine,
have always retained their ancestors name of Redlon. The Hollis branch changed
to Ridlou first, but the families at Saco. and in other towns, soon adopted the
same form. Families in the west, originally from Maine, spell the surname
Ridlen, Ridlin, and Redley. Some of the fathers changed the spelling at the
request of an old Scotch school-master, under whose instruction they were
early placed.

The descendants of Matthias Redlon, who went to Kennebec County, from Saco,
Me., nearly all changed their names to Bidley, a very unwise action, that has
resulted in great confusion and embarrassment ever since. There were families
named Ridley, descended from the Cape Cod branch, early settled in eastern
Maine, and almost every one addressed the Redlous by that name; they became
weary of correcting the mistake, and supposing these Ridleys to be a branch
of the same family, adopted their name. Samuel Ridlon and his descendants of
Hollis, Me., however, and John his brother, who settled in Vermont, continued
to spell their surname Ridlon, while their brothers in the east changed to

It is a matter of surprise to many who are unacquainted with family history,
that any surname should be changed; but the causes are numerous and trace-
able. It is well known by all antiquarians, that in early times there was no
established rule for spelling in the Old World, and surnames are found in a
variety of forms on ancient documents and monumental inscriptions. Few sur-


names of families whose ancestors were early settled in New England, are now
spelled as they were when introduced into the colonies ; and if such families
could trace their names to an early period in English history, they would
undoubtedly find that their ancestors were known by names quite unlike those
borne by the early American generations. In the "old English" all surnames
now spelt with the letter i were originally written with a y, as in Chamberlayne
and Rydleigh or Rydley.

In the early New England Colonies representatives of several nationalities,
English, Scotch, Irish. French, and Scandinavians, were constantly associated,
and each, having a pronunciation peculiar to himself, found it necessary to
accommodate his language to the understanding of others ; in consequence of
this modification, constantly carried on, names of men and things in a short
time were pronounced quite diflereutly from what they were originally written.
As the early settlers had few advantages for acquiring even a primary education,
and but few occasions to write their names, justices, clerks, and clergy, who
used the pen, wrote surnames as they heard them spoken, following each pro-
nunciation in their spelling as closely as they could. The rising generations,
who had a better education, by consulting the records of towns and churches,
learned to spell their names as they found those of their ancestors written, and
in a few years families were known by surnames very dissimilar to those borne
by their progenitors.

With all the mutations through which the surnames used by the various
branches of our clan have passed, it is interesting to observe that a marked
resemblance has been preserved in the orthography and the significance of them
all. The original form seems to have been derived from a dale or dell where
rye was cultivated, and properly written would be Ryedale or Ryedell. Dale
and dell are synouamous names, as —

"In (tefey and dells concealed from mortal siyln."

The change from Ryedale and Riddell to Riddle, — as the name is always pro-
nounced by Scotchmen, — has not caused a loss of the full meaning of the original,
as a riddle was an instrument by which rye and other grains were winnowed
and cleansed ; and the change to Ridler and Riddler, makes that form denote one
who winnows grain with a riddle or seive. The old English word Bed or Bid,
signifies to cleanse or drive out, as, "I will rid my fields of evil beasts."
The ancient word, leigh and ley, represented a field or meadow, a low piece
of ground, and counected with rid would, in its proper spelling, be Cleared
field or Cleanland. If the surname Ridleigh or Ridley was derived from this
source, the meaning resembles that of the original Norman name of Ryedale.
But if what has been called reeds in the ancient arms of the Ridleys of Willi-
moteswick, should prove to he rye instead, — which seems quite probable, — then
the full name Ridleigh would be Ryefield or Ryeland, which is the exact equiv-
alent of Ryedale or Ryedell. The same is true of the surname Ridland, as now
used by the branch of the family in Sandsting, Shetland Isles. The territorial
or local and agricultural significance of the surname has never been lost by the
many changes in spelling during thirty generations of the family.

In one ancient coat-of-arms borne by a branch of the Ryedale family from
Normandy, there was a plough, and some heralds represent the ox in the ancient
arms of Ridley, as drawing a plough through reeds in a field; this fact
strengthens the claim to relationship between the two families.



I give below a catalogue comprising the forms of spelling found in books and
records, —sixty in all.


Radi.^ .


Read land.















Rtddli \.






Rid la.


RlDLE \.






Rll>u:\ .






ROD] I I'. I!






Rl I'M. I..



Names distinguishing one individual from another have been in use from the
earliest ages of human society. Among the Jews, the name given to a child
originated in some circumstauce of birth, or was an expression of religious
sentiment. Old Testament names are almost all original, given in the first in-
stance to the person bearing them.

The Greeks bore only one name, given the tenth day after birth, which was
the right of the father to choose and alter if he pleased. The early Greek
names are expressive of some quality held in great estimation, as valor, skill,
wisdom, or gracefulness. (Callimachus, excellent fighter; Pherecrates, strength
bringer; Sophron, wise; Melauthus, black flower).

The Romans at a very early period bore two names, and subsequently every
Roman citizen had three. The names Caius, Marcus, Cneius, like our Christian
uames, were personal to the individual. These names were given to Roman
children at the attainment of puberty in early times, and afterwards on the
uinth day after birth. The Roman uames were originally less dignified than
the Greeks; some were derived from ordinary employments, as Porcius (swine-
herd), Cicero (vetch grower); some from personal peculiarities, as Crassus (fat),
Naso (long-nosed), and a few from numerals, Sextus, Septimus.

Celtic and Teutonic names, lik'> the Jewish and Greek, were originally very
significant, and to check their exuberance the people contented themselves by
passing them down from father to son. Many names in Europe, in consequence
of the changed speech of the people, belong to an obsolete tongue, and their
signification has become unintelligible. Some were derived from God, as Gott-
fried, Godfrey, Godwin; some from inferior gods, as Anselm, Oscar, Esmond;
others from elves or genii, as Alfred, Alboin, Elfric (Elf king). Bertha is the
name of a favorite female goddess and source of light; the same name com-
pounded is Albrecht, Bertram. Many names indicating personal prowess, wis-
dom, and nobility of birth, belong to the following class : Hildebrand (war
brand), Konrad (bold in counsel), Hlodwig (glorious warrior), now called
Clovis, and the original of Ludwig and Louis. The wolf, bear, eagle, boar,
and lion entered into the composition of the names of men, as Adolf (noble
wolf), Arnold (valiant eagle), Osborn (God bear).


The Puritans, acting under strong religious interests would admit of but two
classes of names for their children, — those expressive of religious sentiment,
such as Praise-God, Live-well, Wait-still, and names which occur in Scripture;
hence in the early generations of the New England families the Christian names,
Patience, Charity, Mercy, Hope, Grace, and Lovie are of frequent occurrence.
The use of two or more Christian names is a comparatively modern practice,
as also the use of surnames in place of Christian names

There are a few Christian names in this book worthy of notice in this article.
In the Norman house of Ryedale, or Ridel, Walgrinus stands at the head of the
pedigree, and does not occur again in any branch of the clan. Galfridus, Gau-
fridus, and Gaufrid (different forms of the same name) are transmitted from
father to son, and from successor to successor, until borne by thirteen or more
members of the family.

Geoffrey and Geofery are names used during the early generations of the Nor-
man Ridels. Gervase, or Gervasius, was one of the first of the Anglo-Norman
representatives of the race who settled in Scotland, and it is a little singular
that this ancestral name was not continued in that branch of the Riddell family ;
of late, however, after being laid away more than seven hundred years, it has
been resuscitated by a descendant of the original Gervasius, and is now used
both in Scottish and American branches of the family. The female Christian
names, Geva and Grizel, early introduced into the Ryedale family, have also been
revived and bestowed upon children of the Riddell and Ridlon name in Scotland
aud the United States. Amongst the singular names found in the Scottish house
of Ridale, are Auskittel and Quintin. The former was derived from the family
of Aukittell, or Anskitell, now of "Mount Aukitell," and " Aukitill Grove,"
County Monaghan, Ireland, connected with the "Riddells of Glasslough." by
marriage in 1768 ; the name Quintin appears but once in the Riddell family, and
whence derived is not known, but is the name of a saint in the Roman Calendar,
and of a distinguished painter, born at Antwerp in 1460.

The name Hans in a branch of the family of Roxburghshire, Scotland, early
settled in Ireland, as well as the name Gavin or Gaioin, peculiar to a Scotch-
Irish branch of the Riddell family, early settled in New Hampshire, were derived
from the Hamilton and Douglas families, in which the latter is found as far
back as 1520.

The Ridleys of Willimoteswick have perpetuated several ancient Christian
names peculiar to the early generations, such as Nicholas, Christopher, Cuthbert,
Launcelot, and Mark. Nicholas Ridley, the Martyr Bishop, was probably named
for his uncle, or Sir Nicholas Ridley the "Broad Knight," and having cast a
halo over the family name by his religious zeal and great learning, every gen-
eration since has had one or more representatives named Nicholas. The father
of the Martyr was Christopher Ridley of Unthank, and many have since borne
his Christian name, especially descendants from the "Ridleys of Battersea."

Cuthbert Ridley was sometime (say 1625) rector of Simonburn Church, in
Northumberland, England; his Christian name has been kept in the Ridley
family of Mickley, from father to son for six successive generations, and is now
used by descendants in New York.

Mark, as a Ridley name, goes back to 1623, when Dr. Mark Ridley was a sur-
geon in London. Since that date the name has occurred in the English and
American families, and is still used by the descendants of Mark Ridley, who
settled in Barnstable County, Mass., as early as 1660.

The Ridley family, now so numerous in the Southern States, have continued


the use of the Christian name. Boh rt. borne by their common ancestor, who
came from England in 1635. Bromfield, a surname used as a Christian name in
this family, is still handed down by members in the legal profession.

The name Magnus is peculiar to the Redlon and Ridlon families in New Eng-
land, descended from Magnus Beadlan, or Ridland. who came from the Shetland
Islands in 1718. The name signifies strength, or attraction, ami i- from the same
root as the ancient names .Magi and Magician, applied to those who were sup-
posed to possess some remarkable and mysterious power. From the same
Latin root we have magnes, magnet, and magnate. The loadstone, having a
hiilden power of attraction, has been called in literature, "The mighty mag-
nes stone." Magnus was assumed by many of the ancients as a surname,
amouir them by Pompey, from the greatness of his exploits. The name
is common in Norway and Shetland, being directly derived from the kings of
the former country and Sweden, of which there were six who bore that name.
Kinir Magnus II reigned twenty-eight years previous to 1070 A. D., and his son
and successor, Magnus III, fifty-two years, to L180. In Kirkwall, the principal
town of the Orkney Islands, is St. Magnus' Cathedral, founded in 1136 A. D.
St. Magnus' Bay, on the west coast of the mainland of Shetland, affords an ex-
cellent anchorage for large vessels. Magnus was also the name of a king of the
Isle of Man, 1204 A. D.

The name has been handed down from generation to generation, in the Red-
lon and Ridlon families, but when the author commenced this book, there were
but two persons in the connection bearing it, and one of them only as a middle
name. Siuce this family history was undertaken, the author has had the honor
of bestowing this grand old kingly and aucestral family name upon several little
fellows who bear the Ridlon surname, and it is hoped the Christian name Magnus
will never be allowed to drop out of the old sept.

Matthias is a name much used in the early generations of the Redlon and Rid-
lon family, and came from the family of Young, in Kittery, Me., of whom the
first wife of Magnus Redlon, our common progenitor, was a member. This old
scriptural name represents our ancestors on the maternal side, and should be per-
petuated by the Ridlons as long as there is one of the name.

The name Abraham, in the Ridlon family, was derived from the Townseuds,
of Saco. Massie. daughter of Abraham Townsend, sometime of Lynn. Ma - .,
was the second wife of Magnus Redlon, and named her eldest son for her
father: that son died unmarried, and although the name has been perpetuated
in other branches of the Ridlon family, there are now no male descendants of
Massie Townsend who bear our surname.

Robert is a name introduced into the Redlon family by the marriage of John
Redlon, of Buxton, Me., with a daughter of Robert Brooks. The eldest son
was named Robert for his maternal grandfather, and became the head of the
Damariscotta Bedlons. Another daughter of Robert Brooks was the wife of
David Martin, and named a son Robert for her father, from whom by inter-
marriage subsequently, between the Ridlons and Martins, the name Robert came
into the family again, but from the same original source. I incline to the belief
that Robert Ridlon, of Hollis, Me. (deceased), was named for a Robert Cousens
of his mother's family.

The name Ebenezer, of the Buxton family of Ridlons. came from the Youngs
of Kittery, by the marriage of Magnus Redlon with Susanna, daughter of Matthew
Young, a Scotchman.

Nathaniel came to the Ridlons from the Townsend family; Thomas, from the


Ali- the ancient nations mentioned in history, wore some kind of defensive
armor when in battle; sometimes of leather, of brass, of iron, and of steel.
Some of the more luxurious had their coats of mail and helmets richly orna-
mented with gold and silver. In Bible times the sacred writers were acquainted
with shields, breastplates, and helmets. When coats of armor were of thick
leather, they were padded with some elastic material that would deaden a blow
of sword or spear. Scale armor was composed of plates of brass, iron, or steel,
so formed and joined together, as to adapt itself to the necessary movements of
the wearer's body. Armor originally only covered the head and the shoulders,
but in the days of William the Conqueror, men of war were clothed from crown
to toe in armor made of plate, or steel rings. In process of time the old
knights and chiefs had devices on their shields which represented their prowess
and were sometimes significant of their family name or place of residence ; then
a crest was worn on the helmet, well known to the followers of the chief, that
could be seen in battle, and served as an ensign. These symbols and devices
painted on the shields were of endless variety, " from the highest things celes-
tial, to the lowest things terrestrial." Sometimes surcoats made of leather were
worn over the armor of polished brass or steel, to protect the wearer from the
heat of the sun, and the devices that had been painted on the shield, were also
embroidered ou these overgarments ; thus the arms became visible to every
beholder in battle, without the aid of a standard ; from this method of display-
ing emblems and armorial bearings, arose the term, cote armure, or coat-of-arms.
Many of the ancient monumental effigies in England, represent men dressed in
armor, covered with a sui'coat on which are their armorial bearings, exactly cor-
responding with those on their battle shields. In the middle ages, armorial
devices had become so systematized that they formed a language which the
most iguoraut could understand. The learned and the unlearned could read the
symbolic picture, which was presented to the eye in a thousand ways, till the
system was interwoven with the character and teaching of the people. Nearly
every mansion was decorated with armorial insignia ; the ancestry of a family
was known by the shields in the upper parts of the windows.

The church favored armorial bearings. Knights took their banners to be
blessed by the priests before going to engage in the Crusade wars, and on
their return, these trophies, covered with honorable decorative charges, were sus-
pended in the churches, and being of a perishable nature, the distinctions were
in time permanently displayed in the glass of the windows, the frescoes of the
walls, or carved in stone in the building itself.


In the infaucy of heraldry, every knight assumed what armorial distinctions
he pleased, without consulting his sovereign. Animals, plants, imaginary mon-
sters, things artificial, and objects familiar to pilgrims were adopted; and when-
ever possible, the object chosen was one the name of which bore some resem-
blance in sound to suggest the name of the bearer. The Appletons have three
apples in their shield; the Bells, three bells; the Masons, three trowels; the
Swans, three birds of that name; and the Ryedales, three ears of rye. As coats-
of-arms became more numerous, confusion ofteu arose from the use. by different
knights, of the same symbols ; and this confusion was augmented by the prac-
tice of feudal chiefs in allowing their followers to bear their arms in battle as
a mark of honor. In this way difl'ereut coats-of-arms so closely resembled each
other, that it was imperative, for distinction's sake, that some restrictions and
ivmilatious should be laid down respecting the character, number, and position

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 4 of 103)