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

. (page 53 of 103)
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 53 of 103)
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dren, of whom hereafter. He was a farmer ; emigrated to New Brunswick,
British North America, in 1848, and works in the coal mines.

Hugh Riddle 3 (2), a son of Robert 2 (1), was born in the County of
Durham, Eng. ; married Jane Aver, and had issue ; farmer.

Franklin Riddle 3 (1), a son of Robert 2 (1), was born in the County
of Durham, Eng., and married Elizabeth Reed ; farmer.

Margaret Riddle 3 (1), a daughter of Robert 2 (1), was born in the
County of Durham, Eng.

Jane Riddle 3 (1), a daughter of Robert 2 (1), was born in the County
of Durham, Eng.


Esther Riddle 4 (1), eldest daughter of Robert 3 (2), was born in Eng-
land in 1838.

George Riddle 4 (1), eldest son of Robert 3 (2), was born in England
in 1842.

Hugh Riddle 4 (3), second son of Robert 3 (2), was born in England
in 1846.

Susan Riddle 4 (2), second daughter of Robert 3 (2), was born in New
Brunswick in 1849.

Mary Riddle 4 (1), third daughter of Robert 3 (2), was born in Nova
Scotia in 1854.

Isabella Riddle 4 (1), fourth daughter of Robert 3 (2), was born in
Nova Scotia in 1858.

Sarah Riddle 4 (1), fifth daughter of Robert 3 (2), was born in Nova
Scotia in 1860.




This family pedigree reaches back to the time of William the Conqueror.
Ridley Hall, the earliest known residence of the family, was in Cheshire,
a place previously owned by the Knight Hospitallers. It is pleasantly
situated in a beautiful, sequestered valley, under the shadow of the Peck-
ferton Hills. The old hall was evidently unimposing and dilapidated at
the time of the first possession of the Ridley family; but, as will appear
hereafter, it was rebuilt, and became one of the most stately and elegant
houses in the County. The ancient property continued in the main line
of the Ridley family till it ended in an heir female, who became the wife
of Robert Danyel ; then the estate passed to the son and heir, Sir Robert
Danyel, who quartered his arms with those of Ridley. This Sir Robert
Danyel was an assistant of Sir William Standley, who became the hero of
the battle at Bosworth Field, in Scotland, — probably his Esquire, or one
of his body-guard, — and a veil of mystery enshrouds his history. Le-
land, the antiquary, in his Itinerary, says, "Ridley 'longed [belonged] to
Danyel that was servant to Sir W. Standlie, and few men know what be-
came of this Danyel." The most probable explanation is, that the owner
of Ridley Hall and estate was either killed at the battle of Bosworth
Field, or was put out of the way by William Standley in order to gain
possession of his property. Standley went into the battle with three
thousand "tall men," and turned the tide in favor of King Henry; and
when King Richard died fighting, covered with wounds, Standley found
his crown trampled in the mire, and placed it upon the head of King
Henry. After this battle we find Sir William Standley rewarded with a
great property, including Ridley Hall and Manor; this was in the year
1494. There was an abstract of a fine on the manor of Ridley in the
thirty-second year of the reign of Henry VI, which intervenes between
the possession of Sir Robert Danyel and that of Sir William Standley, but
the parties named were probably only nominal possessors, and there is ob-
scurity about the transfer. At any rate, Standley did not live long to enjoy
his new acquisitions, for after " making it one of the fairest gentleman's
houses in all Chestershire," he was, in 1494, committed to prison, and in
1495 lost his head on Tower Hill.* We find no more mention of Ridley

♦London Tower was built by Guudiilph, Bishop of Rochester, in 1078. It ad-
joins the River Thames at the east end of the city. The walls, sixteen feet thick,
are of solid masonry. Gloomy memories associate with this ancient stronghold, in
consequence of the many hapless prisoners who have beeu executed there, and their
names on their dungeon-walls may still be seen, where they cut them centuries ago.



Hall after the death of Standley, till the year 1509, when, at the acces n
of Henry VIII, he presented Ralph Egerton, who was then gentle n
usher of the king's chamber, with all the former possessions of Sir 1-

liam Standley in Cheshire and Flint, which included the manor of Ri y,
a mill and certain lands in Farad on, and the Lordship of Tattanhall; id
on the 11th of February, 1514, the manor of Ridley was entailed by pa nt
to the heirs male of Ralph Egerton by the same king. This represe ta-
tive of the Egerton family had been created a knight by King Ht iry
VIII, for services in the army in France in 1513, and was made standa "d-
bearer for life, with a salary of one hundred pounds a year, after the I at-
tle of Flodden Field. He was afterwards made Marshal of Chestershi re,
thus having jurisdiction in office commensurate with his predecessor at
Ridley, Sir William Standley, who had also been Marshal of the Count oy.
Egerton died in 1527, and was buried at Ridley. How came the family of
Egerton to have possession of the manor of Ridley? In the absence of sp e-
cific documentary evidence, I conjecture the connections to be as follow s:
As the main line of the family of Ridley had ended in Alice, the wife of
Robert Dauyel, and the representation consequently devolved upon the sir
son and heir, who became the knight-follower of William Standley, wh< m
this son was put out of sight in some mysterious way, his County Mar-
shal got possession of his property, being then in great favor with tl'ie
kin£. Meanwhile a junior branch of the Ridlev family of Chestershir e,
undoubtedly the legal claimants at the death of Sir Robert Dauyel, being
nearest of kin, had ended in an heir female, Margaret Ridley, who became
the wife of Richard Egerton, and had a son Thomas Egerton, her hei'.r.
As Standley was now out of the way, the Egertons, represented in th at
generation by Sir Ralph, put in their rightful claim to the manor of Ri d-
ley, and were successful in its possession, with all the costly improvements
on the estates made by William Standley. The singular circumstances
show that this ancient property, once evidently wrested from the real hei rs
unjustly, came back to the legal representative after many years, so mu<eh
increased in value as to almost make good the loss of possession during the
occupancy of its unlawful holder. It will be seen by reference to the ped i-
grees of the Ridley family following this article, that the alliances betwee:n
the families of Ridley and Egerton had been cemented by several mar-
riage bonds. Sir William Grosvenor, of Eton, had married Susan Ridley,
and their daughter or granddaughter became the wife of one Sir Ralph
Egerton. There had also been intermarriages between the families pre-
vious to the death of the last heiress of the junior branch of the Ridley

The manor of Ridley continued in the Egerton family from 1509 to
1603, when it passed by sale to Orlando Bridgeman, Bart., Lord Keeper
of the Great Seal to King James I, thence into the possession of the fam-
ily of Pepheys, in the early part of the seventeenth century, and is now
owned by William Pepheys, Earl of Cottenham. This family have never
made Ridley Hall their residence. During the civil wars the ancient house
was garrisoned by the Parliament ; an unsuccessful attack was made upon
it on the 4th of June, 1645, by a party from the garrison at Beeston Cas-
tle. The Hall was burned in the year 1700.

"Ridley Chancel" was kept in repairs by the Pepheys to 1873, when
they threw it upon the wide world, their liability to keep it longer in good
condition being at that time repudiated.

The town of Ridley is in the first division of the Hundred of Edisbury,


County Palatine of Chester, six and a quarter miles from Nantwitch, and
in 1850 contained one hundred and twenty-three inhabitants.

It is not known whether Ridley Hall took its name from the family, or
the family then* surname from the place of residence ; the latter, however,
is 'the most probable conclusion, Ridley, or Ridleigh, as the name was
originally spelt, being a local name. William the Conqueror required all
residents to assume surnames at his accession, in order to properly keep
the records ; and the family at Ridley Hall, if then resident there, prob-
ably adopted the name at that time. As one authority in a local history
calls the Ridleys "a gentile family," it is possible that their ancestor came
with William from Normandy, and was rewarded with the lands of Ridley
for services in his army ; indeed nearly all the evidence points to that as
the origin of the family. I have not yet learned that the name stands on
the Domesday Book.

In St. John's church-yard, in the city of Chester, is a slab, which is partly
flat, and covered with flowing foliage, executed in low relief, and in part
cut away in order to disclose to view a sculptured semi-effigy ; the upper
part, including the figure, — that of a female, — is much worn and injured
by lapse of time, but the lower part of the stone is nearly entire. The
tracery and border-legend within which it is contained, are still sharp and
distinct, with the exception of a few letters only of the legend. The in-
scription in Latin on this monument is, —

" Hie jacet Agnes Victor Rice de-Ridlegh,

Ive Obiit Die,

Sabiti Pxi aw Flu.

Phi et Jacob a
.... C'C'X."

Translated : " Here lies Agnes, wife of Richard de-Ridlegh, who died on
Sabbath-day next before the feast of Philip and James, the apostles."

A junior branch of the ancient family of Ridley of Chestershire emi-
grated to Northumberland, and became settled upon extensive lands in
the valley of the Tyne, long before the elder line became extinct at Rid-
ley Hall. Just how their lands in Tynedale came to them has not been
learned; neither what place they made their first residence in that County.
They were certainly possessed of the castle and estates of Willimoteswick
as early as 1*280, and probably much before that date. Evidently daugh-
ters of Hudard de Willimoteswick were married to the Ridleys. Hudard
or Bedard de Willimoteswick was witness to a grant of land in Whitelaw,
to the Canons of Hexham, by Adam de Tynedale, in the reign of King
Henry II (1154). An evidence of the connection between the families of
Ridley and Willimoteswick is the fact that the singular name " Odard " or
" Hudard " came into the Ridley family about this time ; and the first who
bore the name was undoubtedly the heir to the estate.

Willimoteswick means the mote or keep of William ; the name may also
represent a villa. Bishop Ridley, the martyr, — whose uncle was resident
there, — in his farewell letter, written just before he was burned at Ox-
ford, spells the name " Willimountwick," and his friend Doctor Turner
has it " Willowmountwick." The willow tree in the dialect of Northum-
berland, where this old place is situated, is always called a " willey." But
Willimoteswick is the ancient and most common way of spelling the name;
mote is clearly Saxon, and means a court or meeting-place, both of which
were anciently held in the open air in ciruse surrounded by a trench and
vellum, and afterwards in castles and towers. The old distich —


" Willy willy waishale, Keep of my Castle,"

used in the north of England, in the game of " Limbo," contains the true
etymon of the adjective " willey ."

Willimoteswick Castle is situated on a wooded knoll, at the meet-
ing of the South Tyne and Blackleugh Burn. The farm offices and foun-
dation walls show that, in former times, it had been an extensive fortress.
Of the early history of the place little is known. The name does not
occur in the list of castles and towers of Northumberland, made out about
1460, although the family of Ridley was permanently settled there, as
previously shown, long before that time, and their names are not unfre-
quent in private documents respecting lands in Tynedale very early.

In 1542 the "good towre" of Willimoteswick was said to be in a good
state of "reparations," and so it long continued. The tower forming the
entrance to a farm-yard is massive and pictux*esquely covered with yellow
lichens ; the situation is very romantic, and the prospect from the eleva-
tion on which the castle stood, embracing a wide and diversified land-
scape, is very pleasing. The "silver Tyne" winds among the fields and
woodlands, glistening here and there like a burnished shield; beyond, the
pastoral hills are covered with flocks. A rustic stone bridge crosses the
burn [brook] that flows around the elevation, which is almost covered
with foliage and luxuriant grasses. The tower itself is oblong,* built in
substantial masonry with heavy overhanging battlements. Roger North
says, "The County of Northumberland was exceedingly infested with cat-
tle thieves (in feudal times), so that all considerable farm-houses were
built of stone in the manner of a strong tower, in which the cattle were
lodged every night; in the upper rooms the family lodged, and when an
alarm came, they went up to the top and with hot water and stones from
the battlements f aught in defence of their cattle."

The cattle and estate of Willimoteswick were held by the Ridley family
through a long succession of strong knights until 1652,f when, in conse-
quence of their steady adherence to the cause of King Charles, all their
lands and seats in Tynedale were confiscated and wrested from their
hands; the property was then sold by the parliament to Richard Musgrave,
whose daughter was the wife of William Ridley, Musgrave Ridley being
the last proprietor of his name.

" Then fell the Ridley's martial line,
Lord William's ancient towers;
Fair Ridley on the silver Tyne,
And sweet Thorngrafton's bowers.

" All felt the plunderer's cruel hand,
When Legal rapine through the laud
Stalked forth with giant stride ;

When Loyalty successless bled,

And Truth and Honor vainly sped

Against misfortune's tide."

* Willimoteswick Castle is a very fine example of a fortified domestic build-
ing : it forms one side of a square, the other three sides of which are offices, a large
gate-way, etc. ; all stone, to be fire-proof, even to the mangers of the stables.

f Willimoteswick and the Manors of Chatesworth (?), Henshaw (?), Ridley,
Walltown, Hardriding, and others, chiefly in the valley of the South Tyne, are on
the right side : i. e., on the English side of the Roman Wall, while Parkend is on
the north side. The estates of the Ridleys, on the south side of the Roman Wall,
were all confiscated, in consequence of the loyalty of the family in 16.52, while their
lands on the north side were retained, and are still held by them.
















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Under the Commonwealth, and in the reign of King Charles II, the
estate of Willimoteswick was, with other property in that neighborhood,
charged in the County rate upon a rental of seven hundred and forty
pounds a year, as owned by Francis Neville, of Chewitt, in the County of
York ; but since the beginning of the last century, it has been owned by
the Blacketts of Matfern. Willimoteswick was certainly considered the
principal residence of the Ridleys of Tynedale, and here the successive
chieftains, — a race of gallant and formidable knights, — long made their
abode. The broad and valuable lands of the Ridleys lay along the English
border, and became the scene of many a bloody hand-to-hand battle with
the clans who came down upon them from across the Scottish line. Here
rode forth from generation to generation the chiefs of the Ridley clan,
armed to the teeth and coated in mail, followed by members of the numer-
ous branches of the family living along the Tyne Valley at the time, to
redress their wrongs and wreak vengeance upon their enemies across the
border. When an attack was made upon them, every member of the clan
came to the defence, called to arms by beacon-fires kindled upon the
tops of towers or on the surrounding hills, and by the same signal when
about to make an aggressive movement upon their foes. The Ridleys
and Featherstons, of Featherston Castle, were at deadly feud, and for
many years seem to have watched for every opportunity to shed each
other's blood, as will appear from the following account of an engage-
ment at Greenscheles Cleugh, where on the 24th of October, 1530, the
Ridleys killed Alabamy Featherstonhaugh ; an event which was made
the source of the strange ballad, which Surtees pretended to have taken
down from the recitation of an old woman of eighty years, the mother of
a miner of Alston Moor, and which Sir Walter Scott inserted in his "Bor-
der Minstrelsy."

" Hoot awa', lads; hoot awa',
Ha' ye heard how the Ridleys, and Thirwalls, and a',
Ha' set upon Albany Featherstonhaugh,
And taken his life at Deadmans Shaw?
There was Willimoteswick,
And Hardriding Dick,
And Hughy, of Hawden, and Will, of the Wall;

I canna' tell all; I canno' tell all;
And many a muir that the de'il may knaw.

" The auld man went down, but Nichol, his son,
Run away afore the fight was begun;

And he run, and he run,

And afore they were done,
There was mony a Featherston gat sic a stun,
As never was seen since the world begun.

" I canna' tell a', I canno' tell a'.
Some gat a skelp, and some gat a claw ;
But they gae'd the Featherston's haud their jaw :
Nichol. and Alic, and a'.
Some gat a hurt, and some gat nane ;
Some gat a harness, and some gat sta'en,
Ane gat a twist o' the craig;

Ane gat a dunch o' the wame ;
Symy Haw gat lamed of a leg,
And syne ran wallowing hame.

" Hoot, hoot, the auld man is slain outright!
Lay him now wi' his face down ; — he 's a sorrowful sight.


Janet, thou donnot,
I'll lay my best bonnet
Thou gets a new gude-man afore it be night."

The old lady is made to say she had not heard the song sung for many
years, but that, when she was a lassie, it was sung at merry-makings "till
the roof rung again." The somewhat ludicrous description shows the dis-
orderly state of society in which a murder in cold blood was not only looked
upon as merely a casual circumstance, but, as stated in the succeeding
verses of the old song, sometimes became the source of jest and mockery.
" Willimoteswick," in the above verse, represented Sir Nicholas Ridley
of that place, and proves that he was then chief of that clan, not only be-
cause his name is not given, — being Avell known as "Ridley of Willi-
moteswick," — but he is mentioned first in the list. "Hardriding Dick"
was Richard Ridley, head of the family at Hardriding at that time. "Will
of the Wall'" was William Ridley, of Walltown, another ancient resi-
dence of the family, so named because situated on the old Roman Wall.
"Hughy of Hawden" was Hugh Ridley, a resident of Hawden, a place
near Willimoteswick and the other seats of the Ridleys of Northumber-
land. In this feudal attack an alliance was formed with the Thirwalls of
the castle of that name, a compact frequently entered into in those days by
families living neighbors, for the greater security of their properties.
Albany Featherstonhaugh made a figure during the reign of King Edward
VI, but fell at the hand of his deadly enemy, the bold and bloody "Ridley
of Willimoteswick," to whose merciless power the old man was left by his
son and successor, Nicholas, who ran away before the fight commenced.
The following from the notes in the works of Sir Walter Scott, proves
that a battle took place between the two clans: "24 Oct. 22 do Henrici
8 vi. Inquisito capt apud Hautwhistle sup visum corpus Alexandri Feath-
er ston. Gen, apud Grensilhaugh felonici inter \fecti, 22 Oct, per Nicolaum
Ridley de Unthauk Gen. Hugon Ridley, Nicolaum Ridley et alios ejusdem
nominus.^ Nor were the Featherstons without their revenge, for, " 36 to
Henrici 8 vi " we have " Utligatio Nicalia Featherston, ac Thome Nix-
son, etc., etc., pro homicitto Will Ridley de moral."

Ridley Hall, another ancient residence of the familv in Northumber-
land, was named for their ancestral seat in Chestershire. Some authori-
ties think Ridley Hall was possessed by the Tyndale Ridleys prior to their
attainder to the Willimoteswick estates, but in the absence of proof I am
unable to fix the dates of settlement with precision. This residence is
near where the Allan water falls into the river Tyne. The woods are
more justly celebrated for their beauty than those of any other place in
Northumberland, and far surpass those of the well-known Castle Eden in
the richness and variety of the scenery. They are of great extent, reach-
ing for several miles along the shores of the Allan toward Stewart Peel.
At the top of the woods, on the right bank of the Allan, a grassy terrace
leads to what is known as "Billbery Hill Moss House," whence there is
an extensive view up a deep glen to a promontory called " Stewart Peel ";
hence a winding path descends to the " Ravens' Craig," a bold cliff of
yellow sandstone which overhangs the river. A slightly-made chain
bridge is swung across the stream a little lower down, whence a steep
path in the hill leads through the woods to a tarn in the hill-top under a
grove of dark Scotch firs, and close to a purple moorland. Thence pass-
ing the " Swiss Cottage," a place called the " Hawk's Nest" is reached by
the " Craggy Pass," a narrow staircase cut in the side of the rocks which



. ii


overhang it. Different views of the woods and river are presented at
every turn of these walks, which were constructed by the owner in 1873,
and the foregrounds are a mixture of gray rocks, heathei', and hanging-
wood, with parasitic plants twining from stem to stem. The walks have
recently been extended to a bold range of rocks near " Plankie Mill."
Visitors are permitted to view the grounds and other attractions if they
ask to do so at the house.

A most singular adventure is said to have taken place at Ridley Hall
in the year 1723, when the then proprietor was absent in the city of Lon-
don, and an old female servant and her son were left in charge of the
place. On an evening when the old woman was sitting alone, a peddler
came to the door, declaring himself half-dead with fatigue, and begging
for a night's lodging. This the servant refused, when he implored that
he might leave his long pack while he looked elsewhere for shelter, stating
that he would return and take it away the next day. She consented to
grant this favor, and directed him to put down his luggage on the shelf
of the kitchen-dresser. Sometime after the man had departed the son
of the old woman came in from shooting, and learning the story, and
fancying he saw the pack move, in his excitement fired at it with his gun ;
streams of blood gushed forth, and on undoing the bundle the horror-
stricken pair found the shot had killed a man who had been sewed up in-
side. The peddler had brought this man to the house, that in case he
was not admitted himself to a lodging, the house might be opened in the
night and robbed by the two, but by the accident they were foiled, and
the safety of the house insured.

Some parts of Ridley Hall are very ancient, and undoubtedly formed a
residence of the Ridley family before the estates were lost, but there have
been many additions made at different times, until now the main building
presents quite a modern appearance. The gardens and grounds around
the house are quite extensive and ornamented with a rich variety of rare
trees, plants, and flowers. The last known proprietor was an old lady
named Davidson, and Mr. Ridley, of Parkend, was acting as her confiden-
tial agent. The colored view of Ridley Hall in this book was made from
a photograph taken on the grounds, and kindly furnished by my corres-
pondent there.

Haltwhistle. This ancient residence of the Ridley family of North-
umberland, is a small market town of seventeen hundred and fifty inhab-
itants. Many of the old stone houses retain battlements and other traces
of fortification. The Ridleys of Haltwhistle were long at feud with the
clan of Armstrong, a family that dwelt in the strongholds of the moun-

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 53 of 103)