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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ar. as many pellets. Crest, a bull pass. gu.

5. Ridley, Shropshire. Gu. a chev. ar. collared gu.

6. Ridley, Ticket and Westwood, Northumberland and Yorkshire. Ar. a bull
pass. gu. on a mount vert.

7. Ridley (as borne by Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London). Gu. on a chev.
betw. three falcons close, ar. as many pellets. Crest, a bull pass. gu.

8. Ridley, County Surrey. Gu. a chev. betw. three birds, ar.

UNDESIGNATED ARMS OF RIDLEYS.

9. Ridley. Ar. a chev. sa. betw. three cocks' heads, erased, gu. Crest, on
a chapeau a salamander in flames ppr.

10. Ridley, or Redleigh. Gu. a chev. betw. three birds, ar.

11. Ridley. Gu. a chev. betw. three birds, ar. Crest, a greyhound courant;
ar. collared, or.

12. Ridley. Ar. on a mount vert, a bull sa. armed gu.

13. Ridley. Az. a chev. betw. three falcons ar. armed and jessed or.

14.- Ridley. Gu. on a chev. ar. betw. three falcons close, or as many pellets.
Crest, a bull pass. gu.

15. Redley. Gu. a chev. or.

1G. Ridler. Same as Ridley of Ticket, Northumberland.

17. Ridley. Or. surmounted by bend az. with three stars, dexter an open
hand gu. Crest, a leopard, collared, chained, garnished, ramp. gd. Supporters,
sinister, a unicorn chained and collared; dexter, a tiger ramp, chained. Motto,
"Jamais Arriere" (never behind).

3



THE ANCIENT NORTHMEN, RIDDELL ANCESTRY.



The greatest genealogists of England and Scotland have said, " Few
families have claims to higher antiquity, than that of Ridel, or Riddell,
and fewer still have such grounds upon which to establish their preten-
sions ; indeed, the authorities supporting their history, are such as are
rarely found in tracing the genealogy of our old families, especially at a
period so remote as that at which theirs commences." As the ancestors
of this distinguished family made so conspicuous a figure amongst their
countrymen in the early wars, and were identified with all the fluctua-
tions and migrations of their race, it seems proper to present a compre-
hensive sketch of the history of the ancient nation from which they are
descended.

The several tribes of Scandinavians dwelling in Denmark, Sweden, and
Norway, originated on the shores of the German Ocean, and during their
southern incursions, were called Norsemen, or Northmen, in consequence
of their coming from the north of Europe. This was a proper name to
apply to this race while they were united as one kingdom, but after their
dissolution, the name Norman had reference only to the inhabitants of
Norway; they are now designated by the several countries in which they
live, namely, Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians. These ancient sea-kings,
or vikings, followers of Odin, have a noble history, and their influence
upon the civilization of Europe has been remarkable. Belonging to the
German race, they shared the love of liberty, the spirit of activity, and
the disposition to wander from their native land. They were divided
into numerous tribes, early acquainted themselves with the art of naviga-
tion, and were addicted to piracy. From the beginning of the eighth
century, they commenced to ravage the coasts of various parts of Europe,
and planted their feet upon the soil of every country within their reach.
Kings everywhere trembled at the name of the Northmen, and nations
were almost paralyzed at their approach. To mark the resemblance be-
tween the ancient national characteristics of the Northmen and their de-
scendants, representing the ancestry of the Riddell family, we will briefly
consider their early appearance and habits. They were broad-shouldered,
deep-chested, long-limbed, with slender waists, and small hands and feet;
their build told of strength, which was so prized by them that their puny
infants were exposed and left to die. Their complexion was almost always
fair, and the fair alone were considered beautiful or well-born. One early
writer says of the Northman, " His face was large ; his forehead broad,
with mickle eyebrows; his nose not long, but excessively thick; his upper
tip wide and long, while his chin ami jaw-bones were enormously broad.



THE ANCIENT NOBTHMEN, BIDDELL ANCESTBY. 35

He was thick-necked, and bis shoulders of superhuman breadth. In shape
well built, and taller than the most of men."

The ordinary dress of the sexes was nearly the same, — a shirt, loose
drawers, long hose, high shoes held by thongs twisted about the ankles.
They wore a short kilt or skirt at the waist, an armless cloak, with low-
crowned broad-brimmed hat, which completed the costume of the men.
The underclothing of both sexes was of linen; the outside garments of
woolen homespun, most prized when dyed blue or red. In time of war
their chieftains put on a coat of mail, woven of small rings of iron or
steel, which formed a complete network, and was so flexible — though
heavy — as to adapt itself to every necessary motion of the body. In
addition to the coat of mail, the ancient Northmen wore a cowl or corpun-
chon of the same material, thrown over the head and shoulders; over
this they placed a conical helmet, made of burnished steel and having a
neck-piece or visor, which, when closed, completely protected the head
and face. At the waist they wore a tunic, called by them the " hauberk,"
made of rings of steel, which with the "chausses" or leg pieces made of
the same material, constituted the complete equipment of the Northman
soldier. The Northman's shield was long and kite-shaped, having two bands
for the arm and one for the neck in case they wished to use both hands
in battle ; these were covered with hard leather, with steel rim and boss,
white in time of peace and red in time of war ; they were usually orna-
mented with some fanciful device, but not of an heraldic character. Their
arms were heavy lances, steel-pointed with an ashen shaft ; battle-axes ;
and, above all, a broadsword, the darling of the Northmen. Their lances
were decorated with long ribbon streamers, called by them "gonfalons."

Norman ships were long, half-decked galleys, propelled both by sails and
oars. The bow and stern were high, and were ornamented, the former
with a dragon's head, the latter with the tail, and thus a fleet of these ships
looked like huge sea-monsters, whose open jaws were ready to crush the foe.
The sails were gay, with stripes of blue, green, and red. In the prow
stood the warriors, in the stern their chief, and behind him the helms-
man. The rowers were protected during action by planks set up along
the bulwarks, and on the sides of the vessel was a gangway from which
to board an enemy's ship.

The character of these hardy Northmen fitted them for the adventure-
some and warlike destinies of the race. Possessed of an independent,
haughty, and unyielding disposition, and taught contempt of danger in
their struggles for existence in a rugged and barren country, they proved
themselves unconquerable. They were cold-blooded and unmerciful to-
ward their enemies, and, as one has said, "hard-featured when angry."
All these qualities were common to ancient conquerors, but were de-
veloped in a peculiar degree by the Northmen in every generation until
their distinctive habits were lost or modified by the blood of other nations.

As we follow the Northmen in their migrations and settlements, another
feature of character is conspicuous, namely, their versatility and power
of adapting themselves to the various and peculiar conditions of society
whither they went. They introduced but few new principles, but readily
assumed the language, religion, and ideas of their adopted country, and
became absorbed in the society around them ; this rule holds good with
the exception of Iceland, where they largely predominated over the in-
habitants who preceded them. But not so in resjject to their influence
upon the nations amongst whom they settled, for invariably they became



36 THE ANCIENT NOBTHMEN, UIDDELL ANCESTBY.



the master-spirits of the age, and deeply affected those with whom they
came in contact ; they inspired an increased activity, and rapidly devel-
oped institutions of literature and art ; they invented nothing, but perfected
and organized everything; all nations where the spirit of the Northmen
has been introduced", have reached the highesl degrees of prosperity under
their moulding power.

As early as the end of the eighth century the Northmen had discovered
and settled the Shetland and Orkney Islands, on the north coast of Scot-
land. These were subject to the kings of Norway and Denmark, but
under the independent government of earls, till the' year 14»'>s. While a
part of the Northmen were taking possession of the Western Islands,
others were moving south and ravaging the coast of France.

Rollo, or Rolf, one of the most famous chieftains of the Northmen,
formerly an Earl of Shetland and Orkney, followed by a large number of
his countrymen, made an incursion into France, and in the year 885
marched against Rouen, and subjugated everything in his way. Rollo
was a great warrior and statesman. He was surnamed the Ganger, or
Walker, because he was too tall and heavy for any horse to bear. He
followed the calling of a viking for fortv years before his conquests in
France and settlement at Rouen. He continued his devastating move-
ments until he was granted by treaty in the year 911 the whole province
on the west coast of France, which he called Normandy, or "the land of
the Northmen," otherwise the Duchy of Normandy, of which Rollo was
the first duke. He also married Gisela, the daughter of the king of
France, embraced Christianity, was baptised, and settled down at Rouen,
the capital of Normandy. The province was now divided into counties,
and subdivided into earldoms, and the lands bestowed upon the country-
men who had served Rollo, the duke, in his wars. Rollo continued to en-
large his hold in France by the frequent accession of new territory until
the time of his death in 932, when his body was entombed in the chapel
of St. Romanus at Rouen. He was about eighty years of age.

During all the years through which we have traced the Northmen, rep-
resentatives of the Ridel, or Rid dell, family were acting with them, and
accompanied them in all their migrations; indeed, their names appear con-
temporary with the earliest date of the Norman settlement in France, and
always associated with some important movement.

According to the writings of Playfair, Gaulter de Ridel followed Canute,
or Cnut, the Danish king of England, on his pilgrimage to Rome, in the
year 1025. He took with him two sons, — Oscital and Gaufrid, and the
latter having entered into the service of Rollo,* Duke of Normandy,
founded a family at Rouen ; the descendants of which continued there in
affluence till the Revolution of France. Oscital, or Anskitel, as the name
was sometimes spelt, returned to Scotland, and became the head of the
Ridel, or Ridale, family there.

In the conquest of Sicily, about 1060, by the Normans, two brothers
Ridel accompanied their fellow-countrymen, and were afterwards found in
distinguished positions. Goffridus Elide! figured there as Duke of Gaeta,
as early as the year 1072 ; and his brother Rignaldus, a- Count de Ponte Car-
vo, in 1093. John Riddell, Esq., the learned and distinguished antiquary
of Scotland, found in Norman records proof of the existence of Gulfridus

♦According to the date given above, there mast have been two Norman Dukes
named Rollo, a< the first died in 932 A. 1).



THE ANCIENT NORTHMEN, RLDDELL ANCESTRY. 37

and Roger Ridel, in possession of estates in Normandy, in the thirteenth
century; and also two great branches in France, classed among its mag-
nates there, and allied by marriage with many distinguished families, de-
nominated " Riddells of Baijerae," which terminated in heirs female.

In the absence of records, many of which were destroyed during the
Norman wars, it is impossible to discover the dates when lands were be-
stowed upon the Ridels in the various provinces in France ; but we know
they held the earldoms of Angoulesme, Piragord, and Agen, as early as
885 ; the latter, as will hereafter appear, having been acquired by the
marriage of Walgrinus Ridel with Rosalinda. The son and successor of
Walgrinus rebuilt the walls of the city of Angoulesme as a defence
against the Normans. A family of Ridels also inherited the baronies of
Montausier and Blaye, in the province of Guinne ; another family were
barons of Bergerac in Piragord ; another branch held the barony of Rilley in
Touraine ; another became possessed of lands in Nogent and Aurillac, in
Champagne in France. At what time the Ridels of France acquired the
lands called Ryedale, I cannot tell ; but it was evidently about the date
of the conquest of Apulia, say 1050, for Galfridus Ridel had assisted the
Normans in the reduction of this province, and was endowed with valu-
able lands there as a reward for his valor, and also granted the coat-of-
arms which has the motto, " de Apulia," and in the hand of the woman
supporting the shield are three ears of rye, hence, I suppose Ryedale was
the seat of Galfridus and his successors as long as they held this property;
and as this same cadet of the family assisted his countrymen as followers
of William the Conqueror, in the conquest of England, and was well re-
warded with valuable grants of land in that country when William was
crowned king, it may be presumed, with plausibility, that Ryedale in
Yorkshire constituted a part of those lands bestowed by the Conqueror,
and were named for the seat of this branch of the family in France. The
records in the Lyon Office of Scotland, however, state that the Galfridus
who came with the Conqueror, had a command in the Norman army, and
that he belonged to the family styled "Riddels of Anjou." His name on
the roll of Battle Abbey is Sieur Ridel.

The history of the Norman Ridels in England is of a meagre and some-
what obscure character. From what proof we have at hand, they seem to
have held high and prosperous positions under the Norman kings, and were
in unbroken communication with their kinspeople in France ; indeed, it
seems evident that Monsieur de Ridel, who followed the Conqueror to
England, returned soon after to look after his property in Normandy, and
sent over his sons to settle on the lands granted him in England. One
of this family formed an alliance with the noble house of Bassett by mar-
riage ; and another wedded Geva, the beautiful and accomplished daughter
of the Earl of Chester, one of whose descendants, Maud, or Matilda, Avas
the wife of David, Earl of Huntingdon, and became the maternal ances-
trix of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland. It is not known how many
generations of the Ridels continued the residence in England; but the
same family held landed estates in Normandy, England, and Scotland at
the same time, as will be seen hereafter in the genealogy. Those were
times of constant fluctuation, and lands were sometimes quickly gained
and as soon lost, by the changes resulting from the Norman wars.

Branches of the Norman stock of Ridel settled early in Italy and Ger-
many, where their descendants have continued ever since, evidently mul-
tiplying with every generation, while several of the branch families of



38 THE ANCIENT NORTHMEN BIDDELL ANCESTRY.

France ended in the male line and lost the name. Nearly all genealogical
writers have commenced the history of the Scottish branch of the Nor-
man family of Ridel with the early ancestors of the Roxburghshire Ri-
dales, but cadets of the family held lands in Scotland at an earlier date,
as will be seen in the genealogical departments of this book. Cranstown,
subsequently known as " Cranstown-Riddell," was in the possession of the
Norman Riddells with little intermission for about two centuries, and was
probably granted about A. D. 1100. One authority says Oscital Ridel,
having finished his pilgrimage to Rome, returned to his native land by
consent of King Malcolm Canmore, and gave his lands of Cranstown,
Preston, and others, to his son Hugo, who in the year 1110 bestowed
the church of Cranstown and certain lands in the barony upon the mon-
astery of Selkirk, which was founded by King David.

Sir Walter Scott, in a very complimentary note in his poem on Dole-
raine, has made an attempt to prove that the Roxburgh Ridales were
established in Scotland at a period far more remote than those of Crans-
town, but his conjectures cannot be sustained by any good authority, and
are ignored bv the best-informed of the familv in Scotland. He mentions
two stone coffins found in an ancient vault of the old church in the parish
of Lilliesleaf, which contained the remains of men of gigantic size, and bear-
ing date as early as A. D. 727 and A. D. 936. Scott also mentions the
date 1110 as found in the aisle of the ancient church of the Ridales of
Roxburgh, but the late Walter Riddell-Carre says in a communication to
the author, " There are memorials cut in the south wall, but they are not
of a sufficiently antiquated character, to represent a period so far back,
though they may have been recut in modern times, a not unfrequent pro-
cess employed to preserve dates nearly defaced by time."

When David I, Prince of Cumberland, who was a great colonizer, went
into Scotland he was followed by several cadets of the family of England,
one of whom, Gervase, or Geoffery Ridale, was a great favorite of King
David, being the first High Sheriff of the county and a constant attend-
ant on royalty, as proven by many crown-charters to which he was a wit-
ness ; one of the mosf ancient charters witnessed by this man was the
celebrated " Inquisito Principis Davidis" which was dated A. D. 1116.
Walter Ridale, a brother of the preceding, was also a witness to crown
and other charters; but that to himself granted by King David, eclipsed
them all, being the most ancient charter known from a king to a layman.
This document, dated A. D. 1125, granted an estate including lands called
Whittun, near the Cheviot Hills, to be held of the crown. These lands
were subsequently denominated the "Barony of Riddel! and Whittun."
This charter styles Walter Ridale "sheriff" and confirms to him all the
lands of which his brother Gervase died possessed.

Besides the charter before mentioned, the early ancestors of the Rox-
burgh family had two bulls; one from Pope Adrian IV, dated A. D. 1155,
and another from Pope Alexander III, dated A. D. 1160, which Mr. Nis-
bit, the well-known Scottish herald and antiquary saw, confirming to the
Ridales the lands received by charter from King David I, and other estates
not mentioned in that document. It is somewhat remarkable that these
fands were held in unbroken succession by the family for nearly seven hun-
dred years without an entail ; quite long enough to warrant Sir Walter
Scott in using the name of "ancient Riddell's fair domain." In a statement
from Walter Riddell-Carre, he says, " There are two things that present
themselves in a survey of the history of this family which seem remark-



THE ANCIENT NORTHMEN, RWDELL ANCESTRY. 30

able; on the one hand, the singular good fortune attending them in main-
taining the possession of their estates in direct succession for upwards of
six centuries ; on the other hand, that having never fallen lower, they
did not rise higher in the scale. Many names once famous have passed
away, and their lands, once called by their names, have gone into other
families, but Riddell after Riddell, of that ilk, followed each other, and
there was never wanting one to transmit the name and honors of the race.
Why, it may be asked, did they not, during that long time, climb to higher
positions, continuing only barons, knights, and gentlemen, while many
less pretentious of antiquity, secured patents of nobility? One explana-
tion may suffice; they held their lands by being contented with an honor-
able and safe level.

" Medio tutissiman ibis.

" Ambition has not unfrequently hurled headlong those who were deter-
mined to ascend higher than a wise Providence intended ; while during
the stormy mediaeval times many of the Scottish nobles and families of sta-
tion tarnished their names by acts of violence and treason, no such stain
attaches to the Riddells ; they enjoyed the favor and regard of their sov-
ereigns under whom they lived, receiving knighthood at their hands, and
were granted valuable lands as a reward for services faithfully performed.
But they had higher distinctions than mere worldly ones. In those days,
when to give lands to the church for the service of God was thought to
be a pious work, the Riddells were no niggards of their property, and in
after times when their religious faith caused them to suffer for ' conscience'
sake ' they were ready for prison or banishment."

This prestige has clung to the family from generation to generation,
passing unimpaired and unsullied from father to son, from their earliest
history. The Roxburgh Riddells seem to have built a castle on their lands,
and also a church, the former a place of great strength, but long since in
ruins, and now only the earthworks can be seen. A stone was found some
yeai-s ago near the present mansion, on which were cut the Riddell arms,
connected with those of the Kerrs, proving a very early alliance with that
historical family, — say four hundred years ago. The chapel built by this
family was a pre-reformation one, but the date of its erection cannot now
be certainly known. Scott mentions the demolition of an ancient church
at the time when the stone coffins, before mentioned, were found ; but
clear documentary proofs are wanting. It is evident that the early gen-
erations of the family were buried there, as bones have frequently been
dug up on the ground where the chapel stood.

The Norman Ridels inherited the national roaming disposition and love
of adventure, and consequently we find them engaged with their country-
men in all their wars and conquests ; which may account for the fact that
representatives of the family are found in every country newly acquired
by Norman arms, and always as possessed of landed property. Other
members of the Norman stock were early in Scotland, being well allied
by marriage, and owning extensive lands ; some of these lost their hold-
ings and removed to other parts, while some established and distinct fam-
ilies are still represented in the west of Scotland, denominated "Riddells
of Ardnamurchan and Sunart."

The Riddells of Ireland, whose history I will now follow, are nearly all
of Scottish origin, offshoots of the ancient families so long known in the
latter country. There were some, however, who evidently went to Ireland



40 THE ANCIENT NORTHMEN, UIDDELL ANCESTBT.

contemporary with their earliest settlements in England and Scotland,
but whether from those branch-families or cadets of some of the houses
of France, cannot be determined now with certainty. The first mention
of the Riddell name found in Ireland is in a pamphlet published at Down-
patrick in 184*2, which is entitled, "Notices of the Most Important Events
Connected with the County of Down." In this book there is an account
of the first settlement of the English in Ulster under Sir John de Courcy,
dated A. D. 1177, and among the names of families that were settled in
the province at that time were Savages, Whites, Benson s, and Riddells.
It cannot be known whether this family continued as residents of Ireland,
but it may be presumed that they were only nominal possessors, as none
of the more recent families in that country can be traced to so remote a
period in settlement. There is abundant evidence to prove that members
of the family from England and Scotland held commissions in Ireland at
a date long anterior to the colonization of Ulster by the Scottish Pres-
byterians, but no evidence to show that these men were permanently dom-
iciled there.

In the year 1603 King James commenced the undertaking of settling
six counties in the Province of Ulster, in the north of Ireland, with Scot-
tish subjects. James had been successful in crushing the Irish rebellion,
and having confiscated two million acres of land, conceived the idea of
sending his own countrymen to settle and occupy the newly acquired pos-
session. It was some time, however, before he could successfully execute
the plan, as the Scotch people did not view the project with favor and
were unwilling to move their families into Ireland. But inducements of
such a character were eventually held out by the government that a small
colony emigrated from the northwest coast of Scotland in 161:2 and
planted themselves in Ulster ; these were Presbyterian families from the



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 6 of 103)