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 76 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 76 of 103)
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self-reliance in future. The hour — ever-sad hour — of parting had
come, and the lad, clad in the rude costume of the northern seamen, with
bundle in hand, is standing at the cottage door ; around him were
gathered fair-haired and blue-eyed sisters, stalwart brothers, and, conspic-
uous in the group, stand the parents, their foreheads furrowed by the share
of time. The mother, with her head upon the shoulder of her departing
son, embraces him and weeps in silence; the father, with quivering lip
and voice tremulous with emotion, holds his boy by the hand and gives
his last admonition and benediction ; then the hands are pressed, the part-
ing kiss given, the farewell faintly spoken, and with swelling heart the
youth breaks aAvay, climbs the stile, passes beyond the hill, and is lost to
the view of the group about the door.

With tears falling like rain, the parents and children cast a last longing
look after the beloved son, and in silence, their hearts too full for utter-
ance, they go about the duties of life. What a void is left in that family-
circle ! What sad emotions fill the hearts of that group around the ingle
and humble board ! Sadly, pensively, they gaze upon the vacant seat,
and for many days, their food seemed tasteless to them in consequence of


the absence of their son. The father does not play the pipe, nor is the
mother's song heard as she works at the wheel. But time is healing, and
the demands of a laborious life soon made the recurrence of their thoughts
less frequent; they cling more closely to the little ones and the wonted
cheerfulness in time returns.

But turn from that home to follow the departed son. Crossing the
channel to the mainland he moves south to the Scottish border, thence
onward to England, where he was seized by a press-gang employed by the
British naval authorities, and hurried on board a man-of-war, which, in a
few hours, sailed for America. Reaching the New England coast, and
being in want of fresh water, they cast anchor off " Old York," in Mas-
sachusetts colony, and went on shore to fill their casks. Among the num-
ber sent on this errand was the subject of this narrative. He had been
pressed into a service which was invested with a bondage too galling to
be endured, and determined to seek his liberty at all hazards ; the favored
hour had now arrived, and the moment his feet .touched the shore he ran
for the deep and shadowy forest ; if he was pursued he was not overtaken,
and made good his escape.

And now consider the situation and prospects of this young adventurer.
How singular the fate which had placed him upon a foreign shore ! Alone
in a strange land ; but worse than that, alone in a deep, dark, howling
wilderness, and without the knowledge of the existence of any human
being within hundreds of miles of him, save those from whom he had so
recently escaped ; exposed to wild beasts and threatened with starvation,
with no weapon of defence or means of supply, his case was hard indeed.
But his was not a spirit to quail in an hour like this, and he pushes boldly
forward, like Abraham of old, "not knowing whither he went." The
shadows of night came down upon the primeval forest, and he could see
to proceed no longer ; wild beasts crept from their lairs and answered
each other with terrible screams from the hills around him; and weary,
cold, and hungry, the young man sank upon the leaves to rest. Long and
dreary was that first night in America. Fearing to sleep, he spent his
time in memory of his childhood home and the dear ones there ; the tears of
affection that fell upon the leafy couch hallowed the place and made it a
Bethel to him ever after. No sound save the howl of wild animals, the
hooting of owls, the solemn note of the night-bird, and the sighing of the
zephyrs in the trees above him, reached his ear. How sad his musings
and dark the forebodings of that night! What numbers of questions re-
volved in his troubled mind ! Was he to die alone and unknown in this
boundless wood, where none would ever learn his sad fate? Must his
body become food for wild beasts, and his requiem be sung by the wav-
ing pines? But he sleeps at last, and dreams of home and friends, while
the angels of God watch over him.

Rising from his hard bed he gathers roots and nuts to appease his
hunger, and, guided by the rising sun, he staggers on, over hills, down
through valleys, into tangled swamps, fording muddy streams, until, ex-
hausted and bruised by falling over ragged stones, night spreads her
mantle over him again, and he stretches himself once more upon the leaves.
Another night of troubled dreams, and he is up and away : away to the
highlands, and after a few hours of weary wandering he heard what made
his heart leap for joy, — heard a human voice, the echoes of which, ring-
ing through the forest, were sweeter music than lie ever heard. With
swelling heart and bounding step he hastens forward, till, in a little while,


he hears the echoes of a woodman's axe and the lowing of cattle ; the
voice of the plowman urging on his team and the welcome shouts of chil-
dren, proving the proximity of a settlement. And now he stands in the
midst of rude log-cabins, surrounded by a crowd of curious spectators,
who, viewing his naval costume and strange appearance, plied him with
many questions as to his origin and adventures. When his history was
briefly stated he was permitted to share the best provisions of the place.
This was in the year 1717. Here, in Old York, Magnus Ridland settled
and commenced life for himself; here he was united in marriage with a
lady of Scottish parentage and reared a family; here, as a yeoman, he
cleared his own farm and gathered his harvests.

He remained in York until 1729-30, when he sold his farm and removed
to Biddeford, where he purchased land and lived until the death of his wife.
He then married Massie Townsend, purchased land in Pepperellborough
(now Saco), and settled on "Rendezvous Point," near the bank of Saco
River. Children blessed the second union. The elder sons married and
settled near their father. Grandchildren gathered round the knees of Mag-
nus, and he told them the history of his strange life, and sung to them
the wild songs learned in the island home of his childhood ; here he passed
a tranquil old age, surrounded by a numerous posterity; here he died and
was laid down to rest, — down upon the shore of old ocean.

His trials were now over; his name stands upon the page of history as
one of the original members of the first church organized in his town, and
he has undoubtedly been gathered to "his fathers," where no rolling sea can
separate the sainted ones. Many of his countrymen had settled around
him, and every effort was made to hear from kindred left in the Ork-
neys, but no news ever reached the American family. The tradition of
the romantic adventures of Magnus has been told at the firesides of every
generation, of his descendants till scarcely one of the name can be found
who has not heard it in childhood.

The aged parents of Magnus had waited and hoped for the return of
their long-absent son, or of some account of his fate, but this was not to
be ; old age came on apace, and bowed with a burden of years, they went
down to death and were laid to rest in the " ould kirk-yard," where they
had so often led their children to hear the Word of God. How many
times had these parents looked toward the hill over which their son passed
when last they beheld him ! With what anxiety and suspense did they
look away toward the sea, hoping some approaching vessel would bring
back their boy! Alas, he never returned! One by one the family on
both sides of the Atlantic have fallen, and now the gathered ones on the
celestial shore are more numerous than the family on earth. No meeting
of members of the European and American families is known to have
taken place till William Ridlon, of Boston, Mass., called on Jerome
Ridland, who had come from Shetland to that city.

In the common tradition no mention was made of a daughter in the fam-
ily of Magnus, the American ancestor; all told of the "seven sons of the
little Scotchman," and had supposed they had no sister; but the records
of the town of York prove there was a daughter Susanna, her mother's
namesake, who died in infancy, and was buried where

"The wild waves roar on old ocean's rugged shore."

The seven sons grew to maturity, and settled in their native state, —
Ebenezer, in Buxton; Matthias followed his sons to Hollis ; John lived


and died in Buxton; Daniel domiciled upon a part of his father's land
in Saco ; Abraham was a seaman, and never married ; Jeremiah succeeded
to the homestead farm, and Jacob, the youngest, was drowned near the
place of his birth. These sons were plain folk, uneducated and uncul-
tured ; reared in the rude colonial settlement, without the privileges of
schooling, they adapted themselves to the times and conditions in which
they lived, and became hardy, sturdy men. They had sterling qualities,
nevertheless, and possessed a high sense of honor ; their courage and de-
termination were never questioned. They cleared away the forests and
led onward the tide of civilization ; they established governments, and
defended the claims of justice. Members of this family were upon the
battle-fields of every war since their settlement in America. Magnus, the
ancestor, was one of fourteen soldiers under the direction of Sir William
Pepperell, to " scout along the coast eastward from Piscataqua to Casco "
(now Portland). During the Revolution, all male members of the family
who were of age, entered the colonial army, and some of the old men
died in the service, far from home. In this struggle for independence
they never shrank at duty's call, and some were specially noticed by their
commanders for their brave conduct when before the enemy.

In the war of 1812, another generation represented the example of
their fathers, and hastened to defend their country. Some won distinc-
tion upon the sea in the privateering service, some received wounds in
engagements upon the land, and others were captured by the enemy and
shut up in British prisons, from which, if they were released, they never
returned to their homes and kindred.

Upon the battle-fields of Mexico another generation so bravely fought
and suffered as to call forth high commendations from their superiors in
rank, and some died with malarial fevers and were buried in camp.

When the memorable struggle with the South took place, our noble
sons rallied at their country's call from every branch of the family, from
the coast of Maine to the Pacific slope, and poured out their blood like
water upon the altar of their country. Some of these were gray-haired
fathers, who, when the foe pressed hardest, girded on the armor and has-
tened to the front. From their stores, shops, manufactories, and farms
they went to the seat of war, determined to preserve the Union or die
in the service. Many were shot in action, others were thrown into the
filthy prison-pens of the South, and died of wounds, inhuman treatment,
and starvation. Some contracted disease in the malarial swamps and
returned home to linger, fail, and die, while many still live to suffer
from their wounds, and relate to their children their adventures in the
army. Thank God! the cause for which they fought and bled was not
lost to us, nor to the poor slave. Where once stood the auction-block of
the slave-master, at which families were separated ignominiously, and
hearts were wrung with the keenest anguish, now waves the grand old
flag, under whose starry folds our kinsmen so nobly fought and fell.
Though there were no soft hands of mothers, wives, and sisters to minis-
ter to them in their last hours, and to wipe away the death-damp from
their pale brows; though their graves were made, or their bones bleached,
upon Southern fields, far from homes and kindred, the sweet assurance of
duty well done made their death tranquil, and no tramp of marshaled hosts,
or beat of drum, shall arouse them again to meet the advancing foe.

As stated in this article, the first American ancestor was a member of
the church, and his numerous descendants have generally manifested a


religious tendency. Hundreds have been prominent and devoted Chris-
tians ; a score have filled the deacon's office, and ten or more have been
ministers of the gospel.

The members of this family have excelled as farmers and mechanics ;
in these vocations they have manifested a commendable pride, and the
exhibition of their ingenuity and skill has been conspicuous in whatever
work they have accomplished. They were born with mechanical procliv-
ities, and took naturally to the trades ; tbey were possessed of self-reliant
qualities, and never asked another to do what they could do themselves ;
without learning from others, they seemed ready to turn their hands suc-
cessfully to the construction of their own mills, farm-buildings, and imple-
ments. They were builders of vessels at Saco ; erected the first mills in
towns where they settled, and constructed almost every article of hus-
bandry and domestic use, from wood, iron, or leather. Few members
have been engaged in trade or speculation, and fewer still have been good
financiers. Of a quiet, retiring disposition, they did not aspire to public
life or political distinction, and but few have held official stations. Many
of them, however, have cultivated a taste for reading, and being generally
possessed of retentive memories, they became men of wide information
and profound thought. They kept close at home, and despised notoriety ;
read for their own comfort, kept their mouths shut, and hence few ever
knew of the fund of knowledge they had acquired. Plainness of speech
was a conspicuous trait of character in the family ; indeed this feature
prevails in all branches and has been universally recognized. Emphatic
in their intercourse with others, their answers were brief and pointed,
and no words were wasted. A peculiar eccentricity seems to have been
stamped upon every generation and individual ; this is proverbial, and
noticeable where they are known ; it is a hard trait to describe, and its
development must be seen and known by association to be appreciated ;
it gives color and tone to everything they do or say. They appear cold
and reserved in the presence of strangers, and visitors at their homes have
sometimes felt the influence of this disposition so much that their stay
was cut short, when their welcome was virtually most cordial and sin-
cere. But when once they have opened their hearts to their friends, they
remain firm and true to the end of life.

The wives and mothers taken from this family have been worthy of the
highest praise. They have been the faithful assistants of their husbands,
and it can be truly said of them, as of the model woman of the Bible, " she
will do him good and not evil all the days of his life." They have been
first and last at the sick and dying bed, proving the most careful nurses,
and their discretion and sagacity were observed by all who knew them.

But I cannot undertake to delineate all the peculiar traits of character
so common in the family ; these seem to be stereotyped upon every gen-
eration, and until the blood of the clan shall have been neutralized by the
infusion of many foreign tributaries, a Ridlon will be born, will live, will
die, and will be buried in a way peculiar to himself.



Maguns Redlon 1 (1). whose parents' names are not certainly known,
was born in Shetland, on the north coast of Scotland, in the year 1698 ;
came to America in 1717, and first appears as a resident of the ancient
town of York, in the County of that name, in the Province of Massachu-
setts, now in the State of Maine, where he married Susanna, daughter of
Matthew Young,* and widow of Ichabod Austin, t of the same town, in

♦Roland Young, of Kittery, whose wife was Susanna, was from Scotland, and
had children as follows : Joseph. Beniah, Jonathan. Matthias (on some old records
spelt Mathew), Mary, Susanna, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Mercy. Matthias settled in
York, and was father of Susanna, the first wife of Magnus Redlon, whose sons,
Jacob and Ebenezer Redlon, also married members of the same family of Young.

fThe Austens or Austins were derived from an ancient family in Surrey. Eng.,
and their ancestors were seated at " Shalford House," in Surrey, as early as 1600.
John and George Austen, Esqrs., erected the house ever since the residence of the
family, inlGOS, on the site of a rectorial manor-house. These gentlemen repre-
sented Guilford in parliament, — the former in 15G3, and the latter in 1G03, — and
to them the town was indebted for the preservation of many of its estates. The
original mansion was modernized about 17G0, by an uncle of the present proprietor,
the exterior, however, presenting no architectural distinctions. The old dining-
parlor is indicative of the age in which it was built. This room is of oak panel,
having a carved oak ceiling and a chimney-piece of great beauty, on which are em-
blazoned the family arms, crest, and motto, with various impalements. In this
ancient dining-hall several conferences took place, at which Cromwell and other
leaders of the Puritan party assisted: the house at that time belonged to Colonel
Austen, whose portrait, with many others of representatives of the family, remains ;
this gentleman was wounded at the battle of Worcester, and was one of those who
signed the petition to the Lord Protector that he should assume the regal title.
The grounds around Shalford House are extensive, and arc much enhanced in beauty
by the River Wey meandering through them in a most circuitous form, and the dis-
tant view of St. Catherine's Hall, with its ruinous chapel, supposed to have been
erected by Henry III. The present owner of this estate is sir ffenry-Edmond Aus-
ten, a gentleman of great influence, and of commanding personal appearance.

Ichabod Austin, Jr.. went to Saco with the Redlon family, and his name is found
with that of Magnus Redlon, who married his mother, on a petition to Gov. William
Shirley, in 1742^ then of Narraganset No. 1, now Buxton, York County, Me. Be
settled in Nobleborough, Lincoln County. Me., as blacksmith, and Robert Redlon, the
son of .John Redlon and grandson of Magnus Redlon, went to Nobleborough and
learned the trade with him. Ichabod Austin married and left numerous descen-
dants now living in the eastern section of Maine. There was also an Elizabeth
Austin associated with the Redlon family at Saco, presumed to have been in some
way related to Ichabod.


1720 (she was born Nov. 23, 1701, — presumably in Scotland, — and
died in 1730), and had issue five children, one daughter and four sons,
whose names and births stand recorded in the ancient books of the town.
This man changed his own surname, or others wrote it erroneously, sev-
eral times during the first few years of his residence in the colony. In a
letter from William Pepperell of Maine, to the governor of Massachusetts,
dated " Kittery, May the 11th, 1717," he says, "May it please your exc'l'cy.
I have sent you under the conduct of Sarg't Jon. Kingsbury, ten men im-
prest at York," and in the list of names that follow is that of " Magnus,
Redlife." It appears from a deed in the County office at Alfred, Me., that
Magnus Ridlife purchased a tract of land in York, in 1719, of Banks Bane
and Prebble, " containing twenty and two acres situate between two brooks,
namely ye Situate Marsh Brook upon ye north-west of ye Sawmill now
in ye possession of ye said Banks Bane and Prebble, and ye Fall Mill
Brook." In this deed a reservation was made "of one half acre for a
landing-place for ye sawmill, and a right-of-way across said land in win-
ter." This was the first home-farm of our ancestor in the New World.
He was styled "laborer" in this deed, but when the same land was con-
veyed to Jedediah Prebble of York, Feb. 11, 1728, he was styled "yeo-
man " ; the last-mentioned deed was signed by "Magnus Readlan " * and
"Susanna Readlan." The subject of this notice now removed to Bid-
deford, purchased land, and builfc a house there, but after the death of his
wife Susanna, he sold his property, as proved by a deed to Amos Whit-
ney, dated Sept. 22, 1730, by which "Magnus Redlon " conveys "a cer-
tain house of thirty-eight feet long by twenty feet wide, one story, with
sundry movable goods in said house, which house is standing on the east
side of Saco river." He soon after married Massie, daughter of Abraham
Townsend,f and purchased of his new father-in-law " a tract of land and

* In the list of imprest men named by William Pepperill with that of Magnus
Redlife is " Henry Reedle."

fTHK Townshends — now spelt Townsend and Townsou in the United States, —
deduce their descent from Ladovic, a noble Norman, who settling in England during
the reign of Henry I, assumed the name of the family ; and by a marriage with Eliza-
beth, daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas de Haville, obtained the Manor of Rayn-
ham, County Norfolk, which has continued in the family, and is now their principal
English residence. They have been very distinguished in Great Britain, and have
for several generations enjoyed the title of viscount and marquis; and a
branch, by virtue of marriage with the family of Sydney, have risen to the title of
Viscount Sydney. Several representatives of this celebrated family emigrated to
this country very early, since when, as authors, statesmen, and military officers,
they have supported the honor of the family name. The Townsends have so fre-
quently intermarried with the Redlons, in Maine, that some account of this branch
should be placed before the readers of this genealogy.

Abraham Townsend, of Boston, in consideration of one hundred and fifty pounds
current money of New England, received by conveyance from John Hobbs, of Bos-
ton, "all that tract of land which was boughU of Maj. William Philips and Bridget,
his wife, by Christopher Hobbs, the grandfather of the said John Hobbs, being and
lying in the town of Saco, bounded on ye Northwest with the Brook commonly
called Davises Brook, and on ye Northeast by ye River of Saco, and on ye South-
west by land which was formerly Mr. John Smith's, and afterwards in ye possession of
Nicholas Bulley, Gent., and by all that breadth Southwest untill three hundred acres
be fully completed and ended, together with eight acres of meadow 7 , being in ye
great meadow, and called ye Wood meadow." This deed was dated April 25, 1724.
" Abraham Townsend, of Biddeford, yeoman," Aug. 13, 1724, conveyed to John Cen-
ter one-half of the tract of land before mentioned ; deed signed by Abraham Townsend
and Judith Townsend. In 1728 Abraham Townsend and his wife Judith, "late of
Biddeford," convey the remaining half of the tract purchased of John Hobbs to


salt marsh in Scarborough, on "ye north side of Little river, called ye Rog-
ers Gore." In 1742 the name of " Magnes Redlen " appears with that of
his stepson, Ichabod Austin, on a petition to Gov. William Shirley, respect-
ing the settlement of lands in Narraganset No. 1, now in Buxton, Me.,
and he is supposed to have been a proprietor there at that date.

Magnus Redlon purchased extensive lands in Saco, bordering on the
river, and extending across Goosefair River, as proved by his will. He se-
lected a beautiful spot on Rendezvous Point,* close to the bank of the
Saco River, and within a few rods of the block-house there, for his dwell-
ing, and Folsum, the historian of Saco, says, " The house of Magnus Red-
lon on Rendezvous Point was fortified witli flankers and stockades."
Here he lived the remainder of his days, and only a few years ago the
foundation of his chimney and the depression of the cellar could be seen
in his old river-field ; but since, all traces of a dwelling have been obliter-
ated by the plough.

The name of Magnus Redlon stands on the records of the first church
of Saco as a charter-member. He made his will in 1766, and died in
the family of his youngest surviving son, in 1772, aged 78 years.
He was buried near his own house, by the side of his two wives,
but no stone can now be found to distinguish their graves from others of

Joshua Cheaver, of Boston, cordwainer. Abraham Townsend purchased in the
town of Saco, in 1728, land known as " James Gibbons' first division," and the saint-

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 76 of 103)