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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Belgium, English

Where did the English Riddell family come from? What is the English Riddell family crest and coat of arms? When did the Riddell family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Riddell family history?

The name Riddell was brought to England in the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Riddell family lived in Yorkshire at Ryedale or in Westmorland at Ryedel. The name Riddell and its variants occur in both locations. Riddell is a classic example of an English polygenetic surname, which is a surname that was developed in a number of different locations and adopted by various families independently.

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Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Riddell, Riddle, Riddall, Riddells, Ridel and others.

First found in Aquitaine where this baronial name was derived from a Gothic race. It was here that the Baron of Blaye (c. 1030) granted lands to the Abbey of Fons Dulcis near Bordeaux. This grant was confirmed by Gerald de Blavia and one of his sons Geoffre Rudelli (Ridel.) The latter lived 1079-1099 and left for Scotland during the time of King David I. Upon his arrival, he received grants of lands. He was the ancestor of the Riddells, Baronets. Another Geoffrey Ridel from the preceding generation went to England from Apulia with William Bigod and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. He was Crown Commissioner in 1106. In 1120, he succeeded Ralph Basset as Justiciary. Stephen Ridell was appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1186 and years later Stephen Riddel was Lord Chancellor of Ireland (c. 13131318).


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Riddell research. Another 375 words(27 lines of text) covering the years 1030, 1106, 1124, 1577, 1582, 1590, 1595, 1601, 1604, 1616, 1632, 1669, 1700, 1664, 1747 and are included under the topic Early Riddell History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 63 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Riddell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Riddell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 125 words(9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Riddell or a variant listed above:

Riddell Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • William Riddell settled in Virginia in 1635
  • William Riddell, aged 16, landed in Virginia in 1635
  • Archibald Riddell settled in New Jersey in 1685
  • Archibald Riddell, who landed in New Jersey in 1685

Riddell Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • George Riddell, who arrived in Virginia in 1770
  • John Riddell, who arrived in Virginia in 1770

Riddell Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • James Riddell, who landed in Mississippi in 1845

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  • John Leonard Riddell (1807-1865), American science lecturer, science fiction author and inventor of the first practical microscope to enable binocular viewing of objects through a single objective lens
  • William Renwick Riddell (1852-1945), Canadian judge and legal historian
  • George Allardice Riddell (1865-1934), 1st Baron Riddell, Scottish solicitor and newspaper proprietor
  • Henry Scott Riddell (1798-1870), Scottish poet and songwriter
  • Walter Alexander Riddell (1881-1963), Canadian civil servant, diplomat, and academic
  • Elizabeth Riddell (1910-1998), Australian (New Zealand born) poet and journalist
  • Michael Riddell (b. 1953), New Zealand writer
  • Mark Robert Riddell (b. 1981), Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played from 2001-2011
  • Sir John Riddell (1726-1768), 6th Baronet of Riddell
  • Sir Walter Buchanan Riddell (1763-1784), 7th Baronet of Riddell

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  1. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  3. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  4. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  5. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  6. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  7. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  8. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  9. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  10. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  11. ...

The Riddell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Riddell Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 21 November 2013 at 10:54.

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