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

Origins Available: Belgium, English

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

The name Riddle reached England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Riddle family lived in Yorkshire at Ryedale or in Westmorland at Ryedel. The name Riddell and its variants occur in both locations. Riddle 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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Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Riddle include 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 Riddle 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 Riddle 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 Riddle Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Riddle 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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In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Riddles to arrive on North American shores:

Riddle Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Eliz Riddle, who arrived in Virginia in 1704
  • Thomas Riddle, who arrived in Virginia in 1704
  • Robert Riddle, who arrived in New England in 1718
  • Hugh Riddle, who arrived in New England in 1718
  • Margaret Riddle, who arrived in Virginia in 1722


Riddle Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Johan Riddle, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1803
  • Johan Riddle, who arrived at Philadelphia in 1803
  • Christopher Riddle, aged 30, landed in New York in 1812
  • Samuel Riddle, who landed in Norfolk, Va in 1817
  • Charles Riddle, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838


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  • Almeda Riddle (1898-1986), American folk singer
  • Jeff C. Riddle (1863-1941), American Indian historian of the Modoc War
  • Johnny Riddle (1905-1998), American baseball player
  • Nelson Riddle (1921-1985), American band leader and arranger, best known for his work for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and many more
  • Robert M. Riddle (1812-1858), American politician, Mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1853 to 1854
  • Theodate Pope Riddle (1867-1946), American architect
  • George Read Riddle (1817-1867), American engineer lawyer and politician, U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Delaware
  • Haywood Yancey Riddle (1834-1879), American politician and University professor, member of the United States House of Representatives from Tennessee
  • Oscar Riddle (1877-1968), American biologist
  • Stu Riddle (b. 1976), New Zealand footballer

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  • Descendants of Hampton and Nancy Riddle, 1814-1972 by Norma Simpson.
  • A Partial History of the Riddle-Beavers Families: of Botetourt County, Virginia, Highland County, Ohio, Decatur and Page Counties, Iowa by Andree Sieverin Hoeman.
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  1. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  2. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  5. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  6. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  11. ...

The Riddle Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Riddle 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 18 June 2014 at 15:00.

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