Show ContentsRiddell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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 Rydal with Loughrigg. 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.

The family is "descended from the ancient Counts of Angouleme, who claim to have received their fief from Charles the Bald in 866. The surname was first assumed about 1048 by Galfrid or Geoffrey, the second son of Count Galfrid,who had for his inheritance the barony of Blaye in Guienne, and married the heiress of Perigord." [1]

Early Origins of the Riddell family

The surname Riddell was 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. [2]

"Almost all the versions of the Battle Abbey Roll include the name of Ridel. By reference to the first volume of "Pipe Rolls," edited by Mr. Stapleton, it will be seen at p. 119, that Geoffrey Ridel rendered account for himself and for Geoffrey de St. Denis of forty shillings for two copes. It was by this tenure that the fief of Blosseville in the pays de Caux, was held, which gave to the possessor in later times the title of Vicomte hereditaire, Chatelain et Seigneur Haut Justicier de Blosseville. This entry proves that the Ridels originally existed in Normandy. The first of the race, explicitly proved to have been settled in Scotland, is Gervasius Ridel, the earliest High Sheriff of Rosburghshire. The Norman Ridel was ancestor also of the eminent Northumbrian House of Riddell of Fenham and Swinburne Castle." [3]

Stephen Ridell was appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1186 and years later Stephen Riddel was Lord Chancellor of Ireland (c. 1313-1318). A member of the family of Picard changed his name to Ruddle, at the instance of King Edward IV., to denote his birthplace. [2]

"Hugh de Ridel was one of the hostages given to Henry II. for William the Lion, King of Scots, having acquired through his wife, Margaret de St. Medard, the manor of Cranston in Scotland, which was lost in the subsequent Scottish wars, and Withering in Northamptonshire, held for three hundred years and upwards by his descendants." [1]

In Scotland, "the Ridels never prefixed de, and the de Rydales invariably did so because they came from a place so-called. The first Ridel of Craneston was probably Gervasius Ridel who appears as a witness in the Inquisttio of Earl David as to the extent of the lands of the church of Glasgow, c. 1124, and was most probably a descendant of the Galfridus Ridel de Blaye of 1048. At this day the name is a strictly personal one in Normandy. Gervasius also appears as a witness to charters in the reigns of Alxander I and David I. The first of the Riddells of that Ilk was Walter de Ridale or Riddale who received a charter from King David, c. 1150, of the lands of Whitimes (an error for Whittune), Eschetho I to which he transferred the name of his Yorkshire property, and Lilislive (now Lilliesleaf). He also appears as a witness in many charters in the cartularies of Dryburgh, Holyrood, Glasgow, Newbattle, Cambuskenneth, Dunfermline, etc. He died without issue, c. 1155, and left his property to his brother Anschetil or Ansketil de Riddel by a will which was confirmed by Pope Adrian IV." [4]

Early History of the Riddell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Riddell research. Another 224 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1030, 1106, 1124, 1577, 1582, 1590, 1595, 1601, 1602, 1604, 1616, 1632, 1652, 1663, 1664, 1669, 1674, 1700, 1747 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Riddell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Riddell Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Riddell family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Sir John Riddell, 1st Baronet (d. 1632)
  • Sir Walter Riddell, 2nd Baronet (d. c. 1669)
  • Sir John Riddell, 3rd Baronet (d. 1 April 1700)

Riddell Ranking

In the United States, the name Riddell is the 4,743rd most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [5] However, in New Zealand, the name Riddell is ranked the 715th most popular surname with an estimated 1,000 people with that name. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Riddell family to Ireland

Some of the Riddell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 69 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Riddell migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 17th Century
  • William Riddell, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • William Riddell, aged 16, who landed in Virginia in 1635 aboard the ship "Paul" [7]
  • Archibald Riddell, who landed in New Jersey in 1685 [7]
Riddell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • George Riddell, who arrived in Virginia in 1770 [7]
  • John Riddell, who arrived in Virginia in 1770 [7]
Riddell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Riddell, who landed in Mississippi in 1845 [7]

Canada Riddell migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Riddell Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Edward Riddell, aged 3 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Sobraon" departing 8th May 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 29th June 1847 but he died on board [8]

Australia Riddell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Riddell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Jean Riddell, Scottish convict from Edinburgh, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on December 14, 1835, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [9]
  • Miss Ann Riddell, (b. 1824), aged 17, Scottish house servant from Aberdeen, Scotland departing on 8th July 1841 from Greenock, Scotland aboard the ship "New York Packet" arriving in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 23rd October 1841 [10]
  • Miss Isabella Riddell who was convicted in Aberdeen, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Emma Eugenia" on 25th October 1850, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [11]
  • Mr. Joseph Hadley Riddell, British Convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Dudbrook" on 17th November 1852, arriving in Western Australia [12]
  • William Riddell, aged 25, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Charlotte Jane" [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Riddell migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Riddell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • George Riddell, aged 31, a carpenter, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "George Fyfe" in 1842
  • Marion Riddell, aged 31, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "George Fyfe" in 1842
  • James Riddell, aged 3, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "George Fyfe" in 1842
  • Allison Riddell, aged 1, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "George Fyfe" in 1842
  • Miss Sarah Riddell, (b. 1834), aged 25, Scottish settler from Lanark travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 14th November 1859 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Riddell (post 1700) +

  • 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
  • James Riddell (1823-1866), English classical scholar, eldest son of James Riddell (1796–1878), M.A. of Balliol College, rector of Easton, Hampshire
  • John Keith Riddell (1931-2024), Canadian politician in Ontario
  • Michael Riddell (1953-2022), New Zealand Christian minister and writer, born in Porirua East (now Cannons Creek), New Zealand
  • Ian Riddell (1937-1938), Scottish semi-professional footballer who made 168 appearances as a left-back
  • Mr. Christopher Barry Riddell O.B.E. (b. 1961), born in Capetown, South Afriaca, British Illustrator and Cartoonist, was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 29th December 2018 for services to Illustration and to charity [15]
  • Clayton H. "Clay" Riddell OC (1936-2018), Canadian businessman who was the founder, president and CEO of Paramount Resources, based in Calgary, Alberta
  • Robert Riddell (d. 1794), Scottish antiquary and patron of Burns, son of Walter Riddell of Newhouse, who was taken prisoner in 1745 by the Jacobites and died in 1788
  • John Riddell (1785-1862), Scottish peerage lawyer, eldest son of Henry Riddell of Little Govan, a scion of the ancient family of Riddell in Roxburghshire
  • Henry Scott Riddell (1798-1870), Scottish poet and songwriter, son of a shepherd, born at Sorbie, parish of Ewes, Dumfriesshir; he started his working career as a shepherd at Deloraine, Selkirkshire
  • ... (Another 13 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Miss Alice Riddell (d. 1914), British Stewardess from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [16]

  1. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  4. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. "Most Common Last Names in New Zealand." Forebears,
  7. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 93)
  9. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1835 with 132 passengers. Retrieved from
  10. Ship Voyages to New South Wales (Retrieved 18th November 2020). Retrieved from
  11. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th April 2022).
  12. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 23rd July 2021). Retrieved from
  13. South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CHARLOTTE JANE 1852. Retrieved
  14. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  15. "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018,
  16. Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from on Facebook