Show ContentsRiding History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the name Riding date back to the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the Riding family lived in the village of Reading found in the county of Berkshire. 1 2 3 The surname Riding is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. In this case the surname was originally derived from the Old English word rydding which simply refers to an area that has been cleared. 4

"This place is unquestionably of great antiquity, but whether it owes its foundation to the Romans or to the Saxons is a matter involved in great doubt. Its name rather tends to strengthen the supposition that its origin is to be attributed to the latter people, the term Reading being most probably derived from the Saxon words Rhea, 'a river' or 'an overflowing,' and Ing, 'a meadow.' "5

Early Origins of the Riding family

The surname Riding was first found in Sussex. Some of the earliest records of the surname were: Robert de Reading (died 1325), English historian and a monk of Westminster; and John of Reading (Latin: Johannes de Reading, Johannes Radingia) who died 1346. He was an English Franciscan theologian and scholastic philosopher and follower of Duns Scotus. He wrote a commentary on the Four Books of Sentences written by Peter Lombard around 1320, at the University of Oxford. In 1322, he accepted a teaching position at Avignon and it was there that he died.

Early rolls proved the widespread use of the the name with various spellings: Grifin del Ruding in the Assize Rolls for Lancashire in 1246; Richard del Ryding at Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1227 and Sara de Redyngg in Colchester, Essex in 1311. 4

Early Norfolk records show Henry de Reding was Rector of Matlask, Norfolk in 1305; and John de Reding was Rector of Aldeburgh, Norfolk in 1328. 6

"The Readings, who have their principal home in this county, being also now found in Bucks and Oxfordshire, are probably the modern representatives of the Rædings, a Saxon Clan, that gave their name to their settlements in Derbyshire and in the eastern counties." 7

Early History of the Riding family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Riding research. Another 112 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1588, 1621, 1645, 1667, 1674, 1677, 1686, 1692, 1714, 1744, 1747, 1748, 1757, 1758 and 1767 are included under the topic Early Riding History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Riding Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Riding are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Riding include: Reading, Reding, Redding, Reddin and others.

Early Notables of the Riding family

Distinguished members of the family include John Reading (1588-1667), English Calvinist and Biblical commentator; Sir James Reading; John Reading (c.1645-1692), English composer and organist, Choir master of Chichester Cathedral (1674-1677); and...
Another 31 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Riding Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Riding Ranking

In the United States, the name Riding is the 18,483rd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 8

United States Riding migration to the United States +

Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Riding or a variant listed above:

Riding Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Andrew Riding, who landed in Frederick County, Maryland in 1797 9
Riding Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Riding, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1876 9
  • John Riding, aged 50, who immigrated to America, in 1896
Riding Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Emma A. Riding, aged 40, who settled in America from Northwich, in 1906
  • Harold Riding, aged 1, who settled in America from Blackburn, England, in 1907
  • Albert Riding, aged 33, who settled in America from Blackburn, England, in 1907
  • George G. Riding, aged 51, who immigrated to the United States from Acorington, England, in 1909
  • Annie Riding, aged 7, who immigrated to America from Oswaldtwistle, England, in 1911
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Riding migration to Australia +

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

Riding Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Riding, British Convict who was convicted in Preston, Lancashire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Asiatic" on 26th May 1843, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) 10

New Zealand Riding 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:

Riding Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Richard Riding, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1842 11

Contemporary Notables of the name Riding (post 1700) +

  • Laura Riding (1901-1991), American poet
  • Sam P. Riding, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Oklahoma, 1916 12
  • Joanna Riding (b. 1967), award-winning English actress
  • Air Marshal Douglas John Stuart Riding AO, DFC (b. 1943), retired senior Royal Australian Air Force commander and a former Vice Chief of the Defence Force

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Walter K Riding (b. 1922), English Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Kennington, London, England, who sailed into battle and died in the HMS Hood sinking 13

The Riding Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Dieu defende la droit
Motto Translation: God defends the right.

  1. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  3. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. Rye, Walter, A History of Norfolk. London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, 1885. Print
  7. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  8. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  9. 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)
  10. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from
  11. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 7th November 2010). Retrieved from
  12. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 24) . Retrieved from
  13. H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from on Facebook