This is a transcription of the Clan Riddell Essay at electricscotland.com, source at bottom.
Variants, Ridall, Riddel, Riddal, Riddle, Ridel . A locality name meaning, 'of Riddell' in the parish of Lillieleaf, Co.Roxburghshire, a clan name of great antiquity. This name is of Scottish descent and is found in many ancient manuscripts in England . Examples of such are a William Ridell and Mary Simpson who were married at the church of St.George, Hanover Square, in the year 1761 and a James Riddle and Mary Humphry were also married at the same church, in the year 1768.Names were recorded in these ancient documents to make it easier for their overlords to collect taxes and to keep a record of the population at any given time.When the overlords acquired lands by either force or as gifts from their rulers, they created charters of ownership for themselves and their vassals. Other examples of this name were found in the person of a Samuel Harper and Helen Riddell who were married at the above church, St.George, Hanover Square, in the year 1770.
Thanks to Danny for the following information...
One theory for the origin of this name suggests that a family from Gascony may have come to Scotland via Ryedale in Yorkshire. It is much more likely, however, that the name is of Norman origin. Gervase Ridale was a witness to a charter of David I in 1116, and his son, Walter, received a charter of the lands of Lilliesleaf in roxburghshire. One of his nephews was hostage for William the Lion who had been taken prisoner by the English at the Battle of Alnwick in 1174. Riddells also acquired Swinburn in Northumberland. The lands were subsequently erected into a barony of Riddell. Sir William Riddell of Riddell swore fealty to Edward I of England for his lands in the Ragman Roll of 1296. Sir John Riddell was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia on 14 May 1628, and his lands were erected into the barony and regality of New Riddell. Sir John’s third son, William, was knighted by Charles I and later served in the wars in the Netherlands. The Reverend Archibald Riddell, the third son of the second Baronet, was a minister of the reformed church in Edinburgh who was persecuted and imprisoned because he would not renounce his Covenanter beliefs; unlike many others, however, he escaped with his life. Sir John Buchanan Riddell, MP for Selkirk, married in 1805 the eldest daughter of the Earl of Romney.In September 1998 the 13th Baronet, Sir John, was recognised by the Lord Lyon as Chief of the name.
John Riddel, a prominent seventeenth-century Edinburgh merchant, claimed descent from Galfridus de Ridel. He amassed great wealth from the trade across the Baltic, particularly with Poland, and he became a free burgess of Scotland’s capital. His son acquired extensive lands near Linlithgow. He is said to have intrigued with the forces of Oliver Cromwell, becoming a close friend of General Monck. He is credited with having persuaded the general to restore the ancient parish church of South Leith, which Cromwell had ordered to be used as a stable for his troopers. One of Edinburgh’s finest churches, it still bears some of the scars of the Parliamentarian troops’ occupation. Two generations later, this family acquired the extensive Argyll estate of Ardnamurchan and Sunart. Sir James Riddell, first Baronet of Ardnamurchan, received his title in September 1778. He was superintendent general to the Society of British Fishery and a Fellow of the Society of Arts and Sciences. Sir Rodney Riddell, the fourth and last Baronet, was a distinguished professional soldier who campaigned in New Zealand and during the Afghan War of 1878 to 1880. He died in 1907 and the title became extinct. In 1920, Sir George Riddell of Duns, a prominent newspaper proprietor who had represented the British press at the Versailles peace conference of 1919 was raised to the peerage as Baron Riddell.
Origin and Changes Of The Riddell Surname
The following is a slightly edited extract from the book Some More Riddles Of North Carolina by Richard Riddle.
Ridlon (G.T. Ridlon's History of the Ancient Ryedales and Their Descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, From 860 to 1884) states that the surname Riddle appears on the pages of the Doomsday Book and in a variety of forms, such as Ridle, Ridel, and Ridell. We must look to Norway or Normandy for the origin of the name.
The name Riddle is a local type name (makes reference to a locality or territory) from an area in Scandinavia called Rugdal or Ryedale, the valley of rye. Other Riddle historians have postulated that as the name changed from Ryedale and Riddell to Riddle, as it is pronounced by the Scots, it has not lost any of the original meaning. A riddle was an instrument by which rye and other grains were winnowed and cleansed and the change to Ridler and Riddler denotes one who winnows grain with a riddle or sieve.
When the Riddles began lending their name to the land and estates they owned is not precisely known. However it is known that Walter de Ridale received his lands from David I, King of Scotland between 1124 and 1153 and these lands were called "Baronies of Riddell and Whitton." The family branches have followed the early custom of bestowing their names upon their lands whenever and wherever acquired. In Scotland there is a Cranstown-Riddell, Glen-Riddle, Mount-Riddell and Minto-Riddell.
In the United States we find Glen Riddle, Riddle's Banks, Riddle's Station, Riddleton, and Riddle's Crossroads. The surname used by the Riddells of Roxburghshire, Scotland was originally derived from a locale known as Ryedale and their coats-of-arms consists of three ears of rye and sheaves of grain. Nearly all branches of the Scottish families have spelled their name Riddell, however many old documents spell the name as Riddle. Many small family branches in Scotland and England who claim descent from the Ryedale spell their own name Riddle.
The migration of the original Norman family throughout the world has created over 60 different ways the name has been spelled. The following is a small selected list of examples:
READLAN, REDLAN, RHUDDLAN, RIDAL, RIDALE, RIDDALL, RIDDEL, RIDDELL, RIDDELLE, RIDDELS, RIDDLE, RIDDLETON, RIDDLEY, RIDEL, RIDELEIGH, RIDELL, RIDEY, RIDLAND, RIDLE, RIDLER, RIDLEY, RIDLON, RILLY, RUDDELL, RUDDLE, RUGDAL, RYDDLAND, RYDLEY, RYEDALE
For those interested in the book, History of the Ancient Ryedales & Their Descendants in Normandy, Gt. Britain, Ireland & America, 860-1914, comprising the family of Riddell, Riddle, Ridlon, Ridley, etc., by G.T. Ridlon, it can be ordered from Higginson Books. They also carry The Descendants of Edward Riddle (1758-1826) and Margaret McMillan (c.1769-c.1825) by Joan Riddle Giles.
The Ancient History of the Distinguished Surname Riddell
The chronicles of England, though sometimes shrouded by the mists of time, reveal the early records of the name Riddell as a Norman surname, which ranks as one of the oldest. The history of the name is interwoven into the colourful fabric as an intrinsic part of the history of Britain.
Careful research by professional analysts using such ancient manuscripts as the Domesday Book (compiled in 1086 by William the Conqueror), the Ragman Rolls, the Wace poem, the Honour Roll of the Battel Abbey, The Curia Regis, Pipe Rolls, the Falaise Roll, tax records, baptismals, family genealogies, and local parish and church records, shows the first record of the name Riddell was found in Northumberland where they were seated from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord ,for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. Many alternate spellings of the name were found. They were typically linked to a common root, usually one of the Norman nobles at the Battle of Hastings. Your name, Riddell occurred in many references, and from time to time, the surname included the spellings of Riddell, Riddle, Riddall, Riddells, Ridel and many more. Scribes recorded and spelled the name as it sounded. It was not unlikely that a person would be born with one spelling, married with another, and buried with a headstone, which showed another. All three spellings related to the same person. Sometimes preferences for different spelling variations either came from a division of the family, or had religious reasons, or sometimes patriotic reasons. The family name Riddell is believed to be descended originally from the Norman race. They were commonly believed to be of French origin but were, more accurately, of Viking origin. The Vikings landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland about the year 870 A.D., under their Chief, Stirgud the Stout. Later under their Jarl, Thorfinn Rollo, they invaded France about 940 A.D. The French King, Charles the Simple, after Rollo laid siege to Paris, finally conceded defeat and granted northern France to Rollo. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy, the territory of the North Men. Duke William, who invaded and defeated England in 1066,was descended from the first Duke Rollo of Normandy. Duke William took a census of most of England.
THE HOUSE OF RIDDELL
I proceed to give a brief account of the Riddells of that ilk and their branches, a house of even greater antiquity than those of Douglas, Scott, and Kerr, though not so historically eminent. They seldom mixed themselves up with the contentions and forays of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and until covenanting times they were not very publicly known, though at that period two members of the family were noted for their defence of civil and religious liberty. I shall first mention the rise of the Riddells in this country. They sprung from MONSIEUR RIDEL, who was a companion of William the Conqueror, and whose name appears with many other chieftains on the roll of Battel Abbey-the earliest record of the Normans-a table containing the names at one time suspended in the abbey with the following inscription, viz. :-
“ Dicitur a bello, bellum locus hic, quis bello Angligenae victi, sunt hic
in morte relictis, Martyris in Christi festo cecidere Colixti, Sexagenus
erat sextus millessimus annus Cum pereunt Angli, stella monstrante cometa.”
Battel Abbey, which is a memorial of one of the greatest achievements in English history, was built on the extensive plain of Heathfield, a little to the north of Hastings, in fulfillment of a pledge given by the great Norman, prior to the battle which gained for him the crown of England. William had been named by Edward the Confessor, the last of the Saxon line, his successor, though Edgar Atheling was the next legitimate heir, and Harold had usurped the throne. But the battle of Hastings settled the point, and William, who there defeated Harold, was made king, having been crowned at Westminster in little more than two months after his arrival in England. In Normandy the Riddells were a family of note, some members having joined a party of their fellow-countrymen-a most extraordinary and chivalrous people-who invaded Italy and eventually Sicily. Of these doubtless were Goffridus and Regnaldus Ridel, brothers-the first of whom figured there so very anciently as Duke of Gaeta in 1072, and the latter as Count de Ponte Carvo in 1093. Goffridus was a common Christian name in various families of Ridel in these early times, and the surname is precisely the same, the second d and the second l being additions in after times. My late kinsman, John Riddell, the best antiquary that Scotland has had for many a day, found from Norman records proof of the existence of Gulfridus and Roger Riddell, posessors of estates in Normandy towards the end of the thirteenth century; and also two great stocks of the name in France, classed among its magnates there, being well allied, and designed of Baijerae in the thirteenth century, terminating in an heir-female. William bestowed on his Riddell follower considerable landed property in England, and his descendants became celebrated, and one or two of them held high official appointments. An alliance by marriage was formed between them and the Bassits, a very old English family, lately represented by my old friend, John Bassit of Tohidy, who used at one time to come to Tweedside, where he rented Lord Polwarth’s fishing water. One of the English Riddells married Geva, the daughter of the Earl of Chester, one of whose descendants was Maud or Matilda, wife of David, Earl of Huntingdon, a maternal ancestrix of the Bruce. Although the family were so prosperous in England some of its members emigrated to Scotland early in the twelth century with David I, when Prince of Cumberland, who was a great colonizer. Gervasius was the elder, and he was a great favourite of the prince, who appointed him in 1116 High Sheriff of Roxburghshire-the earliest on record. He must have been a constant attendant on royalty, for he is a frequent witness to crown charters, and especially to that celebrated commission for enquiring into the revenues of the Church of Glasgow in 1116, one of the most ancient Scotch records. Gervasius married and had family; a son Hugh is supposed to have been the ancestor of the Riddells of Cranston Riddell in Midlothian. His wife, Christiana de Soulis, was a donor to Jedburgh monastery, and Gervasius when advanced in life, assumed the ecclesiastical garb, and died at Jedburgh in the odour of sanctity. This was in accordance with a prevailing custom, namely, that those who had led a secular, and often a licentious and sinful life, sought to atone for the past by dying in a monastery. This was a practice followed by many whose lifes had been peaceful and blameless. So great in these days was the reverence for religion, although a religion tainted with error. Walter Ridel accompanied Gervasius in the suite of Prince David, and though younger doubtless, was not Gervasius’s son, as some writers erroneously say. He was probably a brother or near relative. Like his kinsman, Walter enjoyed the friendship and patronage of Royalty. He too was also a witness to crown and other charters of importance, but that to himself from David I, of the lands of Wester-Lilliesleaf, &c., eclipsed them all, being the most ancient charter from a King to a Layman. The charter, which was dated between 1125 and 1153 included Whittun near the Cheviots, the lands to be held of the crown “ per servitium unius militis sicut unus baronum meorum vicinorum suorum,” &c. This ancient document became so frail that it was “ legally “ copied at Jedburgh about three hundred and seventy years ago, and the lands granted by it continued in the family for upwards of six hundred years without an entail, a fact highly honourable to all members through whom they were handed down. Nisbet, the antiquary and herald, who flourished early last century, drew the copy. Besides this ancient charter, there was a bull from the Pope Adrian IV., nearly as old, confirming the properties vested in Walter to his brother and heir AUSKITTEL, Walter having no issue. The bull must have been granted between 1154 and 1159, when Adrian was Pope, but the precise date is not given. Indeed in ancient Bulls the year was sedom mentioned. It runs: - “ Adrianus Episcopus, servus servorum Dei, Auskittel Riddell militi, salutem et Apostolicum Benedictionem, sub Beati Petri et nostri protectione suscepimus specialiter ea quae Walterus de Riddell testamentum suum ante obitum suum faciens tibi nosciter reliquisse, viz., villas de Wituness, Lilisclive, Braehebe, et cetera bona a quibuscunque tibi juste colate, nos authoritate sedis Apostolicae integre confirmamus. Datum Beneventi Septimo ides Aprilis.” There is another Bull from the Pope who succeeded Adrian to the same Sir Auskittel, and both documents, along with that formerly mentioned, were seen by Mr Nisbet. The third laird was Walter, son of Sir Auskittel, which is proved by the las named Bull. He married and had two sons, one of whom was Patrick, his heir, and Ralph, supposed to be the ancestor of the Northumberland Riddells, a highly respectable family of the Roman Catholic faith.* Patrick became the fourth Laird, and was knighted like his grandfather Sir Auskittel. Ater succeeding to his estates he made donations to the Abbey of Melrose, and to the monks serving God there. Sir Auskittel was a witness to a charter of confirmation granted to the monks of Kelso in 1159 by Malcolm lV., the grandson of David l. Sir Patrick’s son, Walter, the fith laird, succeeded him, and seems to have been a pious Churchman, for he not only confirmed his father’s donations to the convent of Melrose, but gave many benefactions himself, not only to the monks of melrose, but to those of Kelso. His mother, Margaret De Vesci, also confirmed her husband, Sir Patrick Riddell’s donations to Melrose. Miss De Vesci was, I believe, of the then Border family of whom was among the number of the feudal lords appointed to enforce the observance of Magna Charta and who married a daughter of William the lion, King of Scotland, brother of Malcolm the IVth., so surnamed from having introduced the lion as the armorial bearing of scotland, and from this emblem the head of the Heralds’ Office in Edinburgh is called “ Lion King at Arms.” Walter, the fifth laird, now before us, had a brother William, who got part of Whittun on his marriage with Matilda Corbett, probably of the Makerstoun family of that name, very ancient proprietors, but it returned to the head of the family, as they had no issue. Walter having left two sons, William and Patrick, the former succeeded, viz., William, who, like his grandfather, had the honour of knighthood conferred upon him. He was the six laird. William’s succession is proved by a charter to Melrose Abbey, by which it appears there was a donation to the convent by Isabella: -” Uxor Wilhelmi de Riddell de alia bovata terrae in territorio de Whittun quam pater meus Wilhelmus, parsona de Hunam, emit a Ganfredo Coco”-the deed being made “pro salute animae Domini Patricii de Riddell, and Walter, filii ejus, et Wilhelmi, sponsi mei.”* Five members of the family, which proves four successive descents, witness it. I pass over some of the next lairds, as I hardly know how to place them, antiquaries having misstated and miscalled several; but there are two before Quintin, next to be taken up, respecting whom and his successors who follow there is no doubt. The two I refer to were clearly before Quintin’s time, and were named Richard and Sir Robert, both of whom are proved by documents in the charter chest at Fleurs. Richard was a witness to two charters to John Ker of Auldtounburn, dated respectively in 1357 and 1358. This John Ker came from the forest of Selkirk, and was the first ancestor of the Cessford or ducal family of Roxburgh, who aquired land in roxburghshire. Sir robert riddell, on the other hand, was a witness to a charter to kelso abbey of land in Mow, and was cautioner for Mowe of mains, who was a hostage in england on account of border disturbances. While these charters throw light upon two Riddell ancestors well down their tree, the first to John Ker of Auldtounburn indicates the planting of the roxburgh tree at a much later period. Quentin, now to be noticed, is a new name in the family, and from whence derived I have not been able to make out, though a name of a saint in the Roman calender. He was the first designed of that ilk or de eodum, as far as the charters extant shows. He was assuredly in possion in 1421, when a court of inquisition was held, and the Lilliesleaf lands were then called Riddell, though even after that date Lilliesleaf, no doubt an old and favourite name, crops up sometimes. Their own surname, however, had been regularly and officially given to the Lilliesleaf property (Whitton continuing as originally), deriving the baronial character from the tenure of the first charter by David I. to Walter, and hence the origin of the local name Riddell, as denoting an estate, that previously was not Scotch or known in Scotland. The distinguished knightly and baronial family of Riddell of Cranston Riddell, with the later adjunct was the first, and at a far earlier date designed of riddell, similarly giving their name to their barony, which likewise held of the crown, as the descendants of Hugh, supposed to be the son of the sheriff, Gervasius riddell. This gave them an earlier position than the Lilliesleaf Riddells; but in little more than two centuries their male line became extinct, and the heir of the las proprietor, Isabella Rydel, dead in 1357, was a john murray. Quintin was followed by his son, whose name is not given; but his grandson, who inherited, was James, who was indisputably laird of riddell and whittun in 1493, and had a brother Thomas, who is particularly mentioned, and a son John, who succeeded his father in 1510. He had two sisters, both of whom married Scotts. There had been a previous marriage with the Scotts, as the widow of one of the Riddells, supposed to be a Ker of Fernilie, married a Harden. John granted a precept for infefting Patrick Earl Bothwell in a part of some lands at Lilliesleaf in 1534, which he held of the laird of Riddell. John died in 1542, and was followed by George. This George is particularly mentioned in a legal transaction upon record affecting him, and left Walter, his successor, who married mariotte, daughter of Hoppringle of smailholm, and had a son, Andrew, and two daughters, one of whom married Thomas Ker of Cavers and nether Howden. Walter was old when he died, and his son Andrew was served heir in 1592, obtaining a charter in 1595. Andrew was a man of much importance, and having acquired Haining from the Scotts, the first possessors of it, held large territorial possessions, and was called the Baron of Riddell. Though lordly in his position, he was a man of humility, for he was offered a baronetcy, which he declined. He did not, however, prevent his eldest son, John, who was a person of considerable talent, accepting the honour, which was conferred on the 14th of May 1628, about three years after the institution of the order in Scotland. Andrew must have married first his cousin, Miss Pringle, daughter of James Pringle of Gallowshiells and Smailholm, and after her death he was united to Violet Douglas of Pumpherston, West-Lothian. He had a large family of sons and daughters his eldest son, Sir John, being by his first wife. Other sons and some time ago i found a stone in the Abbey burying-ground at Jedburgh in memory of Jean Riddell, daughter of Andrew, born 1600, and died 1660. She is commemorated thus-
“ Here lies a religious and virtuous gentlewoman, Jean Riddell, daughter of Sir Andrew Riddell of that ilk, who died in the year of God, MDCLX., and of her age 60.
She lived a holy life,
To Christ resigned her breath.
Her soul is now with God,
Triumphing over death !”
Andrew had, by Violet Douglas, his second wife, a favourite son called Andrew, on whom he settled Haining, which continued in this branch of the family till early last century, when it was sold to the second son of Pringle of Clifton. Andrew of Haining married a Stewart of Traquair, and dying young, his widow married secondly Sir Willian Douglas, ancestor of the Marquis of Queensberry. His son and successor, John Riddell of Haining, was Sheriff Principal, and M.P. for Selkirkshire, and his grand-daughter, Magdalene Riddell, who married David Erskine of Dun, after succeeding to Haining, sold it, and the marquis of Ailsa, as the heir of the Erskines, now represents the Riddell’s of Haining. But to return to Andrew, the Baron of Riddell, I would state that his tombstone in the aisle of Riddell gives his death in 1632, at the age of eighty-two. His second wife erected an additional stone to his memory, and there is also a stone to the memory of Andrew Haining, whose life was “short but good,” and with the exception of a more ancient stone, with a recommendation to pray for the soul, though no name is to be seen, there is no other memorial in the old aisle, which was once the choir of the ancient church, superseded by the present in 1771, over a century ago. One of Andrew’s other sons was ancestor of the Riddells of Muselee. His daughters married respectively Rutherford of Edgerston; Robert Ker, brother of Sir Thomas of Cavers; John Baillie, ancestor, I believe, of the Baillies of Mellerstain; and Sir John Scott of Goldielands, while the pious Jean, already commemorated, lived in single blessedness. Sir John, first Baronet of Riddell, married Miss Murray of Blackbarony, which brought the family further high connections, and had four sons and one daughter. Three of his sons went abroad, two were captains in the Dutch service, while another, William, a youth of great spirit, was knighted at an early age, and was appointed Governor of Desborough, in Holland. His only daughter, by his wife, Miss Murray, married Sir Thomas Ker of Cavers, and by a second wife, the widow of the Honourable James Douglas, Commendator of Melrose Abbey, Sir John Riddell had another daughter. He was succeeded in 1636 by his eldest son, Sir Walter, who was knighted, like one of his younger brothers, in his father’s lifetime. He married a very pious woman, Janet Rigg, the daughter of a worthy and godly man, William Rigg of Aithernie, Fife, by whom he had five sons and two daughters. Janet Rigg, Lady Riddell, was not only pious but accomplished, and her father was a man of high principle and character, and moreover, extremely wealthy. Mr Rigg was fined £50,000 Scots for opposing the introduction of the five articles at Perth, by James VI, and also suffered imprisonment in Blackness Castle. His sister, the aunt of Lady Riddell, Miss Catherine Rigg, who married Douglas of Cavers, was the celebrated Covenanter, and the ladies were descendants of Dr John Row of Perth, John Knox’s coadjutor. Two of Sir Walter’s younger sons were ancestors of the Riddells of Glenriddell and Granton severally, respecting whom I shall have a good deal to say-especially about the latter-afterwards. His daughters married respectively a brother of Sir William Scott of Mertoun, and son of Auld Wat, the freebooter of Harden, and the Rev. Gabriel Semple of Jedburgh, a zealous Covenanter and field preacher at one time. His eldest son, John as third Baronet. He is called in the family Sir John Bluebeard, because he had four wives, not of course at once, like Brigham Young. His wives were-1st, Miss Scott of Harden; 2d, Miss Morrison, Prestongrange; 3d, Miss Swinton, Swinton; and fourth, Mrs Watt, formerly Miss Hepburn, married first to Mr Watt of Rosehill, and after his decease, to Sir John Riddell. Sir John, inheriting his mother’s religious zeal, became a zealous Covenanter, and suffered imprisonment for his defence of civil and religious liberty, and his nonconformity. He sat in several parliaments for the county of Roxburgh. He got a remission from the king in 1687, and he died in 1700, a very short time after his fourth marriage. His son, Sir Walter, succeeded; from whom I directly descend. He married Miss Watt of Rosehill, a daughter of his stepmother, and had several sons and daughters. His eldest son, John, who predeceased him, was an advocate, very clever and highly accomplished. His second son, Walter, succeeded. His third was Thomas of Camieston. His sixth, Robert, was minister of Lilliesleaf from 1736 to 1760, and married his relative, one of the Granton Riddells. His only daughter, Jane, married John Carre of Cavers. Sir Walter was a very godly man, the piety of his grandmother and father having been imbibed by him. He did some eccentric things, however. When his son was preaching he is said to have stopped him, when, as Sir Walter thought, he was not stating the terms of the gospel correctly, or at any rate saying something which he disapproved of, telling him, “ Robert, that won’t do.” He was recommended to stop so many people coming upon his property, but his answer was, “the earth is the Lord’s.” In his time the public road passed close to the back of Riddell House, and I daresay its nearness to the kind-hearted Baronet’s mansion induced a good many “seekers,” as beggars in his time were called, to visit him. His eldest son John, having predeceased him, his second son, Walter, inherited, and became fifth Baronet. He was in early life a merchant at Eyemouth, probably a dealer in fish and spirits, brandy being in no doubt largely imported there and married a daughter of Mr Turnbull of Houndwood, near Eyemouth. It was a runaway marriage, but the lady had neither money nor rank. The rank was on his side, though from his being a trader at Eyemouth, the Turnbulls might have looked down upon him then. Sir Walter Riddells eldest son, Walter, died about ten years before his father. His second succeeded him, while two of his younger sons were respectively a soldier and a sailor, James, a Lieutenant-colonel in the Dutch service, and Thomas of Bessborough, a captain in the naval service of the late east India company. General Henry James Riddell, Knight of Hanover, and commander of the forces in Scotland, who died a few years ago, was the latter’s son. John succeeded as sixth Baronet. Being second son he was shipped off to Curacoa, where he was a merchant, but coming home before his father’s death, married Miss Buchanan, eventually an heiress, but he only survived his succession to Riddell about three years. He left three sons-the youngest of whom was the late sir John, who was posthumous. All three sons were Baronets in turn. The eldest, Sir Walter, a delicate youth, died just about the time of his majority. The second, Sir James, who was a lieutenant in one of the guards, was drowned while bathing in the river Brunswick, aged nineteen, and the third, who finally inherited, was the late, Sir John, ninth Baronet, known to many still alive. He was a man of the most polished manners, and had a commanding address. He was a precocious agriculturalist-far too much so for his time, and his experiments, successful as regards the ultimate improvement of the property, ended in his ruin, and entailed distress upon many of his dependants and others. But in spite of his being the cause of loss to many families, his name is still respected. Sir john Buchanan Riddell, who was member of parliament for the Selkirk Burghs, died in April 1819, aged fifty-one, leaving by his wife, Lady Frances Riddell, daughter of the Earl of Romney, three sons and five daughters, a son having been born some months after his death.
SOME CADETS OF THE OLD RIDDELL STOCK
The first is the MUSELEE branch who claim to be, and are descended from a son of Andrew, the powerful baron and father of the first baronet of Riddell. That son or ancestor obtained a charter of Muselee in 1618, and a descendant acquired BEWLIE, and both properties continue in the family, in the female line, being represented by Captain Hutton Riddell, whose father, Mr Hutton, a banker at Newark-on-Trent, married the niece and heiress of the last Riddell proprietor, viz., Charles Riddell, long Chamberlain to the duke of Buccleuch, and Branxholm, who died unmarried, 11th December 1849, aged ninety-five, or thereabouts. The third Riddell of Muselee married Miss Eliott, a connexion of the Eliotts of Borthwickbrae, and their fourth grandson, William, was ancestor of the Riddells of Berwick, respectable and successful merchants there, and connected by marriage with the Curries, also merchants at Berwick, the ancestors of the large London banking and Mercantile families, who have been so successful, and whose descendants occupy so many prominent positions in life, and are connected with the Lefevres, now represented by Viscount Eversly, late speaker of the house of commons. One of the Berwickshire Riddells-the Rev. Thomas Riddell, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge-was a good scholar, and a hard working London curate for several years, at St Andrews, Holborn, a very large parish, and of which the duke of Buccleuch is patron, but latterly he held a college Living at Masham, Yorkshire, where he died in middle life. The Glenriddell family and the Riddells of Granton come next. They descended from two brothers, sons of the second Baronet of Riddell. Glenriddell is in Dumfries-shire, but the first male occupants of it soon died out, and a daughter of the last heiress, who married Walter Riddell of Newhouse in Lilliesleaf, the son of the Rev. Simon Riddell, minister of Tynron, who married Miss Riddell of Newhouse-the heiress, I presume, of that place-carried Glenriddell to her husband, though some of the younger branches of the old Glenriddell males and families, and are now represented by a young gallant soldier. The Rev. Simon Riddell, whose original pedigree I do not at present know, was a man of some note. In 1715 he marched to Stirling with a portion of his parishioners, in defence of His Majesty and the Protestant interest, and in 1740 he was one of the fifteen ministers deposing the eight seceders, of whom were Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine. Mr Simon Riddell’s son, Walter Riddell, acquiring Glenriddell through his wife, seems to have enjoyed it many years, being followed by his son, Robert, who was a most accomplished man, as well as a good antiquary. He was a great friend of the poet, Robert Burns, and was present at the celebrated convivial celebrations connected with “the Whistle,” as the following lines by the great bard imply:
“Three joyous good fellows, with hearts clear of flaw,
Craigdarroch, so famous for wit, worth, and law,
And trusty Glenriddell, so skilled in old coins,
And gallant Sir Robert, deep read in old wines.”
The three were-Glenriddell; Fergusson of Craigdarroch; and Sir Robert Laurie. They were all connected. Fergusson was the hero of “the Whistle,” having got through five bottles of claret at the sitting. The Granton Riddells are next in order. Their chief, Archibald, third son of sir Walter, second Baronet of Riddell, was ordained to the ministry, and, like his brother, Sir John, was a strenuous Covenanter, preaching in the fields, but neither of these committed any treasonable acts, and yet they both suffered imprisonment. Archibald was very severely dealt with. He was imprisoned in Jedburgh, then in Edinburgh, and afterwards at the Bass. After a long incarceration, he was set free on a promise that he would go to America, which he did in 1684, remaining there till the Revolution, when he returned, but on his voyage home, the vessel he came in was captured by a French man-of-war, and Mr Riddell was again a prisoner. He was carried to Nantes, then to Rochefort, where he was placed in a common jail, with about two hundred prisoners, English and Dutch, and they were almost all sent to Toulon. They were chained two and two by the arm. Mr Riddell was chained to his son, a boy of ten years of age, for whom they were at pains to make three different chains, before they got one small enough for the lad’s wrist. After this long and wearisome journey, and their detention at Toulon, during which there were several deaths, they were sent back to Rochefort, and afterwards to Douai, near to St Malo, where Mr Riddell continued more than a year in a vault of an old castle, with some hundreds of other prisoners. They lay on straw, never changed save once a month, and were oppressed with many disagreeables. It must have required great fortitude on the part of my kinsman and his son to have endured and survived such misery. But after twenty-two months, an author states: “Mr Riddell and his son were exchanged for two Popish priests, as proved by a royal letter to the Privy Council:
“ Whereas we are informed that Mr Archibald Riddell, minister of the gospel, and James Sinclair of Freshwick, are prisoners in France, and are very hardly used, whom we resolve to have released by exchange with two priests now prisoners in Scotland, therefore we require you to call for the friends and nearest relatives of the said Archibald Riddell, and James Sinclair, and signify our royal pleasure to them, in exchange of these two prisoners with the two priests, that shall be condescended upon, and authorise them not only to ‘speik’ with the two priests, but also to write to France anent the negotiating their friends’ liberty, and that you cause the two priests to be condescended upon, to be securely keeped, and make intimation to them that they shall be used in the same way and manner as the French King uses the said Scots prisoners, which they may be ordered to aquaint their friends in France with, that the exchange may be the more easily effected. For doing of which these presents shall be your warrant, and so we bid you heartily farewell. Given at our Court at Kensington, the 16th day of January 1689/90, and of our Reigne the first year. By his Majesty’s command, here directed to the Privy Council of Scotland.” Archibald Riddell’s trials being now ended, he past the rest of his life in peace and security. Indeed, as Wodrow states, when he returned all his losses were made up, and he and his four children (for his wife died on the passage to America), were in better circumstances than if he had conformed, to which he had been instigated. He was appointed minister of Trinity College Church, that fine old church built by Mary of Guelders, now removed to make way for the North British Railway Station, but the stones are preserved to rebuild with, when a decision is to come. Mr Riddell died in 1708, and left a great reputation behind him. Dr Hew Scott says, “he was a singularly pious and laborious servant of Jesus Christ.” He left two sons, Walter and John-the former a most distinguished naval officer, and the latter a physician in Edinburgh. Captain Walter Riddell’s conduct and bravery as a naval officer is noticed in a history of Europe, 1709, and he is also proved to distinguished himself in captures of vessels and in opposing the rebels in 1715, stimulated, no doubt, by the treatment shown to his father in the reign of James II., as I have shown. I am not sure which of the two sons was chained to his father in the French prison, but I apprehend it was the elder, the naval officer, who, by the way, acquired the barony of West Granton, near Edinburgh. The Granton Riddells were connected to the Dundas, Barts. of Beechwood, and the Nesbitts, Barts. Of Dean, the latter old family having come impoverished, and indeed extinct in the male line, and the fine old place of Dean was sold to the late Mr Learmonth, a celebrated coachbuilder in Edinburgh, and once Lord Provost. The Granton Riddells are now represented by the Rev. James Riddell, of Balliol College, the father of the much lamented James Riddell, a fellow of the same college, and one of the best Greek scholars at Oxford in his time, whose early death has been much mourned. I cannot, in justice to the memory of my lamented kinsman, pass on without further reference to his character and scholarship, which I can hardly find, terms adequately to describe. His boyhood even was uncommon, and when at Shrewsbury School he was a favourite pupil of the master, Dr Kennedy, and he there obtained the highest honour, which was the Sydney Gold Medal. From Shrewsbury James Riddell was elected at the head of thirty candidates from the first schools in England to a scholarship of Balliol College, Oxford, in November 1841, being then eighteen. As an undergraduate he was beloved both by his seniors and cotemporaries for gentleness of manner and great amiability of disposition, and the heads of the college considered him one of the best and most promising scholars that Balliol ever reared. Having obtained a first class in classics, he took his degree, and was made a Fellow of his college, taking holy orders. Shortly after, he was appointed one of the tutors, and in this sphere he was much respected by his many pupils. He was also made a public examiner, and in addition held other honourable appointments connected to the university, including a seat at the Hebdomadal Council, the governing body. He was also for one year a select preacher at St Mary’s, and in 1864 was appointed one of the Whitehall preachers, both positions being alike honourable. About the middle of the year 1866 his health, never very robust, and perhaps unfavourably acted upon by intense application to study for so many years, gave way, and alarming symptoms suddenly appeared, which ended in his death on the 14th of September of that year, at the temporary residence of his family at Tunbridge Wells, where his remains were interred. I said at the commencement that Mr Riddell was one of the best Grecians of his time at Oxford, the great seat of classical learning, and the “Reliquiae Metricae,” published by Messrs Parker, contains translations of Greek and Latin verses by my friend, showing the high rank he took in such compositions; and it is not a little singular that the last production of his pen should have been a Latin translation of Watts’ well-known hymm-
“ There is a land of pure delight, Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night, And pleasures banish pain;
There ever lasting spring abides, And never-with’ring flowers;
Death, like a narrow sea, divides, That heavenly land from ours.”
It was said of Mr Riddell, by one capable of judging, that he was admired and loved as the very model and ideal of a Christian scholar and gentleman in the University of Oxford, of which he was a chief ornament. And the Rev. Canon Liddon, in lately replying to my request for a sketch of his friend for this lecture, said that stress of work obliged him to decline; for even if he could feel at all sure that he could do his dear friend’s character anything like justice, it would require much more careful consideration than I took for granted; and to write about the holy dead, except with great care and conscientiousness, was to do them and others no little wrong. Canon Liddon adds:- “The salient features of his character-his courage, his purity, his tenderness, his delicate and far-reaching conscientiousness-were sufficiently obvious to all who knew him; but to show the relation of these virtues to his great intellectual life, and to mark the finer shades which would have to be distinguished, is, I fear, beyond anything that I could at present, if ever, attempt.” Three brothers of the Rev. James Riddell, senr., who still survives, have lately died in Scotland-John, Robert, and Henry-the latter minister of the Parish of Dunse, in Berwickshire. John was the celebrated genealogical scholar and antiquary, being without a rival in Scotland in his branch of law, though, being a kinsman, I shall not individually further sound his praises, but allow Lord Lindsay-now Earl Crawford-to speak in his behalf, by quoting from his lordship’s testimony to Mr Riddell’s great eminence:- “The genealogical knowledge, which gave weight and value to his (Mr Riddell’s) opinions, was vast and profound-the gathered stores of a life-time spent among public and private records, almost every principle charter-chest in Scotland having at one time or other passed under his review. But this vast knowledge would have been little serviceable towards the great purposes to which he devoted it had he not possessed that thorough familiarity with the law-feudal, consistorial, genealogical, and heraldic-and not of Scotland and England only, but of foreign nations, which determined the value and regulated the application of the facts ever present before his mental eye. It was from this lofty eminence of principle and precedent that he was enabled to survey the length and breadth of Scottish genealogical antiquity, assign its limits to undue family pretension, recall forgotten rights of representation to public recognition, and point out in many instances the means through which unsuspected or neglected hereditary honours might be legally claimed and vindicated. And it was from the full concurrent perception of the extent of the difficulty always attendant on such processes, more especially before the House of Lords, that, acting under the impulse of that honesty which is always allied with the love of truth, as well as in accordance with his chivalric sense of honour and his extreme disinterestedness on the point of professional remuneration, he carefully and distinctly, before engaging in such undertakings, pointed out the adverse considerations likely to attend upon them, whether through deficiency of evidence or irregular and fluctuating procedure in the tribunal where the claim must necessarily be prosecuted-anxious ever that his client should not commit himself to the pursuit without full warning of what it might entail upon him. But when once engaged in it he gave his whole soul to the object before him; and it was a beautiful and inspiring thing to witness the play of his thought during the evolution of his argument; the historical breadth of his views, and their ready convergence to the required focus, however minute and particular; his subtlety of legal discrimination; his fertility in illustration; his extraordinary readiness of resource; his untiring patience and industry in working out his results, contrasting with the eager impetuosity of utterance which accompanied their birth; and lastly, the genuine professional courage, springing again, as before, from his manly honesty and love of truth, with which he never evaded, but boldly faced and combated every difficulty. I speak (says Lord Lindsay, now Earl Crawford) to all this from my own experience during the prosecution of the minute and complicated peerage claims.” Again:- “I have seldom witnessed more touching examples of that beautiful humility which is generally the sister of mental strength and moral dignity than in Mr Riddell. His pride was far more in the frame of his great predecessors in the same studies, and in that of the historical families of Scotland, more especially those with whom he had become professionally related, than in his own reputation. He was as unselfish in that respect as he was disinterested (as I before incidentally remarked) in regard to the remuneration of his labours.” And again :- “Everything he wrote was stamped with the power bestowed with profound legal knowledge and a boundless command of facts; and his works will be continually resorted to as a store-house of information on matters of genealogy and peerage law by future generations.” Such are some of Earl Crawford’s views of Mr Riddell’s great professional requirements and character, and I need not further enlarge except to say that he had a strong affection for the ancient classic literature, but as the Latin epitaph on his tomb in Dean cemetery, of which I read a copy, refers to this, I say no more:- “ John Riddell, Esquire, advocate, a man imbued with the literature of every age, who, in antiquities, and especially that branch of them which relates to the origin of families, by recalling it to the truth of fact, was prodigal of labour, and, moreover, felicitous. This pursuit he illustrated by his writings, being an author of the greatest weight, as all admit. In this land, once the property of his ancestors, he was buried. Born 4th October 1785. Died 8th of February 1862. He lived seventy-six years.” I before alluded to the Dean (a portion of which property was sold to the cemetery company), having been the property of the Nisbetts, his ancestors, which accounts for what is stated in the epitaph. With reference to his brother, Robert Riddell, also an advocate and Sheriff-Substitute of Haddingtonshire, who died suddenly, not long after his brother John’s death, and the day after that of his elder brother, the Rev Henry Riddell, minister of Dunse. He possessed considerable professional acquirements, and made a most efficient magistrate, and combined with these qualifications no ordinary degree of literary attainments, especially in that department of law and research in which his brother John was so famous. As John said to me once, “he was tarred with the same brush.” The next branch to be sketched is the Camieston, its ancestor being Thomas, third son of Sir Walter, the fourth Baronet, for whom that property was acquired in his youth, being now possessed by his great-grandson, General William Riddell. Thomas married the youngest daughter of the Rev. William Hunter, minister of Lilliesleaf, and laird of Union Hall, which is part of the present Linthill property, Midlem Mill estate on which the present mansion-house stands having been acquired by Dr Hunter, the minister’s son, who conveyed it to his son, Colonel Edgar Hunter, a very popular country gentleman who was killed by a fall from his horse in the prime of life and unmarried. At his death, the succession went to his first cousin, William Riddell of Camieston-well-known to many still alive-whose father married one of Colonel Hunter’s sisters. The Hunters were well descended, and the minister was a singularly good and pious man. He was one of the supporters of the Marrow of Modern Divinity, which raised a controversy which lasted for sometime in the Church of Scotland, but without leading to the secession of any of the thirteen ministers who supported the marrow. There were three supporters of it in this neighbourhood besides Mr Hunter, viz, the Rev. Thomas Boston, the Rev. Gabriel Wilson of Maxton, and the Rev. Henry Davidson of Galashiels. I may add before leaving the Hunters, so intimately connected with the Camieston Riddells, that the eldest daughter of the Rev. William Hunter married the Rev. Adam Milne, minister and historian of Melrose, whose book about the antiquities of the abbey and parish is one of the best that has been written, and is the text-book of many subsequent historians. Mr Milne’s only child, a daughter, having died Linthill property passed to Mr Riddell, as the son of the younger sister. But that gentleman soon sold it, being a good deal embarrassed, when the late Mr Currie bought and entailed it. It may be worth noticing that Midlem Mill was formerly the property of the Elliots, a branch of the ancient house of Stobs, and that Gilbert Elliot, a younger son of the first Elliot of Midlem Mill founded the house of Minto, which was subsequently ennobled. Among the other members of the Camieston branch, entitled to be named, and also eulogised, was Robert the fourth son of the first laird, and grandson of Sir Walter, fourth Baronet, a lieutenant on board the Honourable East India Company’s ship, Duchess of Athol, which was burnt in 1783 in Madras Roads, a fire having broken out in the vessel. Robert Riddell was the officer in charge of the ship, the commander being on shore, and though all the crew were saved, and Riddell could have escaped also, he declined to leave the vessel, though death stared him in the face, and, of course, fell a sacrifice-a noble sacrifice to duty. His namesake nephew, my late uncle, Admiral Robert Riddell Carre, was a soldier also, and no smarter or more gallant officer ever trode a quarterdeck. He was at Copenhagen under the illustrious Nelson, and at Algiers under the brave Exmouth, and I possess his medal, recording both victories. And then the Admiral’s two nephews were officers in the East India Companies Service, Thomas and Robert, the latter the Admiral’s namesake, and following him as a sailor, having been in the Indian Navy. He was known, though young when he died, for his good qualities as a seamen, and what is still better, for being an earnest disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. The next branch I have to notice is that settled at Bermuda, in the West Indies, its chief being William, fourth son of the fourth Baronet, but it soon became extinct, though I am in possession of a medical thesis written by one of the family, which showed a desire to benefit community. The last branch to be noticed, and which has only lately died out is the Bessborough family, and in consequence of its extinction, the Camieston Riddells stand next to the main line, which still flourishes in England, though deprived of all their Scotch property. The Ancestor of the Bessborough family-in fact, their father-was Thomas, who also was a gallant soldier, and a captain in the Honourable East India Company’s Naval service, commanding the “ Bessborough,” in which ship he made money which he invested in land in Berwickshire, altering the name of the estate from Kaims to Bessborough, after the vessel he commanded. He married Elizabeth M’Lauchlan, of the Fassiefern family in Argyleshire, the aunt of my late wife, and by her he had five daughters and two sons, all of whom died unmarried. The two sons were soldiers, one of them, the late General Henry James Riddell, at one time commander of the forces in Scotland, already noticed. I have some information about descendants of the old house, who flourished in Ireland, as well as in America, but I cannot say when or how they came or how they came off the parent tree. The Irish Riddells settled in Ulster, and intermarried with the Morrisons, who were forced to leave Scotland for their adherence to the royal cause after the battle of Worcester. There were, not very long back, four Riddells, though they seem to have called themselves Riddall, brothers, two of them distinguished men-Sir James, who was knighted, and General William, who was a knight of Hanover-and formerly in the 62d 18th regiments of the British army. Strange to say, the four brothers died without issue, though one only was a bachelor. With respect to the American Riddells or Riddles, as they are so numerous, and their history is so replete with interest it would be quite impossible on the present occasion to do more than introduce them as a family, however derived, of importance, and well entitled to honourable mention. Having previously alluded to the Northumberland Riddells, I would here pay a tribute of respect to one of their number, who, though a Roman Catholic, as the family all are, was a most devout servant of God. The gentleman I mean was Dr Riddell, Roman Catholic Bishop of the Northern District of England, who died of typhus fever, caught at Newcastle in the performance of his duty, 1847, in attending and solacing the poor in the hour of sickness and suffering. I may also refer to the other Scotch family of Riddell raised to the baronetage in1778. They were originally connected with Edinburgh, but purchased a large property in Argyleshire, most of which has been sold. They at one time claimed descent from the Riddells of Riddell as set forth by Douglas, but finding the descent could not be proved or authenticated, they issued a new pedigree, which far eclipsed in grandeur the first descent they claimed, to the astonishment of a good many antiquarians who could not understand it. Before closing my remarks on the far-descended Riddells, I would for a few minutes draw your attention to their ancient seat:-
Ancient Riddells’ fair domain
Where Aill, from mountains freed,
Down from the lakes did raving come;
Each wave was crested with tawny foam
Like the mane of a chestnut steed.”
Sir Walter Scott Has a note in connection with first of the foregoing lines, highly complimentary to the ancient seat, though I must respectfully differ, however bold it may appear to do so, with the illustrious author of the “Lay of the Last Minstrel.” He endeavours to establish the family as being domiciled at Riddell long previous to the time they acquired it, though that period is quite far enough back, as you have heard, to show their antiquity, and to entitle the great minstrel to call them “ancient Riddell.” As I have told you they acquired the property under the designation of Wester-Lilliesleaf in the reign of David I., not long prior to 1153, and having held it till 1823, they were in possession for the lengthened period of six hundred and seventy years. It was not called Riddell for along time after their first occupancy, though they at length called it after themselves, an unusual occurrence in the history of landed families, who generally took their name from their lands instead of giving it to them. The earliest date mentioned by Sir Walter Scott is 727, and he alludes to the year on the aisle of Lilliesleaf church-yard, as being 1110. No doubt these memorials are to be seen on the south wall, but they do not possess a sufficiently antiquated character to represent such a far back period, though it is true they may have been fresh cut in aftertimes. But be that as it may, I cannot appropriate the date as attaching to my ancestors, as the first did not get possession for some years after. As moreover, there was an ancient church or chapel on the Wester Lilliesleaf or Riddell estate, said to have stood at or near the old Ash tree, not far from the last gate leading from the Easter-Lodge to the mansion-house, not a great way south from the old castle which stood in the wood a little above where the old Lillieleaf road to Selkirk passed. At what period the old castle, which probably was a place of great strength and security, was built it is quite impossible to say, but it is probable that the family erected it soon after acquiring the property in the twelfth century. It is also difficult to say when the present mansion superseded the old castle as a residence, though it gives evidence of great antiquity also. On the occasion of the present respected proprietor preparing for the addition he erected in the western side of the mansion, an old stone with the Riddell arms on one side of the shield, and what I suppose to be the Carre arms on the other, though the stars are not on a chevron according to the heraldic cognizance of that family. If I am right in the interpretation of the stone, I think I may state its date to be at the close of the fifteenth century, when a Riddell of Riddell married a Ker, who survived her husband, and afterwards married a Scott of Harden. The stone may therefore be nearly 400 years old, and besides it, an arch was discovered giving evidence of antiquity, as the walls also did, from their hardness, caused no doubt by hot lime having been used, as was frequently the case in olden times. With reference to the aisle in the churchyard which was not reserved when the estate was sold, but which was generously restored to the old family by the kindness of Mr Sprot, it is impossible to say when it was first used by the Riddells. No doubt they were buried on the property in early times, probably at the chapel, where bones have been known to have been dug up, but in process of time the aisle would no doubt be used, in fact when it was part of the old castle which stood till 1771, the year of the erection of the present one, having just completed its cemetery. I have evidence of the place of burial being in the choir of the old church, which I apprehend is just where the aisle now stands. Whether the church was the original one, I cannot say, but it was no doubt a pre-reformation one, and it was thatched with broom, as was the custom in mediaeval times.