I had heard that there are, or were, Huguenot Ridout families who had settled in the UK and my curiosity was piqued by visiting the Huguenot Society’s stand at the ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ family history show at Earl’s Court in London this February (2014). I decided to investigate two apparently French non-conformist families, each of which was made reference in the Society’s records.
The RIDOUTT family from the Isle of Wight
The entry above is taken from the Admission Register for the French Hospital in London (at that time, 1933, in Victoria Park, Hackney). From the hospital’s website is the following information: ‘Founded in 1718 as a charity for poor Huguenot refugees, today it provides accommodation for elderly people… applicants must be able to satisfy the directors they are of direct Huguenot or French Protestant descent.’
Phoebe Elizabeth CHICK alleged that her Ridoutt ancestor had fled to the Isle of Wight (presumably from France) on the 24th August 1572; the day of Le Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy (St Batholomew’s Day Massacre) in Paris as a result of which many Huguenots (French Protestants) came as refugees to settle in England, mainly London and Canterbury, where they founded their church (now in the Black Prince’s Chantry) in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral. Evidently Phoebe’s family had not settled in London or Canterbury but had travelled on to the Isle of Wight.
Phoebe was the daughter of John Chick and Ellen Ridoutt; she was born on the 13th October 1868 at Romsey Terrace in South Hackney in London’s East End and died on the 14th August 1938 (her death was registered at Rayleigh in Essex). In the 1871 census Phoebe was two years old, living at 17 Romsey Terrace; her father, John Chick, aged 29 years was an oilman master born in Clerkenwell. John’s wife Ellen was aged 30 years, born in Portsea (Island), Hampshire. The couple also had a son John Henry, aged 4 years.
Ellen Ridoutt, according to Phoebe, was the daughter of William Ridoutt (1805-1852). In the 1841 census, at West Saint James Street, Portsea I found William Ridoutt, aged 36 years, a bootmaker married to Phoebe; William married Phoebe ABSALOM on the 29th March 1829 at St Mary’s church in Portsea. They had several children: Phoebe (10), Mary (9), Frances (7) Naomi (5), George (3) and Ellen (1). In 1851, this same family, living at 23 St James’ Place in Portsea comprised: William aged 42 years (now a master bootmaker employing three men and women) and Phoebe (42 years) with Mary (19), Fanny (18), Naomi (16), George (12), Ellen (10), Caleb E (8), Sarah (7), Allice (5) and Miriam (2). Some of the children’s births can be found in the ‘Register of Births at the Baptist Chapel in Meeting House Alley, Portsea, Southampton, Hampshire.’ Ellen’s birth was on the 13th December 1829 in Portsea Town, to parents William and Phoebe.
Ellen Ridoutt and John Chick married on 18th March 1866 at St Mark’s, Myddleton Square in Clerkenwell. The bride’s father was said to be William Ridoutt, shoemaker. William was said by Phoebe Elizabeth to have been born in 1805 to Isaac but the census documents suggest that he was born between 1805 and 1809. One of Phoebe’s sisters Sarah married John CROUTER on the 3rd June 1832 and when the couple baptised their son William on the 5th July, the maternal grandparents are shown as Isaac and Mary. I think , therefore that William Ridoutt baptised son of Isaac and Mary Ridoutt on the 1st December 1807 at St Mary’s, Portsea is correct. William’s death was registered at Portsea Island during the first quarter of 1852.
Phoebe Elizabeth stated that her great grandfather Isaac was born in 1779 and died in 1871. The 1861 census for 41 Prince’s Street, Portsmouth shows Isaac Ridoutt, aged 81 years old living with his widowed daughter Jane WHITE and the same couple are, in 1861, living at the same address ‘supported by a son’; Isaac was born in Newchurch, Isle of Wight. There is a baptism for Isaac to Richard and Mary Ridoutt at Newchurch in 1780 but with no day or month recorded. Looking at other census documents, in 1841 Isaac was aged ~60 years and was a shoemaker, born in county; his wife Mary, also aged 60 years, was born in county. With the couple were daughters Elisabeth (30) and Jane (20). In 1851 the couple were living at 13 Alfred Terrace, Portsea and Isaac was a leather seller (currier). Isaac and Mary’s widowed daughter Jane White was living with them. On Ancestry.com website, a public family tree shows an image of the death certificate for Mary Ridoutt, on the 11th December 1853, wife of Isaac Ridoutt, cordwainer, living at 13 Alfred Terrace (matching the census entries). Mary’s maiden name may have been ASHLEY as there was a marriage record for the 25th December 1802 at Portsea to Isaac Ridout (note the single ‘t’).
Isaac Ridoutt, Phoebe Chick’s great grandfather, was one of seven children to Richard and Mary Ridoutt, according to an unsourced tree on the Ancestry.co.uk website. I can find no further trace of Richard and therefore it is impossible to say for certain that this was a Huguenot family, despite Phoebe Chick’s admission to the French Hospital. The available evidence, such as it is, shows that, at least in later years, the family may have worshipped as Baptists. I can find no instances in which family members used French first names in particular. However, the bottom line on Phoebe’s entry does say ‘Descent: RIDOULT family” which does suggest that this may have been the original French name of this clan.
The RIDOU family from Spitalfields
The area of Spitalfields, where the Ridou family lived in the 18th century, was strongly connected with French Calvinist Protestants or Huguenots as they were later called. The Edict of Nantes (1598) had allowed this religious group to live peaceably in an otherwise Catholic country, but the decree was revoked in 1685 as part of Louis XIV’s plan for the systematic elimination of this religious minority. The Huguenots fled to Britain, a Protestant country, where they were welcomed and valued as people skilled in industry, finance and the arts.
The earliest members of the Ridou (sometimes transcribed as Ridon) family appear to be Louis and his wife Phillis (neé RICHARD). Records of Spitalfields marriages (Foreign Church Register of Marriages at the Walloon and French Protestant Chapels on Threadneedle Street, and Spitalfields Hospital in London from 1707 to 1718) show this couple tied the knot on the 2nd September 1707. The groom, a native of Tours in France, was stated to be the son of Pierre Ridou and his wife Marie (nee JACOB) whilst the bride, ‘a native of Harlem’ was the daughter of Jean Richard and his wife Suzanne (neé MAUBALLE).
I know nothing of this family other than a handful of Ridou baptismal records from the French Protestant Church in Artillery Street, Spitalfields:
- 4th March 1711: Marie, daughter of Louis and ‘Fillie’ Ridou1 Godparents: Isaac Frumy & Marie Blondain
- 6th June 1714: Louis Estienne, son of Louis and ‘Filix’ Ridou (nee Richard)2
- 24th January 1725: Denis, son of Louis and Philis Ridou2
- 9th July 1727 (born 17th June) Marianne, daughter of Louis and Filie Ridon (nee Richard)3 Godparents: Charles Denor & Marianne Bisu
Interestingly when Denis was baptised the godparent’s names were given as Denis Ridou and Jeanne POIRIER. There were a number of baptisms for children possibly of this couple:
- 30th July 1727 (born 10th July 1727): Dennis, son of Denis and Anne Ridou4
- 9th January 1731/32 (born 23rd November 1731): Etienne Pierre son of Denis and Anne Judith Ridou4
- 24th December 1732: Abraham, son of Denis and Anne Ridou4
- 14th August 1743 (born 29th July 1743): Isaac, son of Denis and Anne Judith Ridou4
There was also a burial record showing that Louis Ridou was buried at Christchurch, Spitalfields on the 27th May 1744 but this might be an adult or a child as there were no other details given.
It is possible, although unproven, that Pierre and Marie Ridou had at least two sons, Louis and Denis; whether the parents moved to England with their boys I do not know. Unfortunately, I have not been able to trace the family forward to more modern times and possibly identify descendants from this clearly French Huguenot line.
1 Foreign Church Register of Baptisms at the French Protestant Chapel in St John Street, Spitalfields from 1687 to 1823
2 Foreign Church Register of Baptisms and Marriages at the French Protestant Chapel in St John Street, Spitalfields in London from 1713 to 1733
3 Foreign Church Register of Births and Baptisms at the London Walloon French Protestant Church on Threadneedle Street in the City of London from 1725 to 1829
4 Foreign Church Register of Baptisms and Marriages at the French Protestant Chapel in Artillery Street, Spitalfields in London from 1710 to 1745
These two families, whose surname may later have been written as Ridout or Rideout, appear to have documented French ancestry and were probably French Protestants, or Huguenots. However, there is no evidence to tie these individuals to any known Sherborne Ridout families, despite the often quoted Huguenot ancestry of John Ridout, son of George Ridout the baker!