Two Huguenot ‘Ridout’ families

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 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 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!

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Some notes on Robert SYMONDS’ will, 1668

I think that wills can sometimes be the most helpful documents in a family historian’s armamentarium.  Here is an example of milking every last drop of information from such a document.

Knowing that a possible ancestor of mine (John Ridout) married Mary Symonds on 20th September 1727, I decided to search for a Symonds family in Sherborne. I found a will for Robert Symonds, written on the 15t March 1667/68 which went to probate on the 30th June 1668. Below is a transcript of the will and some conclusions drawn with further research added:

“I Robert Symonds of Sherborne in the County of Dorsett yeoman… I give devise and bequeath unto my loveing wife Mary one Coppyhold Tenement which I now live in with the appurtenances thereunto belonging with one parcel of Land adjoining unto the Coppyhold tenement dureing her widowhood and to take with her after my decease all such goods or household stuffe as she brought with her before her marriage unto mee without trouble or molystacon of my executor here after named.

Item I give devise and bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth thirty pounds in money and thirty pounds more upon bound which Mary Avoake widow and William Avoake her sonne owe me. Also I give her my house called by the name of the Shipp in Castletown during the terme I have uppon it. Likewise I give her one Brasse pan and halfe the goods and household stuff which was late her grandmother Roe’s.

Item I give unto my daughter Katherine thirty pounds in money and halfe such goods as her mother Anne left at her decease and one Brasse pann.

Item I give unto my daughter Joane Thirty pounds in money and the bed with the Bolster and Rugg and Blanketts belonging which I now lye uponn and the other halfe parte of the goods which her mother left at her decease which shee brought unto mee at my marriage with her. Alsoe I give unto her one brasse pann.

Item I give unto my granchilde William Symonds Tenn Acres of Arable Land upon Lease Lyeing in severall fields in Sherborne.

Item I give unto my sonne William Symonds one shilling to be paid by my Executor hereafter named.

Item I give devise and bequeath unto my sonne Robert Symonds All my Corne now growing upon ground lyeing in severall fields in Sherborne And two Cottages in Cold Harbour with the appurtenances belonging and the ground lyeing unto. Also I give unto him one dwelling house with the appurtenances belonging lyeing at the Corner in Castleton neare the Mill Lane. Also I give unto him one Yoake of Oxen four horse Beastes. I do likewise give unto him after his mother in Law Maryes widowhood the Coppyhold Tenement which I now live in during his Life with the Land adjoining unto him and his heires for ever and in default of such issue then I give the said Land unto my daughter Elizabeth and her heires and in default of such issue then unto my daughter Joane and her heires and in the want of such issue then I give the said Land unto my Sonne William and his heires.

And I make my sonne Robert Symonds Executor of this my last will Testament. Also I doe intreate my Brother in Law William Ridout and Arthur Bridges to be Guardians unto my sonne Robert Symonds during his minority and to see the Legacies paid and performed as aforesaid by my Executor.

And in case either of my two daughters should dye, Katherine or Joane then the portion to remaine to the other that shall be Living and if both should dye before they attaine unto the age of one and Twenty yeares then the said portion to remaine unto my sonne Robert and my daughter Elizabeth. In witness whereof I have putt my hand and seale the fifteenth day of March one thousand six hundred sixty seven.

Also I give unto my daughters Katherine and Joane ffoure score and foure pounds equally divided betweene them which now lyes in my sister in Law Mary Nailes hands and if both should dye then to remayne as aforesaid. Robert Symonds. Signed Sealed Read published and declared to be the last will and Testament of Robert Symonds of Sherborne in the presence of Mary Higgins her mark. Nicholas Parsons.”


  • Robert died between 15th March and 30th June 1668. He was a yeoman. There is a likely burial of ‘Robert Simmones, uxoratus’ in Sherborne on 14th April 1668.
  • Robert first married Ann and after her death (? ‘Ann Simmond buried 31st March 1663, wife of Robert’ in Sherborne) he married Mary.
  • Robert and Anne had two daughters Katherine & Joan. Son Robert may be Anne’s son (because Mary, Robert’s second wife, was described as Robert’s ‘mother-in-law’ which commonly meant stepmother.
  • Robert’s daughter Elizabeth and son William could have been born to either Ann or Mary.
  • Elizabeth’s maternal grandmother was a Roe i.e. this is the maiden name of one of Robert’s wives.
  • Robert’s children Robert, Katherine and Joan were born after ~1647 as they were under the age of 21 when he wrote his will. If William and Elizabeth were Mary’s children they would be small children (5 years or under) but they could be older if they were Ann’s.
  • Elizabeth is the child first named in the will which might imply that she was the eldest – that and the fact that she is left a quite large sum of money, half of her grandmother Roe’s goods and a house. William is given a shilling, a token amount showing that he is Robert’s son; perhaps Robert had already given money or property to William before he made his will. I think it likely that Elizabeth and William are Robert’s first two children who may have been born to Anne.
  • One son (Robert, William, or an unmentioned son) had a son William who inherited 10 acres of land in Sherborne. There is a baptism of William on the 25th September 1666 to ‘William and Joan Simmones’ in Sherborne which may be of relevance.
  • Robert had a copyhold lease (presumably) in Sherborne, a leasehold tenancy of The Shipp in Castleton, two leasehold cottages in Coldharbour and a house in Castleton.
  • Either a sister of Robert’s married a William Ridout or one of Robert’s wives was formerly a Ridout as Robert names William as his brother-in-law**


Entries from 1677 Sherborne Manor Survey:

  • Westbury: Mary Symonds (46) for her widowhood, Robert Symonds (28) her son – cottage and appurtenances, late Roes. 10 acres, mixed but mostly arable. Rent 4s 2½d (believed copyhold)
  • Barton Farm: William Ridout of Hyle in trust for the Symonds for 99 years if: in reversion Elizabeth Parsons (99) widow Lives: Katherine Symonds, Joan Symonds (now wife of Thomas GODSON of London), Mary daughter of the said Elizabeth Parsons and Sara, daughter of Robert Symonds. 10 acres arable. Rent 5s
  • Barton Farm: Robert Symonds, assignee of his father Robert, deceased. He 28 (plus others). Five yards of land with the houses thereupon erected, late William Roe’s. A cottage late FRY’s and PRIDE, part of the stable erected. Rent £3 3s
  • Primsley: Mary Symonds, widow crossed out. Joseph Parsons written in.


  1. Robert Symonds Jr was born ~1649. By 1677 he was married and had a daughter Sara.
  2. There is a baptism of twins, Joseph and Robert Symonds, sons of Robert and Elizabeth in Sherborne on the 1st January 1648/49. Joseph was buried on the 21st September 1649. If this is the same Robert, he was the son of Elizabeth, not Anne.
  3. ‘Elizabeth Simonds, wife of Robert Simonds’ was buried 17th April 1654 at Sherborne
  4. William Roe, yeoman of Sherborne, made his will on the 18th January 1653. He left his estate to wife Julian and daughter Elizabeth ‘now wife of Robert Symonds’ and their children Robert, John, William and Elizabeth – all under 21 years.
  5. This shows that ‘grandmother Roe’ mentioned in Robert’s will was Elizabeth’s late mother, Julian Roe. Robert, William and Elizabeth were all born to Robert’s first wife Elizabeth. As Robert’s other two daughters were born of his second wife Ann, he probably had no children with third wife Mary. They were married for ~5 years.
  6. Robert Jr’s stepmother, Mary, was born ~1631.
  7. The Westbury cottage is the copyhold tenancy which Robert left his wife; it was ‘late Roe’s’.
  8. William of Hyle (1627-1690) is more than likely the ‘brother-in-law’ to which Robert refers. William married a Frances, so either she was Robert’s sister i.e. Frances Symonds or Robert’s second wife Ann, or third wife Mary was William Ridout’s sibling.**
  9. William was the son of William Ridout and Ann Toogood – this couple only had two children: William and Ann, therefore Robert’s second wife could well have been Ann Ridout. Hence Robert’s wives and children could have been:


Unfortunately, not one of the marriages are to be found in the Sherborne registers, where there are no marriage entries between November 1654 and March 1658/9. If any of the couples married in Castleton, there are no registers before 1710. Of course, Robert may have married in any parish, according to where his bride called home.

**Research into whether or not William Ridout of Hyle’s wife was formerly Symonds is underway…


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