From John Ridout of Sherborne to John Ridout of Bath: a hypothesis

John Ridout, my x3 great grandfather, was baptised in Sherborne on 12th  February 1785. His parents were John and Susanna Ridout.  The couple had other children between at least 1783 and 1796.

John Ridout's baptism: February 1785

The best candidate marriage that I could find was that of John Ridout and Susanna Shore at Sherborne Abbey on Sunday 5th August 1781. Although there were two other ‘John and Susanna’ pairings in Dorset at about the same time, following these families forward has led to their elimination.  After years of searching, the only Susanna Shore I have ever found was, according to a relation of hers who was recently in touch, baptised on May 6th 1755 at Haselbury Plucknett, daughter of James and Ann Shoor. This town is near Crewkerne in Somerset, about twelve miles from Sherborne. It’s possible.

When John and Susanna married in 1781, neither party could sign their name, but this was not an uncommon phenomenon in those days.

John Ridout and Susanna Shore marriage 1781

A witness, William Ridout, also ‘made his mark’. Perhaps William was John’s brother?  On Christmas Day 1779, a William Ridout had married Ann Andrews and his witnesses were John Ridout & Sarah Ridout, all of whom made their mark. Were John and Sarah husband and wife or brother and sister, in which case were they siblings of William? I’ll never know. However, there was only one Ridout couple in Sherborne who had a William (22nd March 1749), a Sarah (4th May 1758) and a John (8th September 1753) baptised. The couple in question was Christopher Ridout and Elizabeth Parker, who married at Sherborne Abbey on Tuesday 5th May 1746. If this is the correct family, then William would have been about thirty when he married and John about twenty-eight. Obviously, Christopher is a particularly relevant name in this branch of the family but, however tempting, this isn’t proof that I’m on the right track, of course.

When trying to trace backwards through time, genealogists tend to assume thirty years between generations, as a rough rule of thumb. So, if Christopher and Elizabeth were baptising children in the early 1750’s I would anticipate that Christopher may have been born about thirty years earlier, say in the early 1720s. Rather fortuitously, I could only find one baptism for a Christopher Ridout in Dorset anyway: Christopher Ridout, son of John and Mary Ridout, baptised on Thursday 2nd April 1722 at Sherborne Abbey!  Now, for a family historian, seeing ‘John and Mary’ is always rather depressing, being probably two of the most common names in England at that time – I’m plumping for John Ridout and Mary Symonds for reasons that go well beyond my ability to explain here – this couple married on 1st January 1718/1719.  Using the ‘thirty year rule’ again, I would suppose this John to have been born in about 1690 and I find a handy baptism on 13th November 1691: ‘John, son of John and Elizabeth Ridout’. There was a marriage, on the 6th January 1690/1691, between John Ridout and Elizabeth Noake – could be them perhaps.

So now I am looking for yet another John baptised, according to the thirty year rule in about 1660 and ‘bang’, I arrive at the brother of Christopher Ridout (he of Ridout’s Mill) – John, baptised on the 26th February 1659/60, son of John Ridout and Elizabeth Oliver.  I have to admit that, genealogically speaking, this is all extremely hypothetical but one has to start with something in order to try strenuously to disprove it!  Putting it all in a line, the descendency from Christopher’s brother down to my x3 great grandfather looks like this:

John Ridout (b. ~1631) = Elizabeth Oliver

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John Ridout (b. ~1660) = Elizabeth Noake

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John Ridout (b. ~1691) = Mary Symonds

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Christopher Ridout (b. ~1722) = Elizabeth Parker

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John Ridout (b. ~1753) = Susanna Shore

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John Ridout (b. 1785) = Sarah Hodges

Matches with yDNA have suggested that there is a high chance that my ‘nearest common ancestor’ with descendents of Christopher Ridout (b. 1669) is within fourteen generations. The tree above suggests a common ancestor at about twelve. The task ahead is now to search out every scrap of evidence that exists to try and prove or disprove the theory – sounds like a big project to me!

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