The Nethercombe Ridouts in Sherborne: have I found my line?

In the 1780 and 1782 Sherborne Land Tax records, a ‘Mr John Ridout’ is recorded who owned or leased property in the Nethercombe parish of Sherborne; he paid £1-11-0d in tax (at 4 shillings in the pound this would value his property at about £7-15-0). I have not yet identified who this man was; perhaps he was my x4 great grandfather who I have nicknamed ‘John Ridout IV’. If this is so, he would have recently married Susanna Shore in Sherborne Abbey. I found another record that might refer to the same man:

(a) Sherborne Militia Ballots List. November 1798, Westbury tithing [Dorset Local History Centre]

Record number LA/3/9/16 at the Dorset Local History Centre showed the following entry on a militia ballot list of 1798 for the tithing of Westbury in Sherborne:

Name, Height and Notes

Ridout, John ‘co/sv’ [crossed out/served]

The 1757 Militia Act directed that militia regiments be re-established in England and Wales. Since it was unlikely that sufficient volunteers would come forward, a type of conscription was introduced by which means parishes made lists of adult males and held ballots to choose those for compulsory service. Militia Ballot Lists contained the names of all men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five eligible for the ballot. By the early 1760’s the majority of counties in England and Wales held annual ballots requiring yearly lists of names to be compiled. The Dorset lists contain variable information, in some cases the name of the man, height, marital status, number of children, infirmities or previous service, any of which might allow exemption.

The Westbury tithing of Sherborne included Hyle Farm, West Mill and other fields and houses in the area including Acreman Street. John Ridout would have been between 18 and 45 years to have been included in this list and clearly he had served in the militia before, which exempted him for further service. My x4 great grandfather, John Ridout was baptised in about 1753 – he would have been about forty-three. Could this have been him?

Having found these two references, I was encouraged to look for any history of Ridouts in the Nethercombe/Westbury area and see if I could trace back from John. I found a few much older items in the Dorset Record Centre relating to ‘John Ridout of Acreman Street’. On a modern map, this long thoroughfare, west of Sherborne town centre, runs from north to south starting at the junction with the A30 Yeovil road, becoming Lower Acreman Street after the junction with Trendle Street/Horsecastles and then merging with Westbury (which runs past Hyle Farm). At its northernmost point, Acreman Street was within the old parish of Nethercombe. Here are details of the records:

(b) 1677 Sherborne Manor Survey

Manorial surveys, conducted periodically for the benefit of the Lord of the Manor, listed his tenants with the acreage of the properties that they leased and the three ‘lives’ upon them. This document shows, in the homage of Nethercombe:

Tenant: John Ridout of Acreman Street for 99 years if [he should live so long]
Estates in being: He 20. Elizabeth his wife & John Parker son of Rich’d Parker of Sutton
Tenements: Parcell of a tenement. Late Banwells. A barne & backside
Acres: Meadow 3½; Arable 20½; Total 29.
Yearly rent: 14s Quarterly. Yearly value besides the rents: 10li
Herriot: Best beast or goods

So, John Ridout, aged twenty (born ~1657) was married to Elizabeth, who may or may not have been related to the other ‘life’ John PARKER, son of Richard Parker of Sutton. John and Elizabeth had probably not been married that long but I couldn’t find any record in the Sherborne parish records or elsewhere, detailing this marriage.

(c) 1687 Roll 41 1683/4 Articles of agreement

“3 June 1687. John Ridout of Akeman Street yeoman. The Earl of Bristol* agrees to let him have an Estate granted to him by lease in reversion after his own life for 99 years in Elizabeth the daughter of Richard Porter & John the son of same Richard Porter of Sutton in the County of Somerset do so long live. i.e a barn, 29 acres of ground belonging now in occupation of said John Ridout. John Ridout makes his mark it is witnessed by William Ridout who can write.”

This agreement was made ten years later than the manor survey above. John Ridout of Acreman Street would now be about 30 years old and it is apparent that he is one of three lives on a lease for 29 acres of land, sharing with two children of Richard PORTER of Sutton: Elizabeth and John.  The acreage is the same as that of ‘Banwell’s tenement’ and therefore this seems to be referring to the same John Ridout and the same tenancy. Is it a coincidence that the other lives are still named as Elizabeth and John, as in 1677? Does this infer that Richard Porter of Sutton and Richard Parker of Sutton are one and the same? Maybe but in 1687 Elizabeth is not named as John’s wife this time, only as Richard’s daughter.

sutton_montis_from_cadbury_hillfort_for_webHappily for me, I found an entry for a marriage licence in the names of John Ridout of Sherborne, Dorset, yeoman, and Elizabeth Porter, of Sutton Montis, spinster, aged 23. The father apparently consented (it was not stated whose father!) and the marriage was to take place at Wells Cathedral or Wells St. Cuthbert on the 20th June 1687.  Sutton Montis is a village in the parish of South Cadbury, Somerset, five miles south of Sherborne. I was also intrigued to find the baptism of a son Porter, named for his mother no doubt, to John and Elizabeth Ridout at Sherborne in 1698.

These entries imply that in 1677, John’s wife was a different Elizabeth, a woman who died before 1687. There is a burial for an Elizabeth Ridout as early as December 1677 but this may not be her.  It was interesting to see that John could not sign his name, although William Ridout could.                         *Earl DIGBY of Sherborne, the Lord of the Manor.

 (d) Sherborne Estates Leases document (1709-1806)

This details a fine (fee) of £21.10s imposed for changing the ‘lives’ on a leasehold property, dated 5th July 1710 where Morgan LODGE was the tenant. A third life, Thomas Oliver, son of Thomas Oliver of Castletown, was added to that of Elizabeth RIDOUT and John PORTER.

The property was described as: “his estate in the tenement of late John RIDOUT in Acreman Street. LODGE is to have the Liberty to dig Quarr and dispose of stones in about 3 yards of the premises lying on Old Quarr, of wch stones my Lord reserves to himself the power of raising and carrying away so many as his Honour shall think fitt for his own use.”

From this document it appears that by July 1710, John Ridout Jr of Acreman Street had died, leaving his widow Elizabeth. There is a burial record at Sherborne Abbey for John Ridout on 23rd August 1709. The two remaining lives on this lease were Elizabeth Ridout and John Porter, identical to those in both earlier documents. John’s ‘life’ was to be replaced by that of Thomas Oliver.

(e) 1677 Sherborne Manor Survey

Tenant: Thomas Ridout assignee of John Ridout his father decd. for 99 years if.
Estates in being: William Ridout 17 his brother and the same Thomas 11. Cary Boucher son of Sam.
Tenements: A rovelesse tenement with appurtenances called Swynes Well, formerly ffosters.
Acres: pasture 1, meadow 8, arable 29. Total 33
Yearly rent: 1li 7s ½d Quarterly. Yearly value besides the rents: 10li
Herriott: best beast or goods.

Thomas is said to be eleven years old and William seventeen; these are John Ridout’s sons and it seems that he is ‘deceased’.

Summarising, a man named John Ridout, who lived in Nethercombe and had died before 1677, had two possibly three sons: John born in about 1657, William in 1659/60 and Thomas in 1666.  John Sr may have leased one or both of ‘Banwell’s’ and ‘Wyne’s Well’ (sometimes described as ‘Swyne’s Well’ or ‘Swingwell’) tenements. From available records, I believe that this John Ridout left a will, written on the 15th February 1671/2 (probated on the 18th May 1672) in which he referred to his son John, to whom he leaves ‘part of Banwell Tenement lying in Sherborne’ and also says:

“Whereas my brother Thomas Ridout deceased did by his will give my son Thomas a legacy of one hundred pounds, which said legacy I used in the buying of an estate and tenement called Swingwell in Sherborne aforesaid I do therefore give and bequeath the said tenement Swingwell and the appurtenances unto my said son Thomas.”

John mentions names his five children as John, William, Thomas, Mary and Elizabeth, all of whom are under the age of 21 in 1672. I found appropriately dated baptisms of the above named children to parents John and Alice (sometimes ‘Alse’) Ridout. In his will, John did not mention Alice but bequeathed the sum of £10 to ‘Sister Elizabeth Toogood, for her care of my children’ implying that he was a widower. In due course, John’s son William, who wrote his will in 1682, mentioned his ‘Aunt Elizabeth Toogood, spinster’ and also his Uncle William Toogood’. This suggests that John Ridout’s wife was formerly Alice Toogood. A burial record exists: ‘Alice, wife of John Ridout, buried on the 17th May 1670’; John was buried as ‘a widower’ on the 23rd February 1671/2. Apart from naming his late brother Thomas, John also mentioned a brother William.

The most likely candidate for Thomas Ridout, John’s elder brother, seems to be this man, who dictated his last will and testament on the 13th May 1668, which went to probate on the 5th December of that year:

“That upon or about the thirteenth day of may in the yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred sixty and eight Thomas Ridout late of Leigh in the County of Dorsett being sicke of the sickness whereof he afterwards died but of perfect mynd and memory and having an intention to settle and dispose of his estate did make and declare his last will and testament … or by word of mouth as following or to the like effect. Viz I will or I do give me wife my …. And all my goods within doores and without and one hundred pounds in money and I give her my meads at Holwell during her life and after her decease I give the meades to John Ridout during the terme of yeares or estates that I have in it. I give also one hundred pounds to John Ridouts younger sonne Thomas. I give Anne Hole, the eldest daughter of Edward Hole twenty pounds. John Ridout shall be my executor and he shall have all the rest. And he the deceased did further will and desire that John Ridout the executor should not sue any person that owed moneyes on bond to him the said deceased till halfe a yeare after his death nor … any interest for that halfe yeare with an intent that what he soe declared should stand for and be his last will and testament in the presence and hearing of credible witnesses.”

I also found the will of a lady that some researchers believe was Thomas’ wife, Marjorie or Margery Ridout (misspelt ‘RIDEON’), which was was proved in August 1669. Margery mentioned no children only her siblings and she left money for the ‘poor of Holwell’ and asked to be buried in Holwell churchyard. Thomas, on the other hand, was buried at Sherborne Abbey on the 18th May 1668. I found it unusual for a married couple to have been interred separately and so, in my opinion, the identity of Thomas’s wife is still perhaps open to question.  Unfortunately, Thomas did not name his wife in his will but, it is true that he left her ‘my meades in Holwell’. Both Thomas and Margery were ‘of Leigh’ which is a village about six miles south-west from Sherborne; Holwell is a village about six miles south-west from Sherborne.

Victorian genealogist, Arthur George Ridout, had recorded Thomas Ridout ‘of Leigh’ (1634/5-1668) as a great grandson of William Ridowte of Hyle, grandson of Thomas Ridout & Edith Oldish and son of Thomas & Eleanor. But Arthur also recorded Thomas’ brother John as the John Ridout (1632-1678) who married Elizabeth Oliver, Christopher Ridout the baker’s parents. I have shown here that this cannot be true as Thomas Ridout of Leigh’s brother was John (d. 1672) who married Alice Toogood and fathered John, who married Elizabeth Porter! I am fairly confident that the Nethercombe line herein described is correct but I do not know, at the moment, quite where these men fit into the larger tree… watch this space!

Wherever John Ridout and Elizabeth Porter belong, further research revealed some interesting new characters that belong to this Sherborne family, men who spread their wings to London!

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