The conundrum of the two Johns, husbands of Elizabeth OLIVER & Alice TOOGOOD

On this blog site, I have written about two John Ridouts – one who married Elizabeth Oliver (here) many of whose descendants now live in Canada and the USA, and the other John Ridout who married Alice Toogood (here) some of whose descendants went to London and others of whom remained in Sherborne. Trying to sort out which John goes where in the family tree is complex and confusing. Here, I will do my best to explain the logic behind my particular interpretation but, as always, this is open to scrutiny and challenge.

John Ridout – husband of Elizabeth Oliver

In the 1677 Manor Survey of Sherborne, in the homage of Nethercombe, there was a leaseholder called John Ridout of Combe (short for Nethercombe), said to be 45 years old and therefore born in about 1632; after a lot of researching I have concluded that it is likely this man was John Ridout, widower of Elizabeth (née Oliver).

In John Ridout of Combe’s will (1678) he mentioned his brother-in-law Christopher Oliver, which has probably been the basis for family historians believing that John’s wife must therefore have been Elizabeth Oliver. However, John’s sister Edith was Christopher Oliver’s wife (mar. Sherborne on the 24th Oct 1654), which would also qualify the men to be brothers-in-law. Hence Elizabeth may or may not have been an Oliver, but in any event it suggests that John’s parents would also have had a daughter Edith. Of course, the absence of a baptism is not evidence that such a child was not born, but the only couple that I know had both a John and an Edith were William Ridout and Julyan Toogood (John bp. 4th May 1634 and Edith bp. 3rd July 1631). Both children were mentioned by name in the will of their aunt, Magdalen Toogood, dated 1638.

Going back to the 1677 survey – in Hound Street, Sherborne the lives on a copyhold tenement described as ‘formerly Rawleigh’s’, meaning the previous holder was Sir Walter Raleigh, were William Ridout Sr (78 years) and his sons Thomas Ridout (54 years) and William Ridout (53 years). These men were, I believe, William (husband of Julyan Toogood; bp. 28th Nov 1599) and sons Thomas (bp. 16th Jan 1623/4) and William (bp. 28th Jan 1625/6). Thomas and William, therefore, would be the brothers of John Ridout of Combe. Note that Thomas is alive, but when genealogist Arthur Ridout constructed this family tree, he maintained that John’s brother Thomas had died in 1668 and left him his property in Holwell, giving £100 to his nephew Thomas. I believe that this is wrong as I have shown that the Thomas who died in 1668 was brother of John Ridout, husband of Alice, née Toogood (in his 1671 will, John referred to his brother Thomas’s bequest and had said that the £100 had been used to buy a lease on Swingwell tenement, which he later handed over to son Thomas).

John Ridout – husband of Alice Toogood

I don’t know when this John was born but, after searching all available Dorset parish records, I think I have found a likely baptism for his wife Alse (Alice) Toogood, which took place in Sherborne Abbey on the 2nd October 1630, daughter of Robert Toogood. John (in his 1671 will) mentioned Robert Toogood and also referred to his ‘brother’ William Toogood, probably meaning his late wife Alice’s brother. The following Abbey baptisms may be of this family…

Robt Toogood bp. 23rd Feb 1621, son of Robt
Katherine Toogood bp. 16th Jun 1622, daughter of Robt
Elizabeth Toogood bp 31st Aug 1625, daughter of Robt
Grace Toogood bp. 25th Apr 1626, daughter of Robti
William Toogood bp. 8th Oct 1626, son of Robti
Alfe Toogood bp. 2nd Oct 1630, daughter of Robert
Mary Toogood bp. 21st Sep 1634, daughter of Robert & Elizabeth
Thomas Toogood bp. 26th Aug 1635, son of Robert

A Court of Bequests case (Dorchester Popes M.S.S Court of Bequests Chas. I Bundle 42), dated 1636, involved depositions taken from members of these Ridout and Toogood families. Here it was written that a witness, Robert Toogood’s wife Elizabeth (see the baptism of Mary above) was aged forty years and that Robert was a forty-five year old husbandman. Possibly the same Robert Toogood ‘of Combe’, in a very brief will dated 1658, mentioned his wife, a son William and unmarried daughters Grace and Mary. Neither Alice nor Elizabeth were named but perhaps they were married or soon to be married – if this is the correct Robert Toogood. If the Alice baptised in 1630 was John’s wife, and making a possibly incorrect assumption that John might have been the same age or slightly older, it seems that this John was born in the late 1620’s or early 1630’s.

The full Ridout tree includes four married couples that baptised a son John in the correct time frame:

25th Apr 1622, John son of Thomas Ridout (bp. 1574) and Edith Palmer
10th Jun 1625, John son of William Ridout (bp. 1577) and Edith Oldice
24th Feb 1630/31, John son of Thomas Ridout (bp. 1601) and Eleanor
4th May 1634, John son of William Ridout Jr (bp. 1599) and Julyan Toogood

Eliminating William and Julyan, Alice Toogood’s husband John Ridout could have been the son of either Thomas (bp. 1574) and Edith or William (bp. 1577) and Edith, or Thomas (bp. 1601) and Eleanor.

Arthur Ridout wrote that Alice’s husband John was the son of William Ridout and Edith Oldice, although he gave no reason for this. Is he correct? The answer, in my opinion, is ‘no’ because in his 1671 will, John mentions a living brother, William, but William and Edith’s son William, husband of Ann Toogood, died as a young man in 1630. Arthur had mistakenly thought that this man had lived a long life, married twice and fathered many children but, sadly, the truth was the complete opposite – William was under thirty years old when he died; his wife Ann remarried Robert Parfitt. These facts are confirmed by the Court of Bequests case, mentioned above, and by the 1638 will of Magdalen Toogood in which she describes William and Ann’s son William as “William Ridout the now sonne in law of Robert Parfitt of Sherborne”. In the context of seventeenth century wills, ‘son-in-law’ usually meant ‘stepson’.

The elimination of two Ridout couples leaves just two set of potential parents for ‘my’ John Ridout: Thomas and Edith or (his son) Thomas and wife Eleanor. Of course, if John was the son of Thomas and Edith, then his brother Thomas, who supposedly died childless in 1668, would instead be the man who married Eleanor, was alive in 1672 and was far from childless! So the only couple left is Thomas and Eleanor themselves who had no son William, as far as I know. Arthur thought that the John baptised in 1632 to this couple was the man that married Elizabeth Oliver but I think that he was more likely the man that married Alice Toogood; Arthur thought that Alice’s husband John had been the son of William and Edith but I have shown that this was not possible. Perhaps in time more evidence will come along to put this tree together with certainty but for now I will stay with my hypothesis. For a tree chart showing the two Johns in this family tree (under William & Agnetha) please click here.

Recently, new information has come to light and connections are being made that are very exciting, linking our Ridout family back to the nobility of Dorset, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Elizabethan era! This is still a work in progress and I have yet to travel to The National Archives in London to search out some ancient documents for the next instalment of this story. It could be that I can finally work out just which family belongs where!

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