Thomas Ridout was baptised in North Wootton on the 13st February 1682, son of ‘Thomas and Margrett’. On the 29th March 1718, in Sherborne Abbey, Thomas married Susannah daughter of ‘John Porter of Compton’ (she was bp. 18th March 1693 in Nether Compton, a village three miles west of Sherborne). I did speculate as to whether John Porter could possibly be the brother of Elizabeth Porter, who married John Ridout of Nethercombe, but I can find no evidence for or against that hypothesis!
One useful way to discover something of an individual is by looking at his or her will. Both Thomas and Susannah wrote quite detailed wills – first an abridged version of Thomas’s will, dated the 14th April 1758:
“In the Name of God Amen I Thomas Ridout of North Wootton in the County of Dorset yeoman being weak but of a sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding do make this my last Will and Testament in manner following. Whereas I have a Mortgage on George Hockey’s estate lying in the Parish of Mudford in the County of Somerset for securing the sum of two hundred and thirty Pounds and interest now I do hereby give the said two hundred and thirty Pounds unto my two Sons John Ridout and James Ridout upon Trust that they or the survivor of them shall from the time of my decease pay over unto my daughter Susanna the Wife of Soloman Andrews the Yearly Interest or Produce thereof for the rest of her natural Life for her own private use and separate and apart from her Husband and her Receipt alone shall be a sufficient discharge for the same and from and after her decease I give and bequeath the said Principal sum of two hundred and thirty Pounds unto my Grandchildren Temperance Andrews Thomas Andrews William Andrews Richard Andrews John Andrews Susanah Andrews equally to be divided between them. Also I give unto my said son James Ridout All my freehold Lands and Tenements lying in the parish of Yetminster in the said County of Dorsett to hold to him his executors administrators and assigns for and during all my Estate Term and Interest therein. Also I nominate and appoint my said son James Ridout to be the Lords next Tenant to all my Customary hold estates lying in the parish of Yetminster aforesaid. … Also I give unto my said wife my Bed Bedstead and ffurniture thereto belonging in the Middle Chamber of the House where I now live. Also I give unto my daughter Elizabeth Ridout one Guinea. Also I give and bequeath unto my Grandson Thomas Ridout son of the said James Ridout my leasehold tenement in North Wootton aforesaid where I now live to hold to him from and immediately after the several deaths of my said Wife Susanah Ridout and of my son John Ridout for and during all my then remainder of the Term therein. Also I give unto my said Grandson Thomas Ridout one half part of all my household Goods immediately after the death of my said son John Ridout. Lastly all the Rest of my Goods Chattels mortgages stock of cattle debts bonds sum and sums of money and not hereinbefore bequeathed I give unto my said son John Ridout whom I make and constitute sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament … Witnesses thereto on the presence of the said Testator. John Bulster, Ann Bell, John Fooks.”
Thomas was buried at North Wootton on the 27th March 1760. His will was proved at London the 20th October of that year. This is an abridged version of Thomas’s wife Susannah’s will, dated the 26th May 1764:
“By this my last Will and Testament made the twenty sixth day of May in the Year of our Lord One thousand and seven hundred and sixty four, I Susannah Ridout of North Wootton in the County of Dorset Widow Do Give and Dispose of my Goods and Effects in Manner following (that is to say) I Give and Bequeath unto my two Sons John Ridout and James Ridout And to the Survivor of them his Executor and Administrators the sum of One Hundred pounds Upon Trust that they the said John Ridout and James Ridout Do as soon as conveniently may be after my Decease place one the Same at Interest on such Security or Securitys as they shall think fitt And pay over such Interest as they shall make thereof unto my Daughter Susannah the wife of Soloman Andrews for the sole and seperate Use During the terme of her natural Life whose receipt alone shall be a sufficient Discharge for the same And from and after the Decease of the said Susannah Andrews I Give and Bequeath the said sum of One Hundred Pounds in manner following (that is to say) To my Grandaughter Temperance Andrews the Sum of Forty Pounds part thereof And To my Grandaughters Susannah Andrews Elizabeth Andrews and Sarah Andrews the Sum of Twenty Pounds apiece being the residue thereof to be paid them by my said Sons when they shall think proper for the better preferment in Life after they shall Attain their respective Ages of Twenty one … To my Grandaughter Susannah Ridout the Sum of Forty Pounds part thereof And to my Grandaughters Elizabeth Ridout Jane Ridout and Mary Ridout the Sum of Twenty Pounds a piece being the residue thereof to be paid them by the said Son James Ridout when he shall think proper for the better preferment in Life after they shall attain their respective Ages of Twenty one Years… Also I Give unto my Grandaughter Susannah Noake the Sum of Twenty pounds which I direct to be paid to my Son-in-Law John Noake immediately after my Decease to be by him Applied and Improved for the Benefit of the said Susannah Noake during her Minority And when she shall Arrive to the Age of Twenty one Years I do hereby order and direct that the said John Noake shall pay the said Twenty Pounds with such Interest as he shall make thereof in case he shall then think her deserving of the same And also I Give unto my Daughter Elizabeth the wife of the said John Noake the Sum of Five Pounds. Lastly all the Rest & Residue of my Goods Chattles and Effects I Give and Bequeath unto my said Sons John Ridout and James Ridout whom I make and appoint joint Executors of this my Will In Witness whereof I Susannah Ridout the Testatrix have hereunto Set my Hand & Seal the day & Year above written. Signed Sealed published & Declared by me Susannah Ridout as for her last Will & Testament in the presence of John Glover, John Fooks.”
Susannah was buried at North Wootton on the 3rd November 1766; her will was proved in 1767. From these wills, and from parish records, it was possible to identify the following children of Thomas and Susannah:
1] John bp. 2nd May 1719 at North Wootton; buried there on the 4th June 1787.
2] Susannah bp. 6th February 1720 at N. Wootton; married Soloman ANDREWS of Preston on the 25th January 1742 at N. Wootton.
3] Thomas bp. 15th October 1725 at N. Wootton; buried on the 4th January 1743.
4] James bp. 30th April 1730 at N. Wootton; married Jane daughter of Charles Vie at some point before about 1750; died on the 6th October 1766 and was buried at Folke four days later, on the 10th.
5] Elizabeth bp. 27th December 1734 at N. Wootton; married John NOAKE of Wraxall at North Wootton on the 30th October 1758.
The oldest son John outlived his brother James and left a will, written on the 24th January 1780:
“I John Ridout of Northwootton in the County of Dorset yeoman do make this my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say ffirst I do hereby nominate my nephew Charles Ridout of the City of Bristol to be the Lord’s next tenant to all that my customary hold tenement and estate situate lying and being in the manor of Yetminster in the County of Dorset also I give and bequeath unto my two nephews James Ridout and John Ridout the sum of two hundred pounds apiece to be paid them at their respective ages of twenty one years… Also I give and bequeath unto my said three nieces Betty Ridout Susannah Ridout and Mary Ridout the sum of one hundred pounds apiece to be paid them when they shall attain their respective ages of twenty one years… Also I give to my nephew John Andrews the sum of twenty pounds. Also I give to his Brothers and Sisters the sum of one Guinea each. Also I give to each of the children of my sister Elizabeth Noake one Guinea. Also I give and bequeath unto my nephew Thomas Ridout all my Messuages Lands Tenements and Hereditaments situate lying and being at Holwell or elsewhere in the County of Somerset to hold to him his heirs and assigns forever but charged with the payment of all my Debts and Legacies herein before given. Lastly all my Leasehold Estates and also all the rest and residue of my Personal Estates and Effects of what nature or kind soever I give and bequeath unto my said Nephew Thomas Ridout whom I appoint and make sole executor of this my will… witnesses hereto John Fooks, Charles B Hart, Thomas Trevellon.”
This will was proved at London on the 27th October 1787 and shows that John was probably not married or, had he been so, then was widowed and without surviving children at the time of his decease. From these wills it can be seen that the majority of property of the three adults was ultimately left to Thomas and Susannah’s grandson, Thomas the oldest son of James Ridout, who received a tenement in North Wootton from his grandfather (after the death of his grandmother and uncle John) and all the tenements in Holwell ‘and elsewhere in Somerset’ from his uncle.
James Ridout ‘the yeoman’ (1730-1766)
John’s younger brother James appeared in various Sherborne records and hence I know a little about him. James’s wife Jane was, as stated beforehand, the daughter of Charles Vie and Betty Oliver. Betty wrote a will on the 14th December 1773 (probate August 1777) leaving her dwelling house in Sherborne, which she had purchased from her nephew, Simon Oliver, first to her unmarried daughter Elizabeth Vie then, after her decease, to her grandson Charles (Vie) Ridout, son of James (by then deceased). Betty also bequeathed her interest in another property in Cold Harbour, Sherborne to James’s son Thomas and a third to James’s daughter Elizabeth. Monetary bequests were made to all of James’s children and gifts of plate and clothes went to Charles Vie and Elizabeth, probably the two oldest grandchildren. Betty named her ‘shopman’ as James Andrews (perhaps a relative of Soloman Andrews?) meaning that Betty had probably kept a shop in the town; her husband was a yeoman farmer. This will, and various parish records, show that James and Jane Ridout had ten children including sons Charles Vie (bp. 15th May 1764 at Folke) and James (bp. 18th January 1765 at Folke), both of whom became involved in the linen and drapery business:
James Ridout wrote a will dated 3rd October 1760, which I obtained from Dorset Record Office:
“In the Name of God Amen I James Ridout of Folke in the County of Dorset Yeoman being sick and weak but of sound and disposing mind memory and understanding do make this my last Will and testament in manner following First I nominate and Appoint my Brother John Ridout of North Wootton in the County of Dorset Yeoman and William Horsey of Folke aforesaid Clerk to be the Lord’s next Tenants to all my Customary held Tenements and Lands lying and being in the Manor of Yetminster in the said County of Dorset In Trust that they shall sell and Dispose thereof And the Moneys arising therefrom to place out at Interest in their Names And in the Names of my other Trustee hereinafter named upon such Security or Securities as they shall think fitt and Apply the Interest and produce thereof to and for the Maintenance and Education of all my Children in Equal Shares and Proportions during their respective Minorities And from and after my said Children shall attain their respective Ages of Twenty two years My Wish is That the Principal Sum shall go and be divided amongst my said Children in Manner following that is to say Three parts thereof to my sons and Two parts to my Daughters. Also I give unto my Wife Jane Ridout the Sum of Two Hundred pounds of lawfull money of Great Britain to be paid her by my Executors hereinafter named within Six Months next after my Decease Also all my Stock, Moneys, Goods, Chattles and other my Personal Estate of what nature or kind soever I Give and Bequeath unto my said Brother John Ridout, William Horsey and also Jonathan Cadie the Younger of Holwell in the County of Somerset Yeoman and James Beeke of Oborne in the County of Dorset yeoman In Trust that they or the Survivors or Survivor of them do and shall with all Convenient speed after my decease Sell and Dispose of all my Stock, Cattle, Implements of Husbandry and out of the moneys arising therefrom after payment of the Said Two Hundred pounds to my said Wife… Also I do hereby appoint the said John Ridout William Horsey Jonathan Cadie and James Noake Executors of this my Will in Trust for the purposes before mentioned. In Witness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand and seal the third day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred & Sixty.”
[Signed by James Ridout, Elizabeth Vie and John Fookes; mark of Martha Perrott. Probate at Sherborne on the 9th September 1767.]
Charles Vie Ridout, son of James and Jane (1753-1815)
Baptised on the 15th May 1753 at Folke, nearly four miles SE of Sherborne, James’s son Charles Vie went to Bristol as a young man, perhaps because it was such a bustling port and he was in the Irish linen trade. His name appeared in the Bristol Burgess Books of 1781 and, much later, in the voter’s list for the General Election of 1812. On the 18th October 1784 at St Lawrence Jewry and St Mary Magdalene in London, Charles married sixteen-year old Jane SMITH with the permission of her guardian. Interestingly, in a marriage settlement between the couple, the trustees were named as Jane’s mother-in-law Clare Blyth, a clothier, and Thomas Ridout of North Wootton, Charles’s grandfather but, after Thomas and Charles had died, the role was taken on by ‘John Ridout of New Bridge Street, Blackfriars in London’ (John Gibbs Ridout, uncle of Thomas Gibbs Ridout). In a twenty year period, between 1786 and 1806, the couple had twelve children.
Street directories of 1793-94 show that Charles was a partner in a family drapery business ‘Oliver, Ridout & Oliver’, which was located at 1 High Street and also as ‘linen merchants’ in Maryport Street, Bristol. An entry dated the 23rd February 1795 in the London Gazette (p.1456) records the theft of silk and cotton handkerchiefs from the shop by a young female. The goods, worth 10s, were ‘the property of Simon Oliver, Charles Ridout and Lionel Oliver, partners in the said shop of Simon Oliver at the parish of All Saints’ (Bristol). In my last blog I wrote about the various Simon Olivers – this chap was probably the only surviving child of the youngest Simon (1694-1741).
On the 21st December 1805, a notice was posted in the Staffordshire Advertiser that a company partnership in Wales had been dissolved, three members having left:
I was intrigued to see that Charles Ridout and Simon Oliver, with others, had been involved with a grocery business at Hirwaun in South Wales. The Rhondda Cynon Taff Society records: “In 1803 the (Hirwaun iron-) works passed (from Thomas Bacon) to a new partnership of Francis William Bouzer, Simon Oliver, Lionel Oliver and Jeremiah Homfray. Homfray later retired and was replaced by George Overton. After 1805 this partnership began a program of work at the site which included the construction of a second blast furnace. Unfortunately, the construction of a second furnace was not enough to save the works from a trade depression and the works were put up for sale again in 1813.” The London Gazette (January 1813) printed bankruptcy notices naming, amongst others, Lionel Oliver:
I subsequently found a will for Simon Oliver, dated 20th May 1814 which was proved two months later; he wrote that Lionel, his son had been declared bankrupt (with respect to Hirwaun) and still owed him many thousands of pounds; for this reason he excluded him from his bequests. Simon left a small sum of money to his ‘partner’, Charles. Charles Vie Ridout died from apoplexy and was buried, aged 63, on the 1st March 1815 at St. Michael’s Church in Bristol. It is probable that Simon and Charles continued their Bristol shop until their respective deaths and had been only sleeping partners at Hirwaun.
At some point, Charles lived at the Royal Fort, a rather imposing building which now houses Bristol University’s Centre for Advanced Studies. On Sunday 2nd February 1812, he was visited at the Fort by a young Canadian, Thomas Gibbs Ridout (grandson of George Ridout the baker of Sherborne), who was staying in Bristol for a few days as part of a wider tour of England; Thomas also travelled to Sherborne and recounted:
“On my visit to Sherbourne (sic), I went to see my old grandfather’s house. I found it in ruins, the hedges are out of repair, and the avenue of trees leading to the house have their tops cut off. I also went to see the grammar school, which now consists of twenty boys, kept by Rev. J. Cutler. It was Christmas holidays. A girl came out and civilly unlocked the door. I walked up and down the room, saw the oaken benches, desks and wainscoting cut up and carved with 3,000 names; saw John Gibbs Ridout carved upon one. I went to Sherbourne church on Sunday, sat just below the old organ, and had a full view of the grandeur of this Gothic pile, which has stood unmoved in war and peace, through the storms and tempests of 700 years, its clustered pillars forming a lofty, deep arch. The mossy walls seem to defy time, and I think that seven centuries may again roll away, and this building will remain in a perfect state. After church, James Ridout showed me grandfather’s seat, near the pulpit, which I entered – the place beyond Lord Digby’s. There, on that spot, fifty years ago, sat my father [Thomas 1754-1829], in the other corner, grandfather [George 1701-1779]. Here in this church, for generations, had the family been christened and buried; but I found myself more a stranger” in Sherbourne than any other town I had been in. James Ridout, being churchwarden, showed me the parish books from 1540. In 1630 I saw the name of John Ridout in the vestry [possibly alluding to his great great grandfather].”
From ‘Ten Years of Upper Canada in Peace and War, 1805-1815: being the Ridout letters with annotations (1890).’ Author: Ridout, Thomas, 1754-1829
It seems probable that Thomas Gibbs Ridout, who had never been to Britain before, was given instructions by his father Thomas, author of the book, on which family members he should visit in England since he almost certainly didn’t run into Charles or James by accident!
Sherborne Abbey has been changed inside long since Thomas was there; on my visit, I could not find evidence of the Ridout family pew that Thomas spoke of and unfortunately, neither could I gain access to Sherborne School in order to check out the graffiti!
James Ridout, younger brother of Charles Vie (1765-1836)
Charles Vie Ridout’s younger brother James, baptised on the 18th January 1765 at Folke, also became a draper; perhaps the business came down through Betty Vie.
James’s shop was at The Parade in Cheap Street, Sherborne – today the busy main thoroughfare of the town. Below is the wording of an advertisement published by the Sherborne Mercury on Monday the 28th May 1792:
Mercery, Linen and Woollen Draper, &c
James Ridout, Cheap-street, Sherborne, grateful to his friends for past favours, solicits their inspection of his new purchases, lately made in London, and which will be sold on the lowest terms, particularly Dimittys, Muflinettes, and White Calicoes, at very reduced prices; a great variety of Genteel Prints; Muflins of every description; an assortment of Fancy Waistcoatings, and other Articles of Dress for Gentleman’s Wear; also a good assortment of Men’s and Boy’s Hats. Light gold taken in exchange for goods, without any deductions. N.B. Funerals completely furnished.
It is not clear at what point James started in the business in Cheap St but the advertisement implies that he was not new (reference to ‘past favours’) and yet he was just twenty-seven in 1792.
On the 9th June 1796, James married Susanna PARSONS, daughter of the Rev. Francis Parsons of Yeovil and the sister of the Rev. John Parsons, Vicar of Sherborne. By the time Susanna reached the age of thirty-nine, she had borne James nine children.
Evidently James was an upright citizen of Sherborne since, as well as being a Burgess, in 1799 he became first a Governor then the Warden of Sherborne School; he was also Warden in 1815, 1821 and 1833. According to the school’s own website, in 1823 the number of pupils, in what was then King Edward (VI)’s free grammar school, was as low as eighteen (two less than the number reported by Thomas Ridout eleven years earlier!) but, by 1845 under the headship of the Rev. Ralph LYON, numbers had steadily increased to reach 150 before declining again. Sherborne achieved independent public school status in 1871 and today is a very prestigious institution.
In the Piggott’s directories of 1823 and 1830, at Sherborne, James’s shop is entered as ‘James Ridout & Son, Cheap St’ and (only in 1830) also ‘Sams & Ridout, Long St.’ Interestingly, under Wines & Spirits Merchants, James is again listed as Ridout, James & Son (British only) Cheap St.’
Whether as a result of his business acumen or because of bequests from family members over the years, James acquired a lovely home called Abbey Grange (then referred to as Abbey Barns, it having been converted from the central part of the old barn in 1828). On a visit to Sherborne a few years ago, I found the house and was delighted when the owners allowed me into the grounds to photograph the exterior. I was not surprised to see that the extensive back garden reached the rear of the shops in Cheap Street and I was pretty sure that this had afforded a very quick and pleasant stroll to work for James!
James died in Folke and was buried on the 9th September 1836; Susannah on the 20th February 1846. James left a very lengthy will, dated 25th April 1836, which I have condensed to include only relevant points:
“This is the last will and testament of me James Ridout of Sherborne in the county of Dorset, mercer and draper, whereby I dispose of the worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bestow me in manner and form following, that is to say that first I give Susannah my dear wife all the household goods and furniture, plate, linen, china, books, pictures and liquors of all kinds that may be found in or about the dwelling house and premises where I am now or may be dwelling at the time of my decease… also I give and devise the messuage or dwelling house … situate on the Parade in Cheap Street Sherborne and with all the fixtures of the same whether for trade or otherwise to my son James and to his heirs and assignees for ever but chargeable with the payment of an annuity of twenty pounds… to my brother John during the term of his natural life… and I likewise bequeath to my son James all the household goods and furniture plate, linen and china and all the liquors which shall be found at the time of my decease but no part of my stock in trade as that I intend he shall take by purchase at a valuation as hereinafter… to my four daughters I give my pew in the Sherborne Church… whereas my life stands insured in the Equitable Office for the sum of one thousand pounds… and the accumulations which have been added I believe amount to nearly the same … now I give and bequeath the aid policy and all additions and accumulations…unto my four daughters in equal shares also I bequeath to my son Charles the sum of five hundred pounds payable at the decease of his Mother… I bequeath a policy which I have with the Royal Exchange … for the sum of three hundred pounds and all benefit to… unto and equally bequeath my sons James and Charles and my daughter Fanny and as to the messuage or dwelling house and premises wherein I now reside called “Abbey Barns” with the freehold, brasshouse, stable, outhouses and garden thereto adjoining and also the freehold messuage or dwelling house garden and premises next adjoining and now rented of me by Mrs Eastham I give and devise the same unto my esteemed friend the Reverend Ralph Lyon master of the King’s School in Sherborne aforesaid and to his heirs executors and administrators… and suffer my dear wife to have hold and enjoy the same and to receive and have the income and profits thereof to her own use and absolutely during her life she keeping the same in proper repair and from and immediately after her death then upon trust that the said Ralph Lyon, his heirs, executors or administrators do and shall absolutely sell and dispose of all the said houses and premises by public auction or by private… make payment of a legacy of ten pounds to my shopman Richard Ffoot if living with me at the time of my decease as a mark of my regard for his faithful services… the said Ralph Lyon his executors and administrators shall allow my son James who will succeed me in my business to become the purchaser of the whole or any part of my stock in trade as mercer and draper.”
Proved at London 14th December 1836 before the Judge by the oath the Reverend Ralph Lyon, Doctor in Divinity, the sole executor to whom admon was granted having first sworn by commission duly to administer.
Links between North Wootton and Sherborne Ridouts
I have already described that Thomas Gibbs Ridout visited both Charles and James Ridout in their respective home towns of Bristol and Sherborne during the year 1812. His narrative does not inform us of the nature of their relationship but the lack of intimacy in Thomas’s description does not infer that he felt in any way close to these older men.
As stated earlier, Thomas Gibbs Ridout was the grandson of George Ridout the baker. George died in October 1786 and, interestingly, James was involved in the administration of his estate. Below is the signature from the document. James would have been 23:
This is the signature of James Ridout on his marriage to Susannah Parsons on the 9th June 1796…
… which appears to me, perhaps, to be similar to the first signature ten years earlier.
Another co-administrator of George Ridout’s estate was Charles Bull HART, who also witnessed the will of James’s brother John Ridout of North Wootton in 1787 (see above). Charles married Elizabeth Vie on the 11th October 1776; Elizabeth was sister of Jane Vie and therefore Charles was James Ridout Junior’s uncle. Charles died in 1805 and bequeathed a great deal of his estate to his late wife’s nephews and nieces, including Sherborne properties and £1,000 to James, £500 each to Charles Vie and John and other bequests to their sisters Susannah and Elizabeth. One of Hart’s executors was Thomas Ridout, gentleman of Seaborough, Somerset brother of James and Charles Vie; Hart left money to Thomas’s daughter Elizabeth.
So how are the Sherborne and North Wootton Ridout families linked? I started this post by mentioning that Thomas Ridout (1682-1760) was the son of Thomas and Margrett. Arthur Ridout the Victorian genealogists recorded the elder Thomas as son of John Ridout and his wife Alice (neé Toogood). However, I believe that John and Alice’s son Thomas was a cordwainer, baptised in 1667, who went to London, married twice, had children and died in 1734 (click here). So who were the parents of Thomas Ridout of North Wootton who died in 1760? Perhaps I’ll be able to tell you next time!