The Sherborne almshouse register is a fabulous resource for those folk with roots planted deep in this lovely Dorset town. I have only dabbled very superficially amongst this institution’s records, which are kept at the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester. As I live in Wales, to examine even a tiny fraction of this historical treasure, I would have to first travel a considerable distance and then stay in the area for several days. Even then I would do no more than brush the surface so you can imagine my excitement in seeing that someone else had gathered a vast wealth of facts and figures from the collection and put them all neatly into one book for me. Published in 2013 by the Dorset Record Society, ‘The Sherborne Almshouse Register’, edited by Ann Clark, is a very special book in my opinion.
Here is a small section of the Introduction to give you a flavour: “…This collection of records, when pieced together, presents so much more than a mere business record. It provides a window into the management and conduct of the almshouse, together with glimpses of daily life of the residents, over a period of almost four centuries.” I absolutely recommend that you find a copy of this for yourself but, to tease your appetite, I have written below a list of entries for the name Ridout, occasionally expanding slightly to include a few details (there are more). The items are listed under the first name of each subject and the page number(s) on which details about persons of that name can be found. The entries relate either to inmates, that is to say the elderly and infirm men and women who lived in the almshouse, or to the brethren – upstanding gentlemen of Sherborne who administrated the affairs and finances of the charity. Nearly every Sherborne family is named so this is really is a genealogical treasure….
 Mr… p.59
- 13th July 1795. Mr RIDOUT is elected in the room of Mr Sampson BOYS, deceased.
Not clear who this man may have been but he was a ‘brother’ not an inmate.
 Christopher… p.118 (two entries)
- 21st December 1784. Christopher RIDOUT a poor man is chosen in the room of Michael BOWNE, deceased.
- 31st August 1786. Isaac SHERRING is chosen in the room of Christopher RIDOUT, deceased.
 Elizabeth… p.118 (two entries)
- 12th February 1787. Elizabeth RIDOUT, a poor woman is chosen in the room of Mary MOORE, deceased.
- 31st July 1787. Joan MITCHELL, a poor woman, is chosen in the room of Elizabeth RIDOUT, deceased.
Inmates; could this couple be Christopher RIDOUT (b. 1722) and Elizabeth PARKER? Poor Elizabeth only managed to stay in the almshouse for five months but, during that time she would have been well fed and cared for, although probably a bit cold!
 George… p.22 (see John)
 James… p.60 (2 entries)
- 7th February 1832. Mr James RIDOUT the Younger is also elected a brother in the room of Mr Charles WINTER who is also removed from Sherborne and is sworn.
- 6th December 1836. Mr Charles HUTCHINGS is elected a brother of this house in the room of Mr James RIDOUT.
James Ridout the elder was buried on the 2nd September 1836 at Sherborne; hence this entry probably refers to James’ son James (b. 1799) who was ‘the younger’ in 1832, but not after his father had died.
 Jane… pp.128-9
- 5th February 1839. Jane RIDOUT, aged 84, is chosen in the room of Mary FURLONG, deceased aged 91, and was sworn.
- 5th March 1844. Eleanor CHAFFEY, aged 70, is chosen in the room of Jane RIDOUT, deceased aged 89, and was sworn.
An inmate, Jane RIDOUT was born ~1755 but there are no indications as to her place within the Sherborne Ridout clan, if any.
 John… p.22 (2 entries), pp.125-6
- 4th November 1751. Memorandum: The term of six years is expired during which the above mentioned Samuel BERJEW received the £5 yearly pursuant to Dr Highmore’s will. It is agreed that John RIDOUT, son of George RIDOUT of Sherborne of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, shall have the yearly sum of £5 from the 25th March last past.
- 8th June 1753. The above mentioned John RIDOUT had left the university and has vacated the grant given by Dr Highmore. It is agreed that John SHUTTLEWORTH, son of the Reverend Mr Digby SHUTTLEWORTH, of Exeter College, Oxford, shall have and receive the said yearly £5 yearly commencing from Lady Day last.
John Ridout, son of George the baker of Sherborne (b. 1730) who left for the US in 1753. This suggests that John had been already studying for two years when he received this money as he was believed to have matriculated Corpus Christi college at Oxford in 1749. Interesting that the terms of Dr Highmore’s will were that the recipient had to be a ‘poor boy’ recommended by the governors at Sherborne School!
- 29th April 1820. John RIDOUT (aged 66) is this day chosen in the room of James LINKHORNE, deceased aged 78, and was sworn.
- 1st May 1827. James HANHAM, aged 71, is chosen in the room of John RIDOUT, deceased aged 73, and was sworn.
An inmate, this would appear to be the best candidate for my x4 great grandfather, who died at the age of 73 and was buried in Sherborne on the 25th April 1827. He would have been a widower and, if this is the correct man, without family living in Sherborne.
 Mary… pp.111-2
- 8th September 1755. Mary RIDOUT, widow, a poor woman is chosen in the room of — JUSTINS, widow, deceased and is sworn.
- 4th March 1760. Deborah PRIDE a poor woman is chosen into this house in the room of Mary RIDOUT, deceased, and is sworn. She brings in one feather bed, a bolster, a pillow, one blanket and a rug.
Inmate. Highly speculative but, as there are already possibly three individuals down this line living at one time or the other in the Almshouse, could this be Mary SYMONDS, wife of John RIDOUT (b. 1691)? If she had been the same age as John she would have been ~69; if so then John had clearly died beforehand. Mary RIDOUT was buried on the 4th March 1760, the same day as her room was vacated!
 Richard… p.106 (2 entries)
- 23rd November 1732. Richard RYDOUT a poor man was chosen into this house in the room of John LOADEN, deceased, and brings in one hop bolster, one feather pillow, one green rug, one sheet and one bolster cloth, and is sworn.
- 27th December 1733. John RAPSON a poor man is chosen into this house in the room of Richard RIDOUT, deceased, and brings in a flock bed, one rug and one blanket, and is sworn.
Inmate. No indication of who this man was; Richard’s burial was on the 26th December 1733, Richard RIDOUT ‘of the Almshouse’.
 Thomas… pp.20, p.91, p.93
- 5th August 1673. The said £40 was paid into the Almshouse by Hugh HODGES Esq the said testator’s son…. The persons to whom the £40 was distributed are as follows… Thomas RIDOUT………………… 1s 00d.
- 21st March 1688. This day Thomas GAME nominated Thomas RIDOUT, Abraham HOPKINS and George HEBDITCH senior to the company in the room of John MARSHALL deceased. Thomas RIDOUT was chosen and brought in a dust bed, one flock bolster, one feather pillow, one sheet, one rug, one blanket, one dish, one spoon and one cup. And is sworn.
- 4th May 1693. This day Richard CHAUNT was chosen into the house in the room of Thomas RIDOUT, deceased, and brings in a flock bed, a feather bolster, a pair of canvas sheets, a striped rug, a bolster cloth, an earthenware platter, one cup, one dish, one spoon and one trencher. And is sworn.
Inmate. These entries may all refer to one man but there are no obvious indications of who this Thomas was or whether he belonged to the Sherborne RIDOUT clan.
 Walter… pp.10, p.16, p.41, p.44, p.47, pp.91-2
- 19th April 1613. Item it is this day ordered agreed and established by the consent of Lawrence SWETNAM master, John WYNNYFF, Henry STEVENS, Robert ASHBORNE, John WYNCHELL, Walter ALBYN, John FOSTER, Richard COUTHE, William STERR, Walter RYDOWTE, Robert WHETCOMBE, William RYDOWTE, Joseph FORREST and Richard FOSTER, according to former motions in this belief made and agreed upon. That if any brother of this house shall be chosen to be master of this house to execute that office for one whole year and shall refuse the same, shall forfeit and pay for a fine to the use of the poor of this house and to be paid within one month….
- 20th December 1610. The said Lawrence SWETNAM and John CUPPER by one other deed dated the 20 December 1610 conveyed all the premises to Edward KNOYLE esquire, George UVEDALL gentleman, John WYNNYFF, Henry STEVENS, Robert ASHBORNE, Richard WRIGHT, Walter RYDOUTT, William STERR, John WYNCHELL, Richard COUTHE, John HODYNOTT, Walter ALBYN, Peter GAME, Robert WHETCOMBE, Joseph FORREST, William RYDOWTE and Thomas COMPTON gentleman, and their heirs [this relates to the estate of William WOODE who left a will & bequest, dated 10th October 1609].
- ‘Exchequer Action Attorney General v Harding 26 Charles II (1674) No 78 Dorset.
Speaks of land to be employed for the benefit of Sherborne Almhouses held in names of Swetnam & Cupper being granted by Indenture 30th December 8 James I (1613) to among others, Walter Ridout, William Ridout then brethren of the almshouses.’ The William was probably William of Sherborne who became a brother on the 9th February 1606. See also the above two Almshouse records.
- 10th July 1582. ‘A remembrance of the names of the masters and brethren of the Almshouse of St John Baptist and St John the Evangelist in Sherborne taken the 1 July 1582 at which time there was an order taken by the whole company that from that date the names of those admitted into the company together with the dates of their admittance should be registered into this book.’ Included, in the original list, is ‘William RIDOUTE’ [inscribed ‘deceased’]. A second column is written later and includes ‘Walter RYDOTTE’ and William RYDOWTE [latter inscribed ‘deceased’].
The William RIDOUTE in the original list is likely to be William of Chettle and that in the second list perhaps William of Sherborne. As Walter is not deceased at this point, the entries must have been made between 1621 and 1644.
- 7th December 1605. At this day Walter RIDOWTE, gentleman, is chosen a brother in the place of Richard DOWNGTON, deceased.
- 2nd July 1644. This day John DURNFORDE is chosen as a brother into this house in the place of Walter RYDEOT, deceased, and is sworn.
This is Walter, nephew of William RYDOWTE of Chettle (b. 1564) who would therefore have been 41 years old when appointed as a governor. According to a document written by Walter himself, he was expelled from the Almshouse brethren in 1642 after making an unsuccessful protest. Clearly this is not true! Walter was buried in Folke on the 27th October 1643. It took several months to replace him it seems.
- 17th August 1689. Walter RIDOUT was chosen into this house in the room of William KING, deceased, and brought in one bed-tache, one pillow, one sheet, one dish, one spoon and one cup. And is sworn.
- 26th October 1690. Walter HOOPER was chosen into this house in the room of Walter RIDOUT, deceased, and brought in one flock bed, a flock bolster, one coverlet, two blankets, a pair of sheets, one dish, one spoon and a cup.
This Walter Ridout was buried in Sherborne on the 15th October 1690 ‘in the Almshouse.’ There is no clue as to his family or history in the town.
 William… pp.8, 10 (see Walter), pp.15, 16 (see Walter), pp.31, 41 (see Walter), pp.44-5, p.105, p.107, p.112, p.115
- 13th May 1590. It is ordained and established by the master and brethren hereafter named: Thomas BARTON, William POPE, Hugh WHETCOMBE, John WYNNYFF, Jasper FRIDLOCK, Edmond LANE, William RYDOWTE, Henry STEVENS, Thomas SWETNAM, Richard DOWNTON, John WHETCOMBE, Edward POND, John GARDENER, John CUPPER, Ambrose BANWELL, Peter GAME, Edward KNOYLE esquire, George UVEDALE gentleman and Bartholomew OLDE, that when cause shall be ministered and needful for an assembly to be had by the master and brethren: the master for the time being shall cause the prior of the house or other able man of the poor men thereunto to be assigned, to warn all the brethren at their houses, or elsewhere within the limits of the town who may be conveniently spoken to, to repair to this house at an hour by the master to be appointed by the sounding of the bell….
William RYDOWTE was a brother in the original almshouse list in 1582 and is still one in 1590. In fact, there was the 1555/6 lease between William RYDEOWTE and the wardens regarding buildings near the new grammar school [Ref: S235/D1/1/1]. Could this all have been the same man? Was it William of Chettle who died in 1603? If so, he was probably relatively young when he became a governor/brother – unless there was ANOTHER William before him!
- 18th October 1612. The gift of Charles BROKE esquire, October 1612. Memorandum that George ROWKLEY servant of the right worshipful Charles BROKE esquire deceased did deliver to the master of the Almshouse of Sherborne, 18 October 1612 as the gift of Charles BROKE £10 to be employed for any uses of the said town that the master and brethren of the Almshouse shall think most fit and convenient, to be continued in perpetuity. And this was entered in the presence of Laurence SWETNAM master, John WYNNYFF, Henry STEVENS, Walter ALBYN, John FOSTER, Robert WHETCOMBE, William RYDOWTE, Thomas COMPTON, gentleman, Richard FOSTER, Richard COUTH and William STERR.
Was this William Ridout of Sherborne? William of Chettle had died by this time.
- 10th September 1589. ‘A Survey of the lands and tenements of the Almshouse of St John Baptist and St John Evangelist, in the tenures of the persons hereafter named to September 1589.’ ‘Hugh MERE, Alice his wife and John their son hold one close of pasture and meadow beside Mawdlyn (Magdalene at Castleton) containing two acres, fine 30s, rent 6s. [Annotated: The premises being surrendered by Alice and John were afterward granted to William RYDOWTE and surrendered by him are granted to Sir Walter RALEIGH, Dame Elizabeth his wife and Walter their son for the entry fine of £20.’]
Probably William of Chettle. Cross reference to InqPM 1613. “…either assigned or to be assigned divers lands tenements & heriditaments situated in Sherborne Newland & Castleton messuages or respective belonging or pertaining & of & in one pasture in Castleton called Magdalen Acre in occupation of Richard Masters or his assigns”
- 9th February 1606. At this day, William RYDOWTE is chosen a brother into this house in the place of John THORNE, deceased, and is sworn.
- 10th July 1621. This day Robert HODDINOT is chosen a brother into this house in the place of William RIDOUT, deceased, and is sworn.
This would appear to be William RYDOWTE of Sherborne (1554-1621). He was buried in Sherborne on the 30th June 1621. He would have become a brother at the age of 52. Interesting how both he and Walter took on this role following the death of William RYDOWTE of Chettle in 1603.
- 23rd September 1729. William RYDOUT is chosen a poor man into this house in the room of Thomas HODDER, deceased, and brings in one flock bed, one pillow, one rug, a blanket and a sheet, and is sworn.
- 2nd March 1739. Thomas PARRIS a poor man is chosen into this house I the room of William RYDOUT, and is sworn. not ‘deceased’.
- 17th April 1760. William RIDOUT a poor man is chosen into this house in the room of John TALBOT, deceased, and is sworn. He brings in a bed, a bedstead, a blanket and a sheet.
- 27th March 1773. Robert SWYER a poor man is chosen into this house in the room of William RIDOUT, deceased.
There is a burial of William Ridout in Sherborne on the 22nd March 1773. The parish register states simply ‘William Ridout, widower’. The earlier entry, for William who leaves 10 years after entering, does not match any Sherborne burials around that time.