Somerset & Dorset Family History Society
SDFHS member, Karen Francis, describes how she started investigating her Ridout ancestors and encourages other family historians to publish their research so that it can be preserved.
Reg and Elsie Ridout. Photograph taken about 1916.
In March 2004, I decided to find out a bit about my maternal grandparents, Reg and Elsie Ridout. I started off with what I knew: Reg had run a fish and chip shop at 38a Kingsmead Street in Bath; Elsie smelt of lavender and baked gorgeous chocolate cake. Not exactly a lot to go on, but what do children ever really know about their grandparents? Well, my mother knew her grandfather’s name, which was John Arthur Ridout, and that he died in 1953, the year my two year old self met him. I dimly remember a tall man, wearing brown tweeds, folded awkwardly into an armchair like a stick insect; he offered me a Cadbury’s chocolate biscuit, which my pudgy…
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I’ve taken a break the past several years from genealogy but with all of the “new” information that’s recently been made available; it would seem that I’ve picked a good time to resume my search. I just discovered your fantastic blog and am now signed up to follow. Thanks for all your dedicated work!
My branch of the Ridout family has lived around the Toronto Canada area since 1910. (We’re NOT direct descendants of the Ridouts who arrived in the area via Maryland, c 1790s). I started to make a serious search of my ancestors in 1999. I knew that my Ridout great-grandparents lived in the Battersea area (Wandsworth, London) from about the 1880s onward. One of their sons, Frank Howard Ridout settled in Toronto just before WWI. That’s my grandfather. Granddad fought in the First World War and that greatly compromised his health. He died age 39 in 1926 leaving his widow to bring 6 children up on her own. I’m sure that there would have been a lot more oral history that could have been retold, had he lived longer. Some tantalizing snippets were passed on though and I’ve been able to verify and expand on many of them.
I thought that I would be able to trace the Ridout name of my Battersea great-grandparents back a few generations and hopefully find a link to the Ridouts of Sherborne Dorset. I was whisked away on a fantastic journey into the past and I was able to trace a line back to 1400 and prior! BUT that line wasn’t the Ridout lineage. It was Umfreville. Now Ridout is not a common name but Umfreville is several hundred times less common, I suspect. So I caught a break there and have uncovered much information and have been in touch with Umfrevilles and other Ridouts who have the Umfreville connection. All the fantastical family tales that had been passed on were mostly related to our Umfreville ancestors.
I discovered that my Ridout great-grandparents Roland (a scientist who published papers as R.H. Ridout) and Fanny were first cousins and that they shared a set of grandparents, Edward and Elizabeth Umfreville. My Umfreville 3X great-grandparents raised a family in Birmingham, Warwickshire in the period 1810 to 1830 roughly. They had 5 surviving children out of seven. Their last born, Amelia Umfreville b. 1823, married Mark James Ridout in the 1840s. (Amelia & Mark known as artists/Japanners) Unfortunately Mark Ridout bolted for Australia during the 1850s gold rush, never to return. Amelia was left to bring up their 2 little boys Roland and Edmund Ridout on her own. That’s probably one of the main reasons we don’t know much about Mark Ridout’s beginnings – we only know the name of his father. Mark’s father was a Joseph Ridout who I believe at one time was described as a fishmonger in Birmingham. I’m guessing that Joseph Ridout was born around 1780 to 1795. There were a few other Ridouts in Birmingham around 1800, but I’ve never been able to trace my 3X great-grandfather Joseph Ridout to the more prominent Ridouts in Birmingham at that time and I don’t know whether he was born there or how he ended up in Birmingham. Some have speculated that Joseph Ridout or his parents made there way to Birmingham by way of Rugby, Coventry etc from Dorset. I’ve never managed to uncover anything that linked my ancestor to Ridouts in either of those locations. But I hope that through your site and with the help of others here (I just ordered your book btw) I will solve the mystery of my Joseph Ridout and perhaps discover that I am the 9th cousin thrice removed from some other present-day Toronto Ridouts who are descended from the Ridouts who settled in Toronto c 1790s.
Thank you for your comments. I have to admit to not knowing of your London or Birmingham Ridout families before this but, having my own in both towns, find your history about Joseph very interesting. I have been digging around in the past day or so and will reply to you tomorrow by email, although I doubt I’ll have much information that you don’t already have but it’ll be nice to compare notes 🙂