Giles Ridout of Virginia or John Ridout of Sherborne (b.1699)?

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people in the US who descend from a chap called Giles Ridout of Virginia. Giles, reputedly a sailor, boarded HM Ship Ludlow Castle which left Kent (Deal) on the 15th October 1728 and docked at Virginia on Sunday the 27th March 1729. The ship had been commissioned for secret service, whatever that implied.

According to what I have been told, once in Virginia Giles married a lady called Frances in ~1730 and they had children: Mary (bn. 20th May 1732, bp. 18th Jun), William (bn. 10th Jul 1740, bp. 31st Aug) and Giles Ridout (bn. 8th Feb 1744, bp. 13th Mar 1744, bur. Sep 1744) (York County Parish Records). Giles & Frances moved with their family to Dinwiddie County in about 1745, said to be at about the time of son John’s birth, although there is no formal record for this boy as far as I know. Giles and his wife died before 1752,  and their children, still minors, were allegedly taken by the County Court to be raised.

These descendants of Giles Ridout of Virginia generally believe their earliest ancestor to be Giles Ridout of Henstridge, Somerset (1600-~1646) and, indeed, as my blog post shows, there is a well documented line from him down to Giles (bn. 1699) in London and it is the latter that some people believe to have emigrated in 1728 (for which purpose I have discovered that he would have had to abandon his wife Hannah and their children Giles and Maria, which I think was unlikely to be true).

As some readers may know, a few years ago I started a Rid(e)out one name yDNA study in an attempt to ‘fit’ some branches of Ridouts and Rideouts into one or more larger trees. Two of the early project members descend from John Ridout (b.1745), son of Giles; their yDNA sequences shared 36/37 STRs (markers) and one of the men also matched identically to three members of the project shown, genetically and on paper, to descend from George Ridout (b.1701) of Sherborne. I have written a good deal about George, son of Christopher Ridout of Sherborne (1669-1743) miller and baker, great great grandson of William Rydowte of Hyle (1554-1621), my x10 great grandfather.

Recently a new chap joined our FTDNA project and he has a reasonably well documented descent from David Ridout; he also has an identical yDNA sequence to the Sherborne Ridouts and so matches one of the other two descendants of Giles of Virginia. So all three men descend, down different lines, from John of Dinwiddie; this shows that the ‘odd man out’ must have one common mutation in his own line, without which he too would match the Sherborne Ridouts.

FTDNA results show that when two men have an identical match of 37/37 markers the probability of their having a common ancestor about four generations back is 83%. However, if a paper trail shows that these two men cannot be that closely related then the probability is that their common ancestor being within eight generations is a massive 97%. To give a practical example: suppose that Giles the Virginian was actually a son of Christopher Ridout, and hence a brother of George Ridout, he is alive about eight generations or less from these three FTDNA members. One of the men pointed out to me that, since there is no history of a man named Giles Ridout in my Sherborne family, Giles probably didn’t come from Sherborne. My personal feeling is that the DNA results suggest otherwise but I realise that I had to at least try and find some evidence of a man called Giles Ridout living in the appropriate time frame as a member of the known Sherborne branch; as my family is so well documented the mission seemed impossible.

I’ve always been aware that there was another man who left England to start a new life in America; we know very little about him but time wise he who would be an ideal candidate for Giles… on the 4th July 1699 a boy named John was baptised in Sherborne Abbey, the firstborn son of Christopher Ridout by his wife Mary Glover. Unlike his brother George, about whom so much has been written, all I know about John is that he’d ‘sailed to America as a consequence of a disappointment in love’, had married there and hadn’t returned. Could he actually have been called Giles? Had there been an error in the parish register entry? Did he change his name from John to Giles? Interesting theories perhaps but I knew that I’d have to do better than that if I was to convince anyone to look elsewhere for their roots! In the event, the strongest evidence to date came from an unexpected source…

John Ridout’s nephew, also John (bn. 1730) was George Ridout the baker’s son. A clever young chap, John was chosen in 1753 to be secretary to the newly appointed governor of Maryland, Horatio Sharpe; the 23yr old student was recommended by Horatio’s brother Gregory Sharpe who’d been John’s tutor at Oxford University. [Horatio and John sailed together to Maryland, arriving in August 1753. Eventually, through a quirk of fate John inherited Sharpe’s Whitehall estate in Annapolis and became the eleventh wealthiest man in Maryland]. The ‘Oxford Alumni 1500-1886’ records:

‘Ridout, John s. George of Sherborne, Dorset pleb. Corpus Christi Coll. matric. 9 March 1748/49 aged 18. BA 1753.’

John also attended Sherborne School [he received a bursary at Oxford from Dr Nathaniel Highmore which was only granted to boys on the recommendation of the governors of Sherborne School] and would have entered at about the age of 10 but there is no record of him in my volume  of The Sherborne (School) Register (2nd ed.), published 1900)…

…and then there was an entirely, unbelievably timely surprise a couple of days ago… I was looking at a pile of papers that I’d been given by a fellow researcher; he did not belong to the Sherborne Ridout family and therefore would not have seen the significance of what he’d recorded. Many years ago he’d made a transcription of Ridout entries from the The Sherborne Register (4th ed.), published in 1950; this edition alone includes details of pupils who did not appear in what had survived of the School’s registers but had, according to a long standing tradition at Sherborne, inscribed their names and year of entry to the school on the stonework and ancient wood panelling of the former school room; such entries were marked in the book with an asterisk. The author had taken it on himself to record all of these boys’ names, which must have been a labour of love since there are many hundreds of carvings on the walls of this fairly large old room. Each entry in the book was appended with what was known of the subject at the time. There was one entry for 1740 which I think provides a clue to our mysterious Giles:

* ‘1740. John Giles Ridout, perhaps son of George Ridout, baker, of Butcher’s Row, near the Conduit, Sherborne; b.1730; Corpus Christi College, Oxford, matriculated 22 November 1748, aged 18; BA 1753’.

So George’s son John, for whatever reason, called himself John Giles. Why? Like Giles, John emigrated to America to start a new life; leaving England for Maryland not long after Giles had died in neighbouring Virginia. John was born the year after Giles had emigrated, but neither boy nor man was christened with a middle name Giles – why would either of them assume a middle name at all? Oddly enough, in 1757 George and his second wife had a son and christened him John Gibbs Ridout, the only one of George’s ten children to officially be given a middle name at all! So, was George’s brother, John Ridout, actually known in the family as John Giles too? When he started off for his new life in America did he drop his first name in favour of a middle name, a common practice even today? I can’t prove it but at least I can say in all honesty that I HAVE found a man in the Sherborne family who used the named Giles – and I think that his uncle did too.


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14 Responses to Giles Ridout of Virginia or John Ridout of Sherborne (b.1699)?

  1. Fabulous job, as per your usual, Karen. Thanks. [You really should be a RIDEOUT.]

    • Prevaricat says:

      Hi Professor Eugene… Thank you for your kind comment (I will stick with being a RIDOUT for the time being though 🙂 ) Incidentally, why has your blog disappeared? I enjoyed reading the stories from your life 😦 K

      • Thanks for this, Karen.

        I had put it back to draft format because I was having a problem with my blog. There was a very stick “Menu” that kept showing up in black and white at the very top of every page.

        I already had my normal menu on the right of each page.I only just managed to get rid of the spare. Thanks for your very timely reminder, as a result of which, it’s open again. 🙂🙂🙂

      • Prevaricat says:

        I read one post but then still coukdn’t open any others…. gremlins!! 😕

  2. Dave Ridout says:

    Hi Karen, wow, very compelling. You may very well have hit it on the head ! I am curious … when the school inscription included the specific phrase “perhaps son of George Ridout”, is that coming from the author’s guess as to who John Giles was or was that copied from the 1950 edition ? Also, where does the story of a John Ridout and his disappointment in love originate ? Regards, Dave

    • Prevaricat says:

      Hi Dave

      As far as I understand it, as and when a pupil came into the school he was entered into the register but some of the books are clearly no longer in existence. However, all pupils sort of ‘entered’ themselves too by inscribing their names and year on the school room wall when they started. There must have been other ways in which the author could identify the pedigree as even I didn’t know that George had premises near The Conduit! Of course the year of entry also matches the year we know John that must have started at Sherborne and there were no other candidates of the correct age who it could have been. The route from Sherborne School to University was pretty standard – in at 10 and off to Oxford or Cambridge at 18.

      As for John’s uncle John and his hasty exit from England, I don’t know the original source but it is often referred to in early family documents and text books. For example it was discussed in a 19th C in family letter between members. I can’t say more than that; I’m guessing that it would have been rather scandalous at the time.

      I know that you may feel a tad sceptical about all this, which is fine, but personally I think when you look at all the evidence and the genetics together it does seem quite plausible. I will try and find out more… for a start I’m going to London at some point to examine the ship’s logs for 1728/9 in case there’s mention of Giles 🙂

      Regards, Karen

  3. John Thorpe Richards, Jr says:

    Dear Karen,
    Thank you so much for all the hard work you have done to make all of the materials you have available. I am John Richards, am an the current owner of Ridout House in Annapolis, which has been in our family since it was John Ridout purchased the plot of land on February 23, 1764. I know you were acquainted with my cousin Lanny Ridout. At some point I would love to share with you some information about my 5th Great Grandfather.

    I have bargained with my wife to include a pilgrimage to Sherborne as part of trip to Ireland and England we are about to embark upon. To my knowledge this will be the first visit to Sherborne of my branch of the John Ridout family (the in town Ridouts of Annapolis) since he left for America in 1753. (Lanny as you know considered his trip there one of his life’s great experiences). Any suggestions you may have for the planned week in Dorset would be most appreciated! jtr

    • Prevaricat says:

      Hi John… thanks you for your kind comments and I’m glad that you have found my site (I’m not pushing this as I make no money at all from it) but, if you already know, there is also a book the link to which you can find within the blog somewhere… it contains more information than I’ve put online.

      Naturally, given your family history and the fact that you live where you do I would have thought that a visit to Sherborne was pretty much obligatory… it is a charming town and, in many ways, unchanged from our ancestors’ times… the Abbey in which most Ridouts were baptised, married and buried for hundreds of years; the School in which many of the boys were educated; the Almshouse where some ancestors not only lived but, more fortunate ones worked as brethren; even the Mill where three generations worked as millers and bakers… you can see all of these buildings, mostly still as they were and still functioning (although not the mill).

      When do you plan to visit? I haven’t been to Sherborne for some while and might consider travelling from Wales to meet you and stay a night… can’t promise to be available at the moment, but I met Lanny all those years ago and I’ve had the pleasure of guiding others of our extended family who came from the US to visit their ancestral town 🙂

      Kind Regards, Karen

      • John Thorpe Richards, Jr says:

        Sorry not to reply sooner. Been on the road. My wife and I leave Ireland tomorrow for Sherborne where we will be staying Through Friday night. We would love to see you!

      • Prevaricat says:

        Hi John… I’m really sorry but I can’t travel down at that short a notice… it would be too complicated and expensive (I live Wales) for me. I hope you enjoy your stay.

        If you’re going to Sherborne you must see: St John’s Almshouse, Sherborne Abbey, Sherborne School (just behind the Abbey) and Ridout’s Mill (West Mill), which is beyond Hyle Farm. All of these relate to our family and can be referenced in this blog (and my book, which contains extra information). If you like I could mark these places on a map and post it here? Also, if you need accommodation a good friend of mine runs The Bakehouse – this is very close to the first three sites.

        Kind Regards, Karen

    • John Metzgar says:

      Wonderful to know the house is still in the family! I’ve been to the Ridout house (just the outside) and have been to Whitehall. Would love to hear more about your family as a Virginia Ridout myself!

  4. John Thorpe Richards, Jr says:

    So Sorry to miss you! (Should have mentioned that I am carrying a copy of your wonderful book–I think I got one of the original copies). I really should have done a better job of planning/communicating. We have been consumed with Weddings. First that of my niece, Elizabeth Struse, the last of the current generation of our branch of the Ridouts to be married at St. Ann’s and Ridout House in Annapolis. Then my brother in law here in Cork this weekend.

    We will certainly want to make at point of going to all the spots you suggest, and would love to see the map.

    I also hope that there will be some way to talk my way into the school to search for the carved name recorded in the Sherborne Register.

    I am also most interested in tracking down what can be found about John’s sister Betsy, who came to Maryland in 1764, but returned to Sherborne and married George Ward of Bruton, “the greatest silk throwster in the west of England” employing “one thousand people.” Matilda Edgar, Ten Years of Upper Canada at 78 (1890). I have a copy from the Archives of Ontario of the letter she wrote home upon her arrival to America sent to Mary (Fisher) Smith (c.1717-1791), the wife of the Rev. Peter Smith, M.A. (1719-1776), as well as a few others from our family collection, and only wish I could find some more….

    Have you seen the History of Corpus Christi College which list John Ridout as a Chorister entering in 1748?
    All the best. jtr

  5. Prevaricat says:

    John… I sent a map to your email address along with some notes… I received your out of office reply… if you can’t access your account in the UK let me know here and I will post on this site. Cheers, Karen

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