Origin and Changes Of The Riddle Surname
The following is a slightly edited extract from the book Some More Riddles Of North Carolina by Richard Riddle.
Ridlon (G. T. Ridlon's History of the Ancient Ryedales and Their Descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, From 860 to 1884) states that the surname Riddle appears on the pages of the Doomsday Book and in a variety of forms, such as Ridle, Ridel, and Ridell. We must look to Norway or Normandy for the origin of the name.
The name Riddle is a local type name (makes reference to a locality or territory) from an area in Scandinavia called Rugdal or Ryedale, the valley of rye. Other Riddle historians have postulated that as the name changed from Ryedale and Riddell to Riddle, as it is pronounced by the Scots, it has not lost any of the original meaning. A riddle was an instrument by which rye and other grains were winnowed and cleansed and the change to Ridler and Riddler denotes one who winnows grain with a riddle or sieve.
When the Riddles began lending their name to the land and estates they owned is not precisely known. However it is known that Walter de Ridale received his lands from David I, King of Scotland between 1124 and 1153 and these lands were called "Baronies of Riddell and Whitton." The family branches have followed the early custom of bestowing their names upon their lands whenever and wherever acquired. In Scotland there is a Cranstown-Riddell, Glen-Riddle, Mount-Riddell and Minto-Riddell.
In the United States we find Glen Riddle, Riddle's Banks, Riddle's Station, Riddleton, and Riddle's Crossroads. The surname used by the Riddells of Roxburghshire, Scotland was originally derived from a locale known as Ryedale and their coats-of-arms consists of three ears of rye and sheaves of grain. Nearly all branches of the Scottish families have spelled their name Riddell, however many old documents spell the name as Riddle. Many small family branches in Scotland and England who claim descent from the Ryedale spell their own name Riddle.
The migration of the original Norman family throughout the world has created over 60 different ways the name has been spelled. The following is a small selected list of examples:
READLAN, REDLAN, RHUDDLAN, RIDAL, RIDALE, RIDDALL, RIDDEL, RIDDELL, RIDDELLE, RIDDELS, RIDDLE, RIDDLETON, RIDDLEY, RIDEL, RIDELEIGH, RIDELL, RIDEY, RIDLAND, RIDLE, RIDLER, RIDLEY, RIDLON, RILLY, RUDDELL, RUDDLE, RUGDAL, RYDDLAND, RYDLEY, RYEDALE
For those interested in the book, History of the Ancient Ryedales & Their Descendants in Normandy, Gt. Britain, Ireland & America, 860-1914, comprising the family of Riddell, Riddle, Ridlon, Ridley, etc., by G.T. Ridlon, it can be ordered from Higginson Books. They also carry The Descendants of Edward Riddle (1758-1826) and Margaret McMillan (c.1769-c.1825) by Joan Riddle Giles.
Stokes Co., North Carolina Riddle Family Origins
The information about our early Riddle line has often been confusing and contradictory. We know that three male Riddles appeared in the 1790 Stokes Co., North Carolina Federal census records. Their names were Tyre, John, and Randolph Riddle. Stokes County is located in the Northwest corner of North Carolina.
A recently discovered petition from 1795 located in the Maryland Archives proves that Randolph and John Riddle were the grandsons of John Riddle born 1680 in the present day Washington, DC area and Elizabeth Bowman of Prince George’s Co., Maryland. John Riddle (1680-ca. 1745) was the son of John Riddle (1660-1727) who lived in Cecil Co., Maryland. Strong circumstantial evidence indicates that Tyre Riddle was related to Randolph and John but the connection still remains illusive. Until proven other wise I will consider Tyre the brother of John and Randolph. The petition was filed by Zachariah Riddle of Loudon County, Virginia, a descendant of John Riddle, on behalf of John Riddle's grandchildren.
This petition connects a number of Riddle lines in the Southeast, mostly in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina.
A large amount of information dealing with John Riddle (1680-circa 1745) and his descendants was provided by Stella Cotrill whose web site is, My Lake, Redman, Riddle, Stephens & Connecting Families. Stella has been collecting Riddle family information from various Riddle researchers for years and is the one who notified us about the John Riddle petition.
The John Riddle line (1680-circa 1745), which includes Tyre, John W. and Randolph, may be viewed in our Genealogy Database. Because of privacy concerns living people are not included.
For additional information about the Randolph Riddle line see Bicentennial View of the Randolph Riddle Family below.
The Tyre Riddle line can also be found at Kevin Riddle’s web site Owasco, Missouri Families. Kevin is a descendant of Tyre Riddle and was the originator of the Stokes Co. Riddle web site. He has now returned to the WWW with a site dedicated to not only his Riddle line but also the surnames Berry, Cleaton and Morris from Missouri.
In addition to Kevin's Tyre Riddle web site, Wes Patterson also hosts an additional Tyre Riddle page located at WesPatterson.com. Wes and his family live in the Piedmont foothills of North Carolina and Wes' son is a descendant of Tyre Riddle .
The following is an excerpt from G. T. Ridlon's History of the Ancient Ryedales and Their Descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, From 860 to 1884 (Comprising the Genealogy and Biography, For About One Thousand Years, of the Families of Riddell, Riddle, Ridlon, Ridley, Etc.) page 350. Randolph Riddle's grandson Martin V. Riddle stated to Ridlon that "Randolph Riddle, son of Samuel Riddle, son of Basil Riddle a native of Ireland who early came to America and settled in Virginia, in Accomac County near the Blue Ridge." Ridlon was wrong. Basil Riddle was the son of John Riddle (1708-1794) of Maryland and an uncle of John and Randolph.
From Nettie Lee Benson's newsletter The Riddle Trail, page 23 Vol. IV. "The editor believes that the Riddle men shown in Surry(Stokes) County, North Carolina were relatives of Basil Riddle a native of north Ireland." Page 50, Vol. V, "The John Riddle, b. ca. 1764 and who signs his name is definitely the brother of Randolph Riddle also enumerated."
Riddle DNA Project
There is an ongoing and growing DNA Project for the various spellings of the Riddell surname such as Riddel, Riddle, Ridley, Rydel, Ryedaleat at FamilyTreeDNA.
If you would like to participate in this worldwide project go to FamilyTreeDNA, search for the Riddle surname. The search results will list Riddell Y-DNA, click on it for instructions on how to join. For those who have had a DNA test done by another company you are able to have those results transferred to FamilyTreeDNA.
You can also go directly to the Riddell project here. For more information contact Gail Riddell of New Zealand, the Group Administrator who will enable you to achieve a reasonable discount.
A Little Background Information From Gail
The Riddles and the Riddells are surnames that have intrigued historians since the first family members arrived with William the Conqueror into England around 1066 AD from both France and Normandy (Normandy then being “owned” by the England). Their renowned history and connections is vast and stretches across the European continent — down to as far as Sicily.
As was the custom of the day, if a man showed both loyalty and courage and success in the task he took upon himself at the bequest of his “Lord," thereby giving noteworthy service, he was rewarded with lands and honours. Thus were the beginnings of the RIDELs in both England and Scotland.
A few centuries later, when it was decreed that all men of those two countries should possess a surname, the servants of the men of that name, frequently took his surname as their own. But because the name was pronounced to rhyme with ‘fiddle,' frequently the clerical persons of the time wrote RIDDLE. Even today, the surname continues to be misspelled!
From those two countries, some travelled to Ireland, especially in the 1600s. When things for these intrepid travelers did not improve, they took opportunity (some were sold into slavery — mostly to the Caribbean or to Virginia, America) to voyage even further to the new colonies that were opening up at that time. But equally, there were those who for their own reasons, chose to venture further and today, this surname (or a variation) is found in the continent, South Africa, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
And this is where DNA testing is of invaluable benefit for those seeking accuracy as to their forefathers’ origins.
I am Gail Riddell and I administer the Riddell/Riddle DNA project with Family Tree DNA. If you are interested in learning more about DNA, I invite you to directly contact me at email@example.com.
The Riddle Newsletter deals mostly but not exclusively with the descendants of Tyre, John and Randolph Riddle and was begun by Richard Riddle in 1994. These are PDF files of the original printed newsletters which you can download and save.
• Volume 1 Issue 1 Dec 1994
• Volume 1 Issue 2 Jun 1995
• Volume 2 Issue 1 Dec 1995
• Volume 2 Issue 2 Jun 1996
• Volume 3 Issue 1 Dec 1996
• Volume 3 Issue 2 Jun 1997
• Volume 4 Issue 1 Dec 1997
• Volume 4 Issue 2 Jun 1998
• Volume 5 Issue 1 Dec 1998
• Volume 5 Issue 2 Jun 1999
• Volume 6 Issue 1 Dec 1999
• Volume 6 Issue 2 Jun 2000
• Volume 7 Issue 1 Dec 2000
• Volume 7 Issue 2 Jun 2001
• Volume 8 Issue 1 Dec 2001
• Volume 8 Issue 2 Jun 2002
• Volume 9 Issue 1 Dec 2002
• Volume 9 Issue 2 Jun 2003
Bicentennial View of the Randolph Riddle Family
By: Edward M. Riddle
This page is a speech given by Edward Riddle to celebrate the Andrew Jackson Riddle Family Reunion in Italy, Texas on July 4, 1989. Ed was a third great-grandson of Randolph Riddle.
EDWARD MAURICE RIDDLE, 81, of Georgetown died on March 18, 2005, in Georgetown,Texas. He was born on August 26,1923 in Abbott, Texas to Lester and Mary Elsie Stone Riddle. On July 24,1948 he married Dorothy Jean Askew in Ft.Worth,Texas. He has a BS in Engineering from Texas A&M University. He retired from Houston Industries in Houston,Texas. He was a member and past elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Georgetown. He enjoyed square dancing and the computer. Mr. Riddle was an author of genealogy books including One Riddle Family and Stone Genealogy. He leaves his wife, Dorothy Riddle of Georgetown, his children, Christie Fisher and Wesley Riddle both of Round Rock,Texas and his grandchildren;Kathleen, Kevin and Lori Fisher and Rebecca and Stephen Riddle. The Funeral Service will he held on Monday, March 21,2005 at 2:00P.M. at the First Presbyterian Church,703 S. Church, Georgetown with Dr. Michael Roberts officiating. Private Burial will precede the service.
Published in the Houston Chronicle on 3/20/2005.
The accompanying page is a list of researchers who are researching Riddle lines not related to the Stokes Co. Riddle family.
If you are a descendant of William T. Riddle (The Tory) 1740-1781 you will find a number of your cousin's listed.
Click here for information about these researchers. If you would like to be added to the list please let me know.
In addition to the above list of Riddle Researchers we now have a list of "Orphaned" Riddle Families that was compiled by Cathy Riddle O'Connor from queries submitted to the Riddle Family Discussion Mailing List. To see the complete list click here.
The following are links to other Riddle family Web Pages. Be sure and pay them a visit.
• Riddle-Young - Scott Ian Riddle Whitney
• Relatives of Trudy Petitt & Florence Hall
• The Damron/Dimbat Homepage - Lori Dimbat
• Solving the Riddles - Danny Riddle
• The Anderson Connection - James J. Anderson
• Owasco, Missouri Families - Kevin Riddle
• For something a little different visit Danny Riddle's Gospel Music site. The following is a brief intro from Danny's site: I have been performing since the age of 15, recording my initial 45 single at that time. I recorded my first full length LP at the age of 18. Other recordings followed through the age of 28. I also hosted Reach Out, a radio show that aired on several stations in Central Florida for over 10 years. Reach Out provided it's listeners a way to get to know local and well-known gospel artists through interviews and songs.
A Few Helpful Genealogy Links
• Stokes County North Carolina Genealogy
• North Carolina Vital Records Information
• Riddell Family Genealogy Forum
• Riddle Family Genealogy Forum
• Riddles Family Genealogy Forum
• The Spivey Mountain Cemetery Project
Descendant E-mail Addresses
Tyre Riddle Line:
• Kevin Riddle
• Michael Riddle
• Wes Patterson
• Cynthia Craven
• Jenny West
• Lori Dimbat
• Grace Howington
• Faye Riddle Bocock
• Robert & Carol Allen
• Randy Riddle
John Riddle Line:
• Jim Hartung
• Shirley Anne Riddle Wilmoth
• Janice Allen Bertram
• Mark Feldman
• Lynette Carlisle Riddle
• Diane Dunn
• Cher Stevenson
• Leila Walsh
Randolph Riddle Line:
• Eva Lou Whitehead
• David Riddle
• Mary Elizabeth Terry
• Linda Faulkner Coleman