Origins of the Clan

One theory for the origin of the name “Riddell” suggests that a family from Gascony, France may have come to Scotland via Ryedale in Yorkshire. It is much more likely, however, that the name is of Norman origin.

The first record of the name Riddell was found in Northumberland where they were seated from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord ,for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Gervase Ridale was a witness to a charter of King David I of Scotland in 1116, and his son, Walter, received a charter of the lands of Lilliesleaf in Roxburghshire. One of his nephews was hostage for William the Lion who had been taken prisoner by the English at the Battle of Alnwick in 1174. Riddells also acquired the lands of Swinburn in Northumberland. The lands were subsequently erected into a barony of Riddell. Sir William Riddell of Riddell swore fealty to King Edward I of England for his lands in the Ragman Rolls of 1296.



17th Century, Eighty Years’ War & Civil War

Eighty Years’ War

Sir John Riddell was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia on 14 May 1628, and his lands were erected into the barony and regality of New Riddell. Sir John’s third son, William, was knighted by Charles I and later served in the Eighty Years’ War also known as the Netherlands’ War of Independence. The Reverend Archibald Riddell, the third son of the second Baronet, was a minister of the reformed church in Edinburgh who was persecuted and imprisoned because he would not renounce his Covenanter beliefs; unlike many others, however, he escaped with his life. Sir John Buchanan Riddell, MP for Selkirk, married in 1805 the eldest daughter of the Earl of Romney. In September 1998 the 13th Baronet, Sir John, was recognised by the Lord Lyon as Chief of the name.

Scotland in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms

John Riddel, a prominent seventeenth-century Edinburgh merchant, claimed descent from Galfridus de Ridel. He amassed great wealth from the trade across the Baltic, particularly with Poland, and he became a free burgess of Scotland’s capital. His son acquired extensive lands near Linlithgow. During the Civil War he is said to have intrigued with the forces of Oliver Cromwell, becoming a close friend of General Monck. He is credited with having persuaded the general to restore the ancient parish church of South Leith, which Cromwell had ordered to be used as a stable for his troopers. One of Edinburgh’s finest churches, it still bears some of the scars of the Parliamentarian troops’ occupation.



18th to 20th Century

Two generations later, this family acquired the extensive Argyll estate of Ardnamurchan and Sunart. Sir James Riddell, first Baronet of Ardnamurchan, received his title in September 1778. He was superintendent general to the Society of British Fishery and a Fellow of the Society of Arts and Sciences. Sir Rodney Riddell, the fourth and last Baronet, was a distinguished professional soldier who campaigned in New Zealand and during the Afghan War of 1878 to 1880. He died in 1907 and the title became extinct. In 1920, Sir George Riddell of Duns, a prominent newspaper proprietor who had represented the British press at the Versailles peace conference of 1919 was raised to the peerage as Baron Riddell.



Clan Chief

The current Chief of Clan Riddell is Sir John Riddell.



Clan Profile

      Arms: Argent, a chevron Gules between three ears of rye, slipped and bladed Proper

      Crest: A demi greyhound Proper

      Motto: I hope to share

      Supporters: Two greyhounds Argent collared Gules

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