The personal origin comes from the Ridels who came from Gascony, in south-west France, whereas the territorial surname, de Rydale, came from a wapentake (an old English administrative meeting place) in the North Riding area of Yorkshire. The two versions of the name appeared in Scotland almost at identical times, and the only way the families are distinguished is through the spellings, which, at that early date in recorded history, is considered rather remarkable since names rarely were spelled the same way consistenly. The Ridels of Gascony never put the de (meaning ‘of’) prefix in front of their surname as it was personal, however, the de Rydales, evidentally, did because the name was taken from where the lived.
It is thought that Gervasius Ridel was the first Ridel of Craneston (as in Cranstoun-Riddell in Midlothian), as he was recorded, around 1124, as being a witness in the Inquisitio of Earl David in regards to the lands of the church of Glasgow, and Gervasius was also likely to have been a descendant of the Galfridus Ridel de Blaye of 1048. At that point the surname was only a personal one in Normandy.
During the reigns of both Alexander I and David I, Gervasius was recorded as being a witness of charters.
Walter de Ridale, or Riddale, was the first of the Riddells of that Ilk, and he received a charter, sometime around 1150, from King David, for the lands of Whitimes (a mispelling for Whitune), Eschetho (to which he transferred the name of his Yorkshire property), and Lilislive (which is now Lilliesleaf). Walter also appears in the records as a witness to many charters signed in Dryburgh, Holyrood, Glasgow, Newbattle, Cambuskenneth, Dunfermline, and a number of other places. When Walter died, around 1155, he did not have any children, so his property was left to his brother Anschetil or Ansketil de Riddel through a will which was confirmed by Pope Adrian IV.
For twenty-five generations the barony remained in the possession of Anschetil’s descendants, up until the year 1819.
The arms of this family depict a chevron between three ears of rye, which indicates that they refer to the old version of their surname, “Rydale”, thus making them ‘allusive arms’, meaning that they suggest the family’s name.
There are many individuals of this name recorded as land holders and charter witnesses in the 1200s and 1300s.
One of the more distinguished people in later years of this name is Captain Robert Riddell of Glenriddell (1755-1794), a friend and early patron of poet Robert Burns.
In 1622, the surname gave name to Riddelstoun in Ayrshire.
In 2010 the chief Sir John Riddell of the Ilk passed away, and his son, Walter John Buchanan Riddell, became the new chief of the Clan Riddell.