The name may be presumed to have been local, there being two places thus called in that county - one near Plymouth; the other in the parish of Owlscomb, near Honiton.
The first who advanced the family was
STEPHEN RIDGEWAY, who was one of the stewards of the city of Exeter, during the reign of EDWARD IV, in 1466; and mayor thereof in HENRY VII's reign; grandson to whom, in all probability, was
JOHN RIDGEWAY, who purchased from the Mohuns of Dunster the manor of Torre in Devon, and was elected one of the representatives of the city of Exeter in the two parliaments called by Queen Mary.
THOMAS RIDGEWAY, purchased, in 1599, from Sir Edward Seymour, the site of Torre Abbey, in Devon.
His son and heir,
THE RT HON THOMAS RIDGEWAY, was employed in Ireland in a military capacity, in the reign of ELIZABETH I, and planted the first colony in that kingdom.
This gentleman was high sheriff of Devonshire in 1609, and received the honour of knighthood.
At the accession of JAMES I to the throne, he was elected one of the knights of the shire for Devon in the first parliament called by that prince, who continued to employ him in some of the highest places of trust and command in Ireland, and had him sworn of the privy council.
He was advanced to the dignity of baronet in 1612.
In 1616, Sir Thomas was raised to the peerage, as Baron Gallen-Ridgeway.
His lordship was further advanced, in 1622, to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF LONDONDERRY, and Viscount Gallen-Ridgeway.
At the time of the plantation of Ulster, by virtue of a decree by JAMES I, in 1611, Sir Thomas Ridgeway, treasurer-at-war for Ireland, received, in 1613, a grant of 315 acres of land in the barony of Clogher, under an agreement that he should, within four years, settle on a parcel of land called Augher twenty Englishmen or Scots, chiefly artificers and tradesmen, to be incorporated as burgesses and made a body politic within the said four years;
and should set apart convenient places for the site of the town, churchyard, market-place, and public school; he was likewise to assign to the burgesses houses and lands and 30 acres of commons.His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,
Sir Thomas received also, in 1611, the grant of a market and two fairs to be held here; and in 1613, the town and precincts, with the exception of a fort and bawn called Spur Royal castle, which had been erected, were created a borough.
Besides the 315 acres of land on which he was to found the borough, Sir Thomas received a grant of 2,000 acres called Portclare; and according to Pynnar's report in 1619, it appears that, besides the fort and bawn, he had built 16 houses of stone in the town, which were inhabited by English artificers who were burgesses, and had each two acres of land, and commons for their cattle.
ROBERT, 2nd Earl, who married and was succeeded by his son,
WESTON, 3rd Earl, who had issue,
ROBERT, 4th Earl, who married Lucy, daughter of Sir William Jopson Bt and had two daughters, his co-heirs, viz.
LADY LUCY RIDGEWAY, married Arthur, 4th Earl of Donegall;The 4th Earl died in 1714, when all his honours, including the baronetcy, became extinct.
LADY FRANCES RIDGEWAY, married Thomas Pitt, MP for Wilton, created EARL OF LONDONDERRY (2nd creation).
Tor Mohun, the old Ridgeway estate in Devon, was sold, about 1768, by Lord Donegall to Sir Robert Palk Bt.
First published in July, 2012. Londonderry arms courtesy of European Heraldry.