Thursday, 17 September 2020

House of Ridgeway

This family, anciently written RIDGEWAY, alias PEACOCK (alluding to which the old bearing of arms was three peacocks' heads erased), had been in Devon from a very early period, as manifested by the collections of Sir William Pole, the best antiquary of that county.

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, 1466, and Mayor thereof in HENRY VII's reign; grandson to whom, in all probability, was

JOHN RIDGEWAY (c1517-60), 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.

He married Elizabeth, daughter of John Wendford, of Newton Abbot, Devon, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Anne; Margaret. 
Mr Ridgeway was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS RIDGEWAY (1543-98), MP for Dartmouth, 1584, purchased, from Sir Edward Seymour, the site of Torre Abbey, in Devon.

His son and heir, 

SIR THOMAS RIDGEWAY (c1565-1631), MP for Devon, 1604-6, married Cecily, daughter and co-heir of Henry MacWilliam, Maid of Honour to ELIZABETH I, and had issue,
ROBERT, his successor;
Cassandra; Mary.
Mr Ridgeway employed in Ireland in a military capacity during the reign of ELIZABETH I, and planted the first colony in that kingdom.

He was High Sheriff of Devon, 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.

Sir Thomas was advanced to the dignity of Baronet in 1612, designated of Torrington, Devon.

He was raised to the peerage, in 1616, in the dignity of Baron Gallen-Ridgeway.

His lordship was further advanced, in 1622, to the dignities of Viscount Gallen-Ridgeway, of Queen's County, and EARL OF LONDONDERRY.
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.

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. 
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son, 

ROBERT, 2nd Earl (-1641), who espoused, Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir Simon Weston, of Lichfield, Staffordshire, and had issue, three sons and one daughter, of whom

WESTON, 3rd Earl (1620-72), who wedded Martha, daughter of Sir Peter Temple Bt, and had issue,

ROBERT, 4th Earl, who espoused, in 1686, Lucy, daughter of Sir William Jopson Bt and had two daughters, his co-heirs, viz.
LADY LUCY RIDGEWAY, m Arthur, 4th Earl of Donegall; 
His lordship died in 1714, when all his honours (including the baronetcy) expired.

Tor Mohun, the old Ridgeway estate in Devon, was sold by Lord Donegall, ca 1768, to Sir Robert Palk Bt.

  First published in July, 2012.   Londonderry arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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