Select Ryder Surname Genealogy

One origin of the Ryder surname is the place-name Ryther in north Yorkshire between Selby and Tadcaster.  This gave rise to the medieval Ryther family where the spelling became Ryder in the 16th century.

Ryder could also have been the name for a messenger or a mounted warrior - from the Old English word ridere, meaning “to ride,” or from the old German word rutter of similar meaning.  An old song went as follows: 

“Rutterkyn has come into our town
In a cloak without coat or gown
Save a rugged hood to cover his crown
Like a rider.”

The main spellings today are Ryder and Rider.  German and Dutch equivalent names are Ridder and Ritter.  The name here may also have originated from an area known as Reiderland on the German/Dutch border

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England.  The Ryther family in Yorkshire, based initially at Ryther near Selby, dated back to the mid-12th century.

“Walter de Rythre witnessed a charter of Alice de St Quintin to Nun Appleton priory around the years 1148-61, the date being after the death of the grantor's first husband and at the latest before the death of archbishop Theobald who had confirmed the gift.”

.  His line produced knights, including a Crusader knight, and barons of the realm.  Sir William Ryther who died in 1440 was several times Sheriff of Yorkshire.

In 1563 the family estates devolved to James Ryther, a distant cousin who had been born in Kent and brought up in Northamptonshire.  However, his Catholic sympathies made him unpopular in Yorkshire and he ended up indebted and in prison where he died in 1595.  There were two related lines who adopted the Ryder name and had better fortunes:
  • one line led to William Ryder who was Lord Mayor of London in 1600.  He held London for Queen Elizabeth against the rebellion of the Earl of Essex and was rewarded with a knighthood.  He died without surviving male issue.
  • another line led to John Ryder, also in royal favor.  He moved to Ireland in 1597 where he became Dean of St. Patrick’s in Dublin and later the Anglican Bishop of Killahoe.
Ryders.  Ryther became Ryder in the 16th century also at Epworth in Lincolnshire, Newbury in Berkshire, and Wisbech in Cambridgeshire.  The Rev. Dudley Ryder from Wisbech lost his estate in 1661 when as a nonconformist minister he was ejected from his living at Bedworth in Warwickshire for refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance.  His two sons became tradesmen, one in Warwickshire and the other in London; his grandson Dudley later rose to high eminence.

Dudley Ryder, the second son of a London draper, was a lawyer and MP who became the Attorney General in 1737 and was the forebear of the Ryders of Harrowby Hall in Lincolnshire.  He was offered a peerage in 1756, but died the following day.  A later Dudley Ryder, a political supporter of William Pitt, served as his Foreign Secretary and was made Earl Harrowby in 1809.  His family seat was at Sandon House in Staffordshire.  There were some distinguished Ryders in this family in the 19th century. 

Ryder has remained very much a north of England name.  Some 40% of the Ryders were to be found in Lancashire and Yorkshire in the 1891 English census.  The spelling in Lancashire was invariably Ryder.  In Yorkshire it was about 50/50 Ryder and Rider. 

One Ryder family resided at Blackley near Manchester in the 18th century and were prominent bleachers of wool and cotton.  The first of these Ryders was Robert Ryder who moved into the area with his family in 1717.  A later Robert Ryder started his bleachworks at nearby Bradford in 1780.  Thomas Ryder was listed as an iron founderer in the 1772 directory for Manchester and Salford.  It appears that he came originally from Great Budworth in Cheshire.

Ryders and Riders in America could be of Dutch, English, German, or Irish origin.

Dutch.  Some early Ryders in America were Dutch.  Peter Hollander Ridder, as the name suggests, was the Dutch-born governor of the Swedish colony of New Sweden in Delaware from 1640 to 1643.  Barent Ryder from Reiderland emigrated to New Amsterdam in 1658 and was a Justice of the Peace in Brooklyn, New York in the late 1600’s.  His descendants were to be found on East 28th Street in Brooklyn until the late 19th century, as well as elsewhere in New York state.

Samuel Ryder and his family lived on the Dutch Van Rennsselaer estate in eastern New York in the late 1700’s.  His son David migrated to new lands in Livonia township, Michigan in the 1820’s.  Alfred and John Ryder, both born there, perished in the Civil War.  Another pioneer to Michigan was Joseph Rider, born in New York of Dutch roots, who had come via Pennsylvania to Michigan in 1833, settling in Genoa township.  He and his wife Isabella raised ten children there.

English.  Samuel Ryder from Buckinghamshire in England was first recorded at Yarmouth on Cape Cod in 1639.  His descendants often adopted the Rider spelling.  Many of these Riders were seamen (Thomas Rider drowned at sea in 1778).  The line was covered in Fremont Rider’s 1959 book Genealogy of Rider (Ryder) Families.

According to family lore, John Rider was the son of one of three Rider brothers who had come from England in the 17th century.  John himself was born in 1698 and made his home on the eastern shore of Maryland.  He allegedly lived to be a hundred.  His descendants settled in Bath county, Virginia.  Gordon Ryder’s 1993 book The Rider-Ryder Family from Virginia reviewed the Bath county line.

GermanRider has been the more common spelling in Pennsylvania.  Many of these have been of German origin.  Here the early spelling was Reider or Reiter, as with Heinrich Reiter who came to Pennsylvania from Germany in 1732.  Later Riders farmed in Columbia county.  Lloyd Rider was a veteran of the Civil War.  Also of German origin was Michael Rider who came to Fayette county to farm in the 1830’s.  Meanwhile Wilhelm Reyder became William Rider in Texas after he immigrated there in 1846.

Irish.   Andrew and Mary Ryder came to America from Ireland in 1833 and later settled in Illinois.  Peter and Elizabeth Rider were also Irish immigrants, first to Pittsburgh and then in 1851 to Iowa.

.  Solomon Ryder was a sea captain who was thought to have migrated from Massachusetts to the Argyle region of Nova Scotia sometime in the 1780’s.  His son John was a Yarmouth merchant engaged in West Indies trade, a shipbuilder, and a local politician

Australia and New Zealand.  William Ryder from London tried his luck in the Australian goldfields and then emigrated in 1854 with his new wife to New Zealand.  They made their home at Riwaka in Nelson, SI.  He and his sons were butchers there later.  A Ryder descendant penned memories of the old homestead in 1960.

Select Ryder Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Ryder Names

Sir Dudley Ryder
, appointed Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench in 1754, was the forebear of the Ryder peers of Harrowby.
Samuel Ryder was an English businessman and golf enthusiast who donated the cup for the first Ryder Cup golf contest between Britain and America in 1927. 
Jim Ryder founded the American truck rental company Ryder in Florida in 1933. 
Sue Ryder from Leeds in Yorkshire developed the Sue Ryder charities of homes and hospices after World War Two for those displaced or later for those with life-threatening illnesses.
Winona Ryder, born Winona Horowitz, is a well-known American actress.

Select Ryders Today
  • 14,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 13,000 in America (most numerous in New York) 
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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