Notable Risdons then and now

This document commences at the conclusion of the Risdon Dynasty document. This will be a list of Risdons of any note between the fifteenth century and the present day; it consists of a brief biography, with a link to a more detailed page where appropriate. Unless categorically stated, there is no hitherto proven direct link between me and any of these individuals, but conversely, there is a very high degree of probability that I am related to all of them, however convoluted that ancestral line might prove to be (if I ever succeed in doing that!).

To begin with, as explained, there were five generations of relatively obscure Risdons living at the house or estate called Bableigh, in the parish of Parkham, north Devon, between around 1393 and 1564, when the grant of arms was made to Giles, scion of the fourth generation, John Risdon, who died on the 12th of April 1518, in the reign of Henry VIII. Giles was married twice, and was the progenitor thereby of 13 children: the first time to Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Thomas Bremelcomb of Honeychurch, Devon – she was buried on the 19th of June 1549 at Parkham; he wed his second wife, Phillip[a], on the 9th of February 1550 at Parkham. The arms were probably granted to Giles at the instigation of his first son and heir, Thomas. Giles lived to the ripe old age of 90, which is somewhat unexpected for those times. Although not as much is known about him as his sons & grandsons, there is a record of a property transaction in Devon in his name, which you can read on the Bableigh|Parkham page.

Six of the first seven of Giles’s sons all attended the same locus of the legal profession, and occasionally uncomfortable bastion of the English Establishment, the Inner Temple, in the City of London. For the third entry, I have combined together two of his sons who did not go there, but the reasons for that will be very clear when reading their biographies, limited though they are. Most of the sources for the entries for all these men are accessible in the public domain, but occasionally they are supplemented by alternative sources, which are detailed in the source notes to the side. After these first seven, the entries will become more variegated, but none the less interesting (to me, at any rate!) for that.

Thomas Risdon the elder  ?-02/04/1586

This Thomas Risdon, to whom I refer as the elder in an attempt to avoid confusion with his son of the same name, who also became a barrister, was the first son, and therefore heir, of Giles Risdon of Parkham. Read Thomas the elder’s page here.

Philip Risdon  (bap)25/08/1538-?

Philip was Giles Risdon’s fourth son; of the careers of the second son, William (died 12/08/1622 at St Giles in the Wood, Devon) and third son, Ambrose (buried 07/04/1604 at Buckland Brewer, Devon), nothing appears to be known. Philip followed his elder brother Thomas into the legal profession, as the entry below from the Inner Temple online database confirms, but he appears to have had a very uneventful career. His date of death is unknown: he was living in 1585, but he could have succumbed to one of the many bouts of plague that were rampant during this century: see the Plague link in the Calendar extract.

Name: Philip Risden Admission Date: 26/01/1560
Address: Parkham, Devon, England Notes: Pledge: Stephen Bradden.1

Edward and John Risdon  1541-1628

These two brothers, the fifth and sixth sons of Giles Risdon of Parkham, have been combined together here, and on their own Edward & John page because, although not a great deal is known about each of them, they are clearly connected by the religious faith that dictated their lives; the dates shown above are for Edward’s baptism at Parkham and John’s death (he was also buried at Parkham) — Edward’s date of death is unknown. They were both of the Catholic persuasion (as, so it would seem, were several other family members) at a time which could be dangerous for them for extended periods.

Giles Risdon  (bap)02/02/1552-?

Very little is known about this Giles, the younger, other than that he was baptised at Parkham on the second of February, 1552, and that his mother was Phillip(a), the relict of Mountjoy, whom his father had married on the 9th of February 1550 at Parkham, his first wife Elizabeth, née Bremelcomb having been buried at Parkham on the 19th of June, 1549. His entry into the Inner Temple was at the relatively young age of 19 years, although the records, if correct, show that his nephew Giles beat his by possibly four years (see below).

Name: Giles Risden (standard); Rysdon (given) Admission Date: 28/07/1571
Occupation Given: gentleman
Address: Parkham, Devon, England
Second Address: Lyon’s Inn, Westminster, London, England2

Giles Risdon  b. 1565?-04/02/1632

This Giles was the first son, and heir, of Thomas the elder (so, ‘the grandson’); we do not know his exact date of birth: according to the most detailed of the Heralds’ lineage charts, he was “aged 21 years and more at his father’s death”. Given that his parents married in 1562, he could have been 24 years of age when his father died. The records of both the Inner Temple and Willcocks would seem to confirm Giles’s admission to the Inner Temple in 1578, when he would have been, at most, fifteen years of age, which seems somewhat precocious3 but not unknown in other areas of further education at that time; it seems odd that there are two entries in the Calendar for this Giles, but not one for his namesake uncle Giles (see above): perhaps his uncle ‘dropped out’, for some reason. These few entries did not warrant a separate page.

Name: Giles Risden (standard); Risdon (given) Admission Date: 12/05/15784
Title Given: junior
Name: Thomas Risdon Occupation: armiger Father/Son Relationship: son
Notes: The Act of Parliament of 11-May-1578 records an order “that Mr Giles Risdon, son of Mr Thomas Risdon, esquire, bencher, shall have a general admission, paying nothing for the same”.

PARLIAMENT held On 11 May, 20 Elizabeth, A.D. 1578, before THOMAS BROMLEY, GEORGE BROMLEY, RICHARD LONE, EDWARD FLOWERDEWE, and others. [p.293]

Order that Mr. Giles Risdon, son of Mr. Thomas Risdon, esquire, bencher, shall have a general admission, paying nothing for the same.5

PARLIAMENT held On 1 July, 24 Elizabeth, A.D. 1582, before ROBERT WYTHE, THOMAS MARYET, THOMAS RYSDEN, JOHN PAGRAVE, and others. [p.319-20]

Special admission of Mr. Giles Rysden, son and heir of Mr. Thomas Rysden, one of the bench, and that gratis by the privilege of his father.

Philip Risdon junior  ?-(bur.)23/09/1640

This Philip was the first son, and heir, of Ambrose Risdon, the second son of Giles the elder (see Philip Risdon above). Given that there are several entries for him, there is a separate page for Philip Risdon Jr.

Thomas Risdon junior  ?-09/10/1641

Again, we do not have a date of birth for the second son of Thomas Risdon the elder: He has enough entries in the Inner Temple Calendar to warrant his own Thomas Risdon Jnr page.

Tristram Risdon  1580?-1640

Although he was not perhaps regarded in his own time as being as illustrious as the foregoing products of the Inner Temple (and undoubtedly not as materially wealthy), Tristram Risdon’s name is arguably better known — certainly in academic circles where the antiquity of a work is of less importance than its content, and thereby its merit — so (not least because of the relative plethora of available sources) Tristram Risdon certainly deserves a page of his own.

William Bellamy Risdon  1763?-?/06/1815

This is where I take my leave of what I have seen called on one genealogy site, perhaps rather grandiosely, The House of Bableigh! Although a fair amount is known about the exploits of this gentleman while in the employ of the East India Company, regrettably very little is known to date of his background (and hence, the closeness of any direct connection to me), other than he might have been born in 1763,6 and next to nothing (by me) about his post-maritime activities. This could change as more records come to light, of course. Suffice to say that what we do know is based almost entirely upon one book,7 Commodore Sir John Hayes, his Voyage and Life (1767-1831): with some account of Admiral d’Entrecasteaux’s voyage of 1792-3, by Ida Lee (a pseudonym of Mrs. Charles Bruce Marriott); Longmans, London, 1912, but it is sufficient to warrant his own Capt. W. B. Risdon page. Ida Lee also wrote two other books called The Coming of the British to Australia,8 Longmans, London, 1906, and Early Explorers in Australia, Methuen, London, 1925.

Risdon’s main claim to fame, or perhaps that should more accurately be posterity, is the attachment of his name to a settlement in Tasmania, Australia, the attribution of which will be briefly described in the text: Hayes was in the habit of honouring his fellow officers and friends by naming newly ‘discovered’ geographical features, and at the time of the discovery of the Risdon area of Tasmania, William Bellamy Risdon was second officer of Hayes’s ship, the Duke of Clarence. One less savoury aspect of the story, which will be related in the text, is Risdon’s complicity in the shameful stealing of land & resources from the indigenous inhabitants, in the name of the king of England (and for the profit of the genuinely unironically named ‘Honourable’ East India Company: saying that this was the custom of the time is no mitigation, in my opinion.

Edward Risdon  04/1831-05/05/1862

This gentleman is the first of the notable Risdons on this list to whom I can confidently claim to be directly related, and because I have a reasonable amount (but not as much as I would like) of information about him, it is enough to warrant his own Edward Risdon page; he was my great great grandfather.

Edward George Fouracres Risdon  11/04/1855-Q4/1933

Edward George was the first son, and second child of Edward Risdon, above; he was also my great grandfather. Although he could not, strictly speaking, accurately be described as notable, given that he achieved neither fame nor notoriety, he was a true pater familias, and there were repercussions from his father’s death which are worth relating, hence his own EGF Risdon page; also, he was the father of the last person on this list, Wilfred Risdon.

Wilfred Risdon  28/01/1896-11/03/1967

As I have written a full biography of my grand uncle, Wilfred Risdon, I will only give very brief details here; in addition, please have a look at the Wilfred Books page (which will open in a new tab as it is a complete page) on this site, and the About page on the Wilfred Books site, which gives a brief synopsis of the book, along with some reviews and links to excerpts from three chapters in the book. Wilfred Risdon was born in 1896 in Bath, Somerset, and he was the last of ten children who survived beyond infancy, including my grandfather, Charles Henry, born 1884. Wilfred was fervently religious as a child, and remained so, to a greater or lesser extent, for the rest of his life. His early career was in politics, after service right through the first world war (and beyond: he went into Germany with the army of occupation) in the Royal Army Medical Corps; he was a socialist by conviction, although after failing to win the constituency of Dorset South for Labour in the 1924 general election, he became part of Oswald Mosley’s team in Birmingham, and stayed with Mosley until just before the second world war: his most high-profile position with Mosley was as the first Director of Propaganda for the British Union of Fascists in 1933. He was interned in Brixton gaol for three months in 1940 under the notorious Defence Regulation 18B(1A), but he had already started working for a conviction that was to occupy him for the rest of his life: antivivisection. For the last ten years of his life, he was Secretary of the National Anti-Vivisection Society, engineering the move of the headquarters to the heart of the medical establishment, Harley Street, where he suffered his fatal heart attack.