Rhodes Surname Genealogy

Rhodes, from the Old English rod meaning “clearing,” may describe someone who lived by a clearing; or it is locational – from the early place-name of Rodewelle in Lincolnshire or from the later Rhodes in Yorkshire or Lancashire.
Early spellings were Rhode, Rhoads, Rodes and Roads, as well as Rhodes. The pronunciation tended to be “Roids.” The
surname has no connection with the English word road meaning

Rhode is also a surname in Germany where it is thought to have come from a town or village of that name near Lubeck.

Rhodes Resources on

Rhodes Ancestry

There was an early Rhodes presence in Lincolnshire. Gerard de
, a feudal baron, resided at Horncastle in Lincolnshire
in the
early 13th century. Much later on, Daniel
Rhodes was three times mayor of Boston in Lincolnshire between 1665 and

the Rodes family also held sway in Nottinghamshire where William de
Rodes was
the first rector at Clifton in 1242. By
1500 they were established at Staveley in Derbyshire.
Sir Francis Rodes built Barlborough Hall near
Chesterfield in 1584. The line of Rodes
baronets here became extinct in 1743.

However, the largest number of Rodes and Rhodes came from Yorkshire,
mainly, it would appear, from the West Riding. Almost half of
the Rhodes in England were living in Yorkshire at the time of the 1891
census. An early name was Thomas de Rodes of Thorp near
Rotherham, recorded in
the 13th century.

It was said that well-educated Yorkshire ministers would correct the
name and spelt it “Rhodes,” inserting the “h” and thereby quietly
demonstrate their knowledge of Greek. Yorkshire Rhodes from the
17th century included:

  • the Rhodes at Gomersal near Bradford who date from
  • the Rhodes family beginning with Thomas Rhodes, born around
    1724 at Ledsham near Castleford.
  • another Rhodes family beginning with John Rhodes, born in 1786
    at Flockton chapel near Wakefield.
  • William Rhodes the playwright,
    known for his popular burlesque Bombastes
    , born in 1772 in Leeds.
  • a Rhodes family that was
    landed gentry at that time at Bramhope Hall near Leeds.
  • while the
    famous cricketer Wilfred

    came from the village of Kirkheaton near

Elsewhere. Cecil Rhodes’
has been traced back to James Rhodes in
Staffordshire in the mid-1600’s. These Rhodes
later moved to London and then to Essex. Cecil set out
with his brother Herbert in 1871 to prospect for diamonds in the Cape
Colony. There he was to stamp his name on history.

. It was said that a Rhodes was Sebastian
Cabot’s pilot and it was after him that the state of Rhode Island was
named. Two early New England settlers were:

  • Zachariah Rhodes from Lancashire who
    had been imprisoned for a short time in Boston for openly remarking:
    “the court has naught to do in matters of religion” and, being banished
    from Massachusetts, moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1644.
  • and Henry Rhoades, also from Lancashire, who arrived in the late
    1630’s and
    settled in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Both Zachariah and Henry have a
large number of descendants.

Early Rodes/Rhodes
arrivals from the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire area were:

  • John Rhodes who arrived in Virginia via the Channel
    Islands in the 1630’s and settled in Middlesex county.
  • Francis Rodes who arrived in
    Maryland in
    1671, but may have returned to England later. His
    younger brother Charles came to Virginia in the 1690’s
    and did
  • while John Roades, a Quaker,
    arrived in Fayette county, Pennsylvania also in the 1690’s.

Swiss and German.
The John Rhodes, a Mennonite minister, who came to the Shenandoah
valley in Virginia from Switzerland in 1729 was originally, it is
believed, Hans Denk Roodt. He was killed in an Indian
massacre in 1764.

“John Rhodes was shot while standing in
his doorway. Eve Albright Rhodes and a son were killed in the
yard. Five other children were killed. Eight children

A marker was erected on the site where this happened in 1985.

Ellis Rhode published his The Rhodes
Family in America
in 1959. It covered the descendants of
John Rhode who came to South Carolina from Germany in the 1770’s and
later moved to Ohio and Indiana. Family tradition has it that he
came to America as a young man and enlisted in the Revolutionary
War. Many other Rhodes (or similar sounding names) came from Germany to
in the 18th century.

New Zealand. The four Rhodes
– William, Robert, George, and Joseph – were the
sons of William Rhodes, a tenant farmer in Yorkshire. They had
come to New Zealand in the days before organized settlement (William
arriving as early as 1836) and played an active part in the early
political, business and farming life of the country. It was said
that they were men of shrewd judgment, bustling energy, and full of
Yorkshire determination. All of them amassed considerable
wealth. Their descendants today in New Zealand are numerous.

Rhodes Miscellany

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

Rhodes Names

William Rhodes was the
first very successful entrepreneur of the New Zealand colony.
Cecil Rhodes was a British
colonial financier and statesman in South Africa. As Prime
Minister of the Cape Colony in the 1890’s he helped to extend British
territory north into what was then called Rhodesia.
Wilfred Rhodes was a Yorkshire
and England cricketer who took over 4,000 wickets with his slow bowling
over his career.
Zandra Rhodes is a
contemporary English fashion designer.

Select Rhodes Today

  • 35,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 33,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




Click here for returnto front page

Leave a Reply