Rudd Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Rudd Meaning
Rudd is an old English surname of uncertain
origin.  It is either the name of a
person who lived by a rood or cross;
or, coming from the Old English rudig
meaning “red” or “ruddy,” would be a nickname for someone with red hair
or with
a ruddy complexion.  Alternatively, it has been suggested that the
Rudd name has
Danish origins.
This may be the more likely explanation

Rudd Resources on

Rudd Ancestry

Guppy is his 1890 work Homes of Family
Names in Great Britain
described Rudd as follows:

“Rudd is an ancient
English name which is now represented as such in Shropshire and
Norfolk, and by
Rood in Somerset. In the 13th century Rud was a Derbyshire name; Rudde
in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, and Leicestershire, Rude in
Shropshire, and De
Rude in Wiltshire.”

But the main early Rudds were
in Yorkshire.

Yorkshire.  Early sightings of the Rudd
name in Yorkshire were in the East Riding and in nearby areas of north

  • the first recorded was Gerald Rudd in 1189 at Moreby
    located south of
    York on the river Ouse.
  • by 1257 the name had appeared further south to Snaith
    near Goole on the lower banks of the Ouse.  Humphrey
    Rudd, possibly one of the
    early Rudds in Yorkshire
    with an Irish/Welsh pedigree, settled
    at Hassle
  • and by 1278 the name was recorded further north at Burton
    Fleming near
    Bridlington and subsequently at Danby in Glaisdale near Scarborough.

Later there
were Rudds further west at Killinghall and Slaidburn, close by the
border with
Lancashire.   John Rudd, the clergyman
Tudor times who bent with the
, came from this area; as did John Rudd the Virginia sea
captain a
century or so later.

Rudds also extended
into Swaledale and Wensleydale.  Thomas
Rudd operated the Preston Moor colliery in Wensleydale in the 1620’s.

One line of Rudd vicars began with James Rudd at
Kilham in the East Riding in the 1740’s, continued with his son James
at Newton
Kyme, and then with his grandson Eric at Thorn near Doncaster.  George Rudd lived at Worsall Hall near Yarm
in the early 1800’s and was the vicar at Sockburn.
His passion was beetles and his collection
can be found at the Yorkshire Museum at York.

Rudds in Yorkshire were
extensively covered in Mary Amelia Rudd’s 1920
book Records of the Rudd Family.

Elsewhere.  There was one old Rudd
pedigree outside of
Yorkshire, that of the Rudds recorded at Higham Ferrers in
Northamptonshire from
the mid-15th century:

  • Captain Thomas Rudd of this family, a distinguished
    engineer and mathematician, was made Chief Engineer to King Charles I
    in 1640.
  • while
    a cousin of his, Anthony Rudd, was appointed Bishop of St. David’s in
    Wales and
    from him came four Rudd baronets.

By the time of the 1881
, the Rudd name had spread across the country, but did
show a distinctly eastern bias – suggesting that maybe the Danish or
origin had some credibility.

Norfolk had by then overtaken Yorkshire as the
county with the largest number of Rudds.

Rudde was a mercer in Norwich who died in 1562.
His line continued as Alderman Rudd was recorded there in 1632
bread to the poor on Ash Wednesday.  In
1728 Burlingham Rudd from the nearby market town of Holt was convicted
stealing a horse and transported to South Carolina.

Later on, the name cropped up in villages around King’s Lynn such as
Grimston.  The forebears of the former Tory
Cabinet Minister Amber Rudd
were from this village.

Rudd came from a family wine merchant’s in Norwich, established by his
grandfather there in 1851.  After World
War One he moved to London and joined as a partner the famous London
merchants Berry Bros in 1920.  Berry
subsequently became Berry Bros
& Rudd. 
Two Rudd generations later Lizzy Rudd is the chairman of
company today.

There was also a Rudd outpost in Lancashire, mainly concentrated
in Wigan and its suburbs Aspull and Ince-in-Makerfield.
The first record appears to be Mary Rudd who
married Edmund Atherton in Wigan around 1605.
Joseph Rudd was reported at Ince-in-Makerfield in 1737.

Ireland.  The Rudds in Ireland
generally came from

The most notable of them were the Rudds of Clone House in Wexford,
dating all the way back to an Elizabethan soldier of fortune from
Anthony Rudd, who secured leases on the land there in 1593.  These Rudds became powerful
and influential landowners in the area.

“The difference in wealth and social
standing the family held to others is reflected in their final resting
being the only enclosed grave.  It is
also the only boxed tomb within the graveyard, another attempt to
themselves from others, even after death.”

Rudd of the family fought at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and later
himself in the South American Wars of Independence.
Anthony Rudd, a farmer, departed Wexford for
Canada in 1816.  A Rudd family remained
at Clone House until the early 1900’s.

The Rudd name was also to be found in
Dublin and in Roscrea and Templemore in Tipperary.
Norman Rudd’s 1992 book An Irish Rudd Family
covered the various Rudds in Ireland.

America.  There were
three main early Rudd lines, from:

  • Jonathan
    Rudd in Connecticut  
  • John
    Rudd in Virginia  
  • and
    Burlingham Rudd in
    South Carolina.

Jonathan Rudd was
probably in Connecticut by the year 1640.
There is no record on what ship he arrived, nor from where he
came in
England.  This is unfortunate in that he
was perhaps the progenitor of the largest number of Rudds in America.

according to court records, was a bit of a lad in his early years
before his marriage in Connecticut in
.  He was from then until his
death in 1658 a
man of some substance in Saybrook.  His
descendants settled in either New London or Windham, Connecticut in the
1700’s before moving away at the time of the Revolutionary War or

  • Zebulon
    Rudd had moved to Dutchess county, New
    York by the 1770’s.  Descended from him
    was William B. Rudd, a general during the Civil War.
    He was appointed Quartermaster of New York in
  • Joseph Rudd had moved to
    Bennington, Vermont also by that time.  His
    family were prominent farmers there.
  • Jonathan
    Rudd went to Cherry Valley in New
    York after the war was over.  Later Rudds
    were to be found in Albany where William P. Rudd started the law firm
    of Harris
    & Rudd in 1877.  
  • while
    David Rudd
    from Becket in Massachusetts was a pioneer settler in Willoughby, Ohio
    in the
    1820’s.  He moved further west with his
    family to Wisconsin in 1854.  

is confusion about the Rudd line in Virginia.
It is known that John Rudd was a sea captain from Yorkshire who
arrived in Virginia in 1663 and became master of the Hopewell
which traded between Virginia and England.  He
does not appear to have settled in

A second John Rudd, thought to have been his son (although there is no
proof of this), came to Virginia in 1701 with his wife Avis as
servants.  This John Rudd, a weaver by
trade, was the progenitor of the Rudds of Henrico and Chesterfield

There is more clarity about Burlingham
Rudd.  It is known where he came from,
Norfolk, and when he arrived as a young man in South Carolina, which
1728.  However, he had been transported
there as a convict.

“Unlike most of the
more than 50,000 who were sentenced to transportation to the colonies,
he did not
change his name and disappear into the frontier once he had completed
his punishment
for his crime.  He kept his name,
married, and raised a family.  The name
Burlingham or Burrel was in fact passed down to the third and fourth

He made his home in what
became Anson county, South Carolina.
There were later Rudd lines in Barnwell county, South Carolina
Coffee county, Alabama.

Australia and New Zealand.  For stealing
a bag of sugar Thomas Rudd was transported from London to Australia in
1790 on
the Second Fleet.  He ended up a
respected businessman and sizeable landowner in Campbelltown, NSW. 
His sons settled and prospered in the Murrumbidgee
district.  Thomas is the
great-grandfather of the former Australian Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd

George Rudd
a Primitive Methodist from Yorkshire, brought his family on the Victory to New Zealand in 1866.  He
began farming a year later in the
Greendale district of Canterbury, SI and continued farming there until
death at eighty-one in 1897.  He left a
grown-up family of three sons and one daughter.


Rudd Miscellany

Rudd’s Possible Danish Origins.  Mary Amelia Rudd in her 1920 book Records of the Rudd Family reported as follows:

“The Scandinavians planted
near the graves of their great men and warriors large upright stones
Beanta stones and it seems probable that the huge monolith in Rudston
churchyard in Yorkshire may be one of these.

ancient saga still preserved at Copenhagen states that a Viking
called Rudd died and was buried in the Yorkshire Wolds; and that
afterwards his
Beanta stone was sent over from Denmark and erected at his place of
which ever after was called Rudston, having before borne another name.

I endeavored to confirm the tradition by searching for the saga at
Copenhagen.  But Sigfus Blondal, the
sub-librarian of the royal library there, was unable to find one on

He thought the name Rudd
sounded decidedly Scandinavian and stated that in Icelandic it would be
and that in the latter part of the tenth century there was a famous
chief of that name, one of the principal persons in the Laxadala Saga
and in
the first part of the Story of the Burnt
  The brother of that chief was
married to the daughter of an Irish king. Some people have thought that the name
was of Saxon origin and, in allusion to this, possibly the crest which
Lincolnshire and Cumberland Rudds assumed was a “rood or cross bottone.”

One does not, however, find any connection
with any Saxon part of the country in early times.
In fact. the Rudds have always been settled
in the north of England chiefly and in Yorkshire in particular.”

Rudston is a small
village in the East Riding of Yorkshire, not far from the coastal town
Bridlington.  The place-name was first
attested in the Domesday Book of 1086 and meant ‘rood’ or ‘cross’
referring to the monolith.  However, the
name rud derived from the Old Norse ruð,
meaning a clearing or pasture. So
the place-name could be Ruðstane, a
stone in the clearing.    Nearby
place-names indicate Norse Viking rather than Anglo-Saxon origins here.

Some Early Rudds in Yorkshire.  One early pedigree, of uncertain validity, runs as follows:

  • William Rudd, Lord of Meath in Ireland in 1076
  • John Rudd, Lord of
  • Robert Rudd, Lord of Meath
  • Sir John Rudd who married Tanglwist, daughter of
    Rees, Prince of South Wales, went on the Crusades,  and
    died in 1192.
  • Robert Rudd who married
    Eleanor, daughter of the Lord of the Brinne in Lancashire.
  • Anthony Rudd who
    married Joan, daughter of Lord Lucy, and came to Yorkshire.
  • and Robert Rudd the
    ancestor of the main Yorkshire line.

John Rudd the Clergyman who Bent with the Political Wind.  John Rudd from Killinghall in west Yorkshire was
ordained as a clergyman during the reign of the Protestant-leaning Edward VI.  In 1550 he was able to obtain
two Prebends and in 1551 he married Isabel Weldon.

The accession of Queen Mary in 1553
swiftly brought deprivation of both of his Prebends on account of this
marriage, as this implied a conversion to Protestantism.

His punishment wrought
in him a speedy repentance of the step he had taken.
The next year he appeared at the pulpit of
Paul’s Cross and “took the opportunity of making a frank profession of
change of sentiments and particularly of telling the people how greatly
repented having taken a wife.”

During Queen Mary’s reign Rudd joined in the
religious persecutions of Protestants and was present at the trial of
as recorded by Foxe who noted that Rudd was “preaching and barking

With the accession of Queen Elizabeth in 1558 came a return to the open
expression of his former opinions and his discarded wife returned to
home.  1n 1559 John Rudd was restored to
his stall at Durham Cathedral and held the curacy of Riston in
Yorkshire.  He died in 1578 and was buried
at Durham

Jonathan Rudd’s Strange Connecticut Marriage in 1647.  Jonathan Rudd was married in the winter of 1647 by John Winthrop, of New London who was acting under a Massachusetts commission.  The name of his bride was not given, but the circumstances attending the marriage were recorded as follows:

“The wedding
day was fixed and a magistrate from upriver engaged to perform the
ceremony as
there was not anyone in Saybrook qualified to officiate.
But there falling out at that time a great deal
of snow, the magistrate intended to go down thither was hindered by the
of the snow.

But the nuptials could not be delayed.
So application was made to Mr. Winthrop to
come to Saybrook to perform the ceremony.
But he, deriving his authority from Massachusetts, had no legal
right to
officiate in Connecticut.  He then agreed
if the parties would meet at a brook designated and he would there
perform the
ceremony as that was Massachusetts territory. The offer was accepted.

On the
brink of this little stream, the boundary between two colonies, the
parties met
– Winthrop and his friends from Pequot and the bridal train from
Saybrook.  Here the ceremony was performed
under the
shelter of no roof, by no hospitable fireside, without any
accommodation but
those furnished by the snow-covered earth, the overarching heavens and
perchance the sheltering side of a forest of pines or cedars. Never
perhaps was
the rite performed in a situation so wild and solitary and under
so interesting and peculiar.

The impressive group stood around wrapped in their
frosty mantles with heads reverently bowed.
At the given sign the two plighted hands came forth from among
the furs
and were clasped in token of a lifelong affectionate trust.”

The stream from
that time forth received the name of Bride

George Rudd in New Zealand.  George Rudd took up his residence in the Greendale
district of Canterbury in 1867.  That
October he and his son set out to the land selected on the banks of the
river.  They had horses, plough, dray,
dog, not forgetting some loaves of bread which his wife had baked for
use.  The basket containing these loaves
was placed in a hole dug out of the tussocks, for they had to last a

Son James later wrote:

“Well do I remember the first time we got
the horses into the plough.  I was very
anxious to steam ahead but father, not forgetting that the blessing of
the Lord
rested upon those who acknowledge Him in their ways, said, ‘Now, Jim,
my lad,
we must ask the blessing of God on our labours.’

The horses were started a few
yards, the first sod was turned up, and then we knelt down by the
plough and
father told the Lord how we had come to this new country and invoked
blessing upon our labours.

And who shall say that God was not present?
We were a lonely pair upon that lonely
plain.  Yet God was surely there and
heard our petition.  Our first crop was
put in and proved the goodness of our Father in giving us a plenteous

Rudds in the 1881 Census

County Numbers (000’s) Percent
Eastern England
Durham    0.2     4
Yorkshire    0.6    13
Lincolnshire    0.1     1
Norfolk    0.9    19
Suffolk    0.1     3
Sub-Total    1.9    40
Rest of England
Lancashire    0.5    12
London    0.6    10
Elsewhere    1.7    38
Total    4.7   100

Amber Rudd’s Colorful Ancestry.  Amber Rudd was a Cabinet Minister in Theresa May’s Conservative Government.

On her mother’s side she has royal
blood.  Her mother Ethne Fitzgerald was
descended, eight generations removed, from King Charles II and his
Barbara Palmer.  Barbara was known for
her beauty, promiscuity and foul temper.
She bore the King five children before she was usurped in the
affections by Nell Gwynn.

On her father’s side, the Rudd name went back to the
Norfolk village of Grimston near King’s Lynn.  Samuel
Rudd, Amber’s
great great
grandfather, was recorded in the 1851 and 1861 census as a lime burner
there.  His son Samuel was described in
1871 as the
landlord of the Jolly Farmers public
house and his son Frederick was born in Grimston in 1874 before moving
later on
to London.

Tony Rudd, Amber’s father, was born in London in 1924.  But there was something improbable about his
birth certificate.  At that time Frederick and his
wife Grace had been married for twenty years
with no children and Grace was nearly fifty.
Frederick had become a commercial traveller, spending some time
in South

it possible for Grace to have given birth to Tony?
Well, no it wasn’t, as Tony made clear in his
memoir One
Boy’s War
.  He explained how
Grace had brought him up and
referred to her as an aunt.  He mentioned
a mother in South Africa, although he didn’t say who she was and didn’t
his father.  The identity of Tony’s
mother was only revealed by Grace’s petition for divorce, or at least
revealed – she was referred to only as Miss Maguire.

herself married the
writer and critic A.A. Gill in 1990 and they had two children.  They separated in 1995 after she discovered
that her husband was having an affair with a journalist.
They subsequently divorced.

Kevin Rudd’s Convict Ancestry.  Researchers
looking into Kevin Rudd’s family history
discovered that his fourth great-grandfather, Thomas Rudd, was
transported to
Australia in 1801 to serve a seven-year sentence for “unlawfully
a bag of sugar.”

However, his crime was eclipsed by that of the Prime
Minister’s paternal fifth great-grandmother Mary Wade, a London street
who made a pittance by sweeping streets and begging.
In 1788, aged 12, she and an older girl
coaxed an eight-year-old girl into a toilet where they relieved her of
“her dress, petticoats, a linen tippet, and a cap and
absconded.”  Wade was sentenced
“to be hanged by the neck until she be dead” after a trial at
London’s Old Bailey in January 1789, but the sentence was commuted to
transportation to the colony of New South Wales.

Another relative of the Prime
Minister was convicted of forging coins.
His paternal fifth great-grandmother Catherine Lahey arrived in
in 1800 after forging one shilling and sixpence to pay her rent.

In July 2008
Kevin Rudd was presented with two leather bound volumes of his family
by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at a private
ceremony in

Far from being the embarrassment it might have been just
a couple of
decades ago, the discoveries are likely to give Kevin Rudd’s image a
significant boost.   Convict ancestry has recently lost its
aura of shame
become a badge of honor in modern Australia.


Rudd Names

  • Captain Thomas Rudd, a distinguished engineer and mathematician of his time, was made Chief Engineer to King
    Charles I in 1640. 
  • Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister of Australia from 2007 to 2010. 
  • Amber Rudd was a Cabinet Minister in Theresa May’s Conservative Government.

Select Rudd Numbers Today

  • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Norfolk)
  • 20,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Rudd and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from Yorkshire.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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