Scudamore Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Scudamore Surname Meaning

Scudamore as a surname derived from the place-name of Upton Scudamore, a small village near Warminster in Wiltshire.  Scudamore here may have come from the Old English word scitemor meaning “one who lived by the moor.”

Ralph de Scudemer lived around the time of William the Conqueror and held lands in Wiltshire and Herefordshire.  He was the first to assume the Scudamore name. 

Scudamore Surname Resources on The Internet

Scudamore Surname Ancestry

  • from England (Wiltshire and Herefordshire)
  • to America

EnglandFrom Ralph de Scudemer came the Scudamores of Wiltshire and Herefordshire.  

Wiltshire.  His name appeared there in the Domesday Book of 1086 and Walter de Scydemore around the year 1140. Peter de Skydemore held the manor of Upton Scudamore in 1216, as did his descendant Peter Scuydemor who died in 1342.

However, their presence ended later in the 14th century, possibly as a result of the Black Death.  Some moved elsewhere in Wiltshire, some to Devon, while John Skydemore came to a sad end in London. Nothing now remains of the Scudamore name in Wiltshire.

Herefordshire.  The first recording of the name here was Hugh de Scudimore in the 1167 Herefordshire pipe rolls. Scudamore descent here split into two lines, the older one based at Kentchurch and the younger one at Holme Lacy.

The Kentchurch line was closer to the Welsh border, their lands were farmed by Welshmen, and they were more sympathetic to Welsh grievances.  These Scudamore with Catholic recusants in Elizabethan times but Parliamentarians by the time of the Civil War.  There followed:

  • John Scudamore, a colonel in the Hereford militia, who was the Hereford MP from 1764 until his death in 1796.
  • two further Johns who were colonels in the Hereford militia.
  • and the line which later became Lucas-Scudamore.

The Holme Lacy line, which began with George Scudamore in 1419, had by contrast adopted a much more pro-English and anti-Welsh line.  John Scudamore then established himself in 1515 at the court of Henry VIII where he served as a gentleman usher for thirty years and grew wealthy. His son Sir James was a gentleman usher with Queen Elizabeth.  Then came:

  • Sir John Scudamore who was made a Viscount in 1628 and entertained Charles I at Holme Lacy in 1645 (Holme Lacy was later plundered by the Parliamentarians).  
  • the heiress Frances Scudamore who inherited the estate in 1716 and married two men who adopted the Scudamore name.
  • while Sir Edwin Stanhope secured the estate in 1820, took the name of Stanhope-Scudamore, and his descendants were to hold Holme Lacy until 1909.

The Scudamores at Ballingham in Herefordshire were a branch of the family at Holme Lacy.  From Robert Scudamore, a rector at Stoke Edith in the 1660’s, came the Scudamores at Wye in Kent. William Scudamore was a surgeon there, his  son Sir Charles an eminent physician.  

However, William of the next generation, born in 1812, spent his life in and out of debt: “He spent his time travelling in various parts of England and on the Continent, never in trade or profession, but occasionally dealing in horses and selling horses on commission.”  

He died abroad in Trieste in 1871.

Scudamore and Skidmore.  Skydmore or Skidmore was a spelling variant to Scudamore.  Often it was found that some people were using the names interchangeably. However, by the 16th century the shorter easier form of Skidmore was coming into more common usage as it began to spring up in areas outside of the old landowning families.

Thus Scudamore was still the main spelling in Herefordshire and nearby Somerset. But it was the Skidmore spelling that had spread in larger numbers into the West Midlands and elsewhere.  By the time of the 1881 census Skidmore was outnumbering Scudamore in England by about seven to one overall.

Warren Skidmore’s 1989 book Thirty Generations of the Skidmore/Scudamore Family in England and America covered both spellings.

Later Scudamores.  The Scudamore name could be found in the small village of Llangarron in Herefordshire from the 17th century onwards.

Geoffrey Scudamore was a farmer there in the 1920’s and 1930’s who also busied himself in point-to-points racing.  He served with the RAF during World War Two and spent two years in a prisoner-of-war camp.  On his return, Geoffrey became a trainer, achieving a career-high in 1950 when his horse won at the Cheltenham Festival with his son Michael in the saddle.

Geoffrey was the progenitor of a remarkable Scudamore horse racing family:

  • his son Michael (1932-2014), winner of the Grand National in 1959
  • his grandson Peter (born in 1958), eight times Champion Jockey
  • and his great grandson Tom (born in 1982).

Their exploits were covered in Chris Cook’s 2018 book The Scudamores: Three of a Kind.  

America.  Godwin Scudamore from Herefordshire departed for America as a young man in 1844 and farmed in Illinois. He enlisted in the Unionist army in 1862.  

“Godwin Scudamore was captured and placed in the notorious Libby Prison at Richmond where he was confined for nine months. He with others then made a bold strike for liberty. They managed to work a tunnel through under the walls of the prison.  On the night of February 9, 1864 they passed out and made good their escape.”  

At the end of the Civil War, Godwin headed west with his family to California and settled in Scotts Valley where he farmed.

Scudamore Surname Miscellany

Ralph de Scudemer.  It appears that Ralph de Scudemer was in Herefordshire before the Norman Conquest.  Either a Breton or a Norman, he probably came over from France around 1060 in the retinue of William fitz Osbern.  He was a stonemason by trade and was brought in to help build castles against the Welsh along the border.  The first of these castles was Ewyas Harold in Herefordshire.

Ralph married the widow of Erkembald fitz Erkembald by whom he had three sons – Reginald, Walter, and Hugh.  He was mentioned four times in the Domesday Book of 1086 and was probably still living in 1100, although he was dead by 1120.  He did ward at the castle of Ewyas Harold on the Welsh border for his lands in Wiltshire and Herefordshire. 

John Skydemore’s Sad End in London.  John Skydemore from Wiltshire went up to London, fell in with evil companions, and came to a sad end. On the night of Monday after Epiphany on January 6 1345,

John Skydemore, John de Wysbech, Hugh de Reding, and John Bussard de Thakeham broke into the shop of William de Dustone, a hosier in Cordwainer’s Street. They took away with them several pieces of cloth of different colors to the value of l00 shillings which was found later in their possession.

A week later, they appeared at a court presided over by John Hammond, then the Lord Mayor of London.

On being asked how they would acquit themselves, Reding and Bussard said that they were clerks and were imprisoned. Wysbech and Skydemore could not take the benefit of clergy, but pleaded not guilty and put themselves on the mercy of the court.  The jury of twelve men retired and after deliberation said on their oath that Wysbech and Skydemore were guilty: “Therefore let them be hanged.”

John, Viscount Scudamore.  John Scudamore, born in 1601, was said to have been very studious as a young man.  He also became very friendly with Archbishop Laud.

The deaths of three of Scudamore’s baby sons in their first year led to some soul-searching. Laud convinced John that the money gained by his ancestor from the dissolution of the monasteries may have been a reason for this personal tragedy. John took Laud’s advice to heart and donated large sums of money to the church.  In fact he even rebuilt and endowed the by then dilapidated Abbey Dore church.

Scudamore also took an interest in agricultural matters and imported a breed of cattle from France, now known as Hereford cattle, and a type of cider apple.  King James made him a baronet and sent him to the French court as ambassador.

During the Civil War John Scudamore was one of the leading royalists in the county, which eventually led to his four-year imprisonment in London.  For his financial support and personal sacrifices he later gained a peerage.

Frances Scudamore and Her Husbands.  Frances was the heiress of the third and last Viscount Scudamore of Holme Lacy who had died in 1716.  She was a woman of somewhat doubtful reputation.

She had first married Henry Somerset the Duke of Beaufort in 1729.  He adopted the Scudamore name.  But their marriage was not a happy one, leading the Duchess to have an affair with Baron William Talbot. In 1742 the Duke filed for divorce due to this affair.  The Duchess countersued, claiming that the Duke was impotent. When the Duke disproved her claim before court-appointed examiners, the divorce was granted in 1743.

The year after her divorce Frances remarried, her second husband being Colonel Charles Fitzroy.  Charles Fitzroy was the illegitimate son of Charles Fitzroy, the 2nd Duke of Grafton whose father himself had been an illegitimate son of Charles II by Barbara Villiers. The name was perhaps indicative of his lineage and he too took the name of Scudamore on marrying Frances.

Their only child Frances became the second wife of the Duke of Norfolk. But she became insane and was locked away for many years. After her death in 1820 without children, the estate of Holme Lacy fell into extensive litigation, eventually settling on Sir Edwin Stanhope who also adopted the additional surname of Scudamore.

Margaret Scudamore the Actress.   Margaret was born Daisy Bertha Mary Scudamore in Portsmouth in 1881, the youngest daughter of a shipwright there.

She left home at the age of eighteen and found her way to the London offices of a theatrical agent.  Being mistaken for Mary Scudamore, the young daughter of a well-known actor-playwright-manager Fortunatus Augustine Davis who had added “Scudmore” to his surname many years before, she was given his address.  Fortunatus, a “most cheerful” man, welcomed her into the household and she lived with his wife and children for a time until he found work for her as an actress in London.

While appearing in repertory at the Theatre Royal in Brighton, she met the actor Roy Redgrave and they married at Glasgow Register Office in 1907 while they were touring in the north.  A year later she gave birth to a son, Michael Redgrave, who was to be knighted during a very distinguished theatre and film career.

Six months after Michael’s birth, Roy Redgrave left Margaret and departed for Australia, never to return.  Following his departure, she went on to have her own successful career as an actress.  And she married Andy Anderson, a rich tea planter, in 1922.

Scudamore and Skidmore.  The table below shows the breakdown of the number of Scudamores and Skidmores in England in the 1881 census.

Numbers Scudamore Skidmore
Hereford    38     5
Wiltshire     1     2
Somerset    50    28
Gloucs.    48   177
SubTotal   137 (46%)   212 (9%)
Worcs.   261
Warwicks.     8   169
Staffs.     9   486
Elsewhere   153  1,072
Total   300  2,200

There had developed new pockets of Skidmores in Staffordshire (particularly at Kingswinford near Birmingham), at Eyam in Derbyshire, and at Chalfont in Buckinghamshire. 

Geoffrey Scudamore’s Experiences in World War Two.  After quitting farming, a protected industry during the war, Geoffrey Scudamore joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and took part in his first bombing mission as a wireless operator.  His Halifax plane flew out of RAF Lissett south of Bridlington in July 1943 bound for Gelsenkirchen.

Yet on its return from Germany it was a hit and crash-landing in Nazi-occupied Belgium.  The crew was captured as held prisoners of war for the next two years.  Fortunate to survive because their pilot kept control of the plane and deliberately hit the top of trees to slow its descent, the bloodied Scudamore sacrificed his own chances of making an escape to freedom in order to help pull stricken colleagues clear of the wreckage.

His family back home thought he was dead.  Six weeks later, a crackly message came through on the radio that he and his comrades were alive and in a prisoner of war camp.

After liberation by the Soviet army, American and British prisoners were not released for another month.  During this time they were allowed to forage for food in the area one day a week. Geoffrey discovered a new racing saddle at an abandoned farm. When he returned home to Llangarron, this prize was under his arm.

Scudamore Names

  • Colonel John Scudamore was the MP for Hereford from 1764 until 1796.   
  • Michael Scudamore from Herefordshire was a National Hunt jockey in the 1950’s and 1960’s who started a notable racing dynasty.  He was the father of jockey Peter Scudamore and the grandfather of jockey Tom Scudamore. 
  • Richard Scudamore from Bristol was the Chief Executive of the English football Premier League from 1999.

Scudamore Numbers Today

  • 500 in the UK (most numerous in Herefordshire)
  • 200 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Scudamore and Like Surnames

Many surnames originated from SW England, the principal counties there being Devon and Cornwall, Somerset and Gloucestershire.  These are some of the prominent and noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




Click here for return to front page

Written by Colin Shelley

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *