The following draws partially on notes from Rosemary Pardoe-Thomas and John Priddle (via Peggy Perrett) and the article by John Priddle in the November 1991 issue of  The Greenwood Tree (the journal of the S&D FHS).


The Priddle name appears to have its origins in the person of Raoul de Paridelle, armourer to William the Conqueror, who was apparently granted land in the counties of Devon, Dorset and Hampshire following the Norman conquest. This potential origin is broadly supported by the later distribution of the name (see below). The main family line appears to have become extinct early in the reign of Elizabeth I, their landed and other properties having been in decline since the time of Edward II. J.Hutchins' History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset (1870, Vol IV) contains several references to the Paridels of Melbury Osmond (about 5 miles south of Yeovil) who witness a charter of 8 Hen III (1223-4), grant land in a fine of 20 Hen III (1235-6) [Dorset Records Vol. V], and hold land in a charter of 1 Edw IV(1461-2), after which time the male line appears to have died out. Interestingly, Thomas Hardy chose to characterise Retty Priddle, a dairymaid in Tess of the D'Urbervilles, as 'one of the Paridelles - the old family that used to own lots o' the lands out of King's Hintock', and three hundred years earlier, 'Sir Paridell' featured in Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene. Further north, a little to the east of Castle Cary (about 10 miles north-east of Yeovil) is the landmark Priddle's Hill. 

1881 census

By 1881 there were only around 490 Priddles in the UK and analysing them by birthplace, excluding a notable presence in London (73) and the home counties (who may yet prove to have a separate origin), they were very much centred on Somerset (267), with a few offshoots in Devon (51) and Dorset (25). Of the Somerset born group, 82% (220) remained within the county in 1881. These Priddles were almost entirely concentrated in a band about 8 miles wide from Taunton in the west through to Yeovil in the east, a total area of maybe 100 square miles in the south of the county. This area can be viewed on the South Somerset parish map. There was a concentration in the west around Curry Mallett and North Curry of maybe 30% of the Priddles, and another in the east around West Lambrook, Kingsbury Episcopi and Stocklinch of maybe 40%. Another 10% were spread in the area between these two centres, with an additional 5-10% in the extreme east of the area around Tintinhull and Yeovil. The remainder were represented thinly around the county. This pattern of distribution is also reflected in the Somerset Priddle parish register extracts recorded in Ken Smith's spreadsheet.

This evidence alone would lead one to postulate a very localised origin for the Priddle name somewhere in this area. The overall prevalence is comparable to that of several single-family Norman names which have propagated elsewhere, and apart from the likely origins outlined above, it is also feasible that Priddle was a localised form of the more common Prideaux name which is found principally in Cornwall and Devon. The name Piddle also occurs in the area, presumably derived from the river of the same name, and a corruption of this remains another (less likely) possibility. Another potential origin which has been proposed is from a Welsh form 'ap Ridel'. The precise origins remain a matter for further research, but the research in question should at least be highly localised in about 20 parishes. The early evidence for the name in Tintinhull makes this one possibility for the original location, although it is clear that the representation of the family was much stronger elsewhere at later dates.

Unfortunately, further research will not be aided by ecclesiastical boundaries in the area. North Curry (with West Hatch and Stoke St. Gregory) and Kingsbury Episcopi (with East Lambrook) are peculiars of Wells Cathedral, the former of the Dean and Chapter and the latter of the Chancellor. Also, the boundary between the principal archdeaconries divides our area of interest, with Martock, Tintinhull and the surrounding parishes lying within the archdeaconry of Wells but the majority of the area of later concentration within the archdeaconry of Taunton. Finally, given the above discussion of the Paridell name, the early history of the family also appears to straddle the Dorset / Somerset border.

This page was last updated 22 November 2002