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2,395 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

This One-Name Study is the result of many years of research into this name.To date there is a Facebook group, a blog,a newsletter and a book is currently under way. The Guild of One Name Studies is an excellent portal to give some structure to this information and place the family in the context of the interesting times they lived through. With new records appearing on the Internet every week there is always something to discover.

New: I have just completed the first book in a History of the Rigmaiden family which sees the beginning of the story from 1245 to 1605. It describes the family's origins in a small settlement in Westmoreland to becoming the lords of the manor of Wedacre in Lancashire, England. If anyone is interested in receiving a copy the cost will be postage plus a small cost to cover the cost of printing. You can notify me via the Guild or by the Rigmaiden Family History Group on Facebook.


Variant names

From documents stretching way back to the 13th century the main variants have been: Rigmaden; Rigmayden; Rygmaden; Rygmayden and Ryggemayden but the name has also been mistranscibed as Regmarsden; Ringmaiden, Regnandin and Reymaiden. Howver, the standard form for over a hundred years has been Rigmaiden.


Name origin

There are various suggestions as to the origin of the name, but most agree that it derives from a place-name in Westmoreland, which is in turn derived from the Old Norse hryggr meaning back and the Old English maegden meaning 'great hill' - a modern construct may be 'impregnable' as in the name 'Maiden Castle' in Dorset. Close to Rigmaden Hall, which is near Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria, is Maidan Way. For more variations on the etymology see my blog posting at:


Historical occurrences of the name

The earliest mention I have found is 1285 where a John de Ryggemayden appears in the Lancashire Assize rolls and is from Rigmaiden in Cumberland. Apart from this the Rigmaidens were an old gentry family from Lancashire and for over 300 years were lords of the manor of Wedacre and Scourton, near Garstang. One John de Rygmaiden in the 14th century was said to be descended from a branch of the Mansergh family, of Mansergh in Westmoreland, who adopted the name of Rygmaiden from the name of a Hall in that township and later settled at Wedacre Hall.

In 1761 a William Rigmaiden sailed from England to America as an indentured servant. In the 1820s Thomas Rigmaiden of Liverpool settled in southern Louisiana at Lake Charles, marrying Eliza Ryan in 1826. He wrote a journal from 1836 to 1858 about life in those parts. As well as runing a small farm Thomas was also the local schoolmaster. He was the son of another Thomas from Liverpool, mariner and sea captain, and the evidence points to his involvement in the slave trade.

Another son of the sameThomas, James Rigmaiden was in the Royal Navy reaching the rank of Commander and invented a replacement for the deadeyes in ship's rigging called Rigmaiden plates which he showed at the London Great Exhibition in 1851.

The family included a great many girls and from 1300 to 1600 they married into established old Lancashire gentry families. From 1800 onwards the families are more widespread through the UK, some names are:  Edwards (military), Smith (the Grose Smiths of the Isle of Wight, solicitors and landowners); James (publicans); White (mariners); Ellerton (merchants); Hammill (merchants); Jackson (mariners & traders); Dickson (merchants); Brown (merchants).

Sadly, the line has died out in the United Kingdom with the last individual born under this name being female and married. The line continues in the United States where there are hundreds of individuals still with this name.


Name frequency

Historically, most occurrences were in Lancashire (Lancaster, Garstang, Preston, Ormskirk, Liverpool) There are occasional mentions in Essex, Middlesex, London, Hampshire, Bath, Durham, Yorkshire, Leicestershire and Durham. 

Most occurrences of the name today are in the United States. 

Distribution of the name

As well as travelling to the United States, several Rigmaidens (female) emigrated to Canada, and another branch (also from the female line) found itself in Australia.



I have collected all available BMDs for the family from 1290 onwards, using GRO certificates, parish registers, archive documents, Chancery proceedings, early conveyances, Lancashire County History and Heralds' visitation pedigrees.

I have also obtained wills where available and other archive documents and have been able to construct a number of family trees.


A DNA project has recently been set up so if any male Rigmaidens are interested in this (or their female friends or family), I can provide more information and answer questions. For family historians, this test tracks a male individual back through time via their paternal line and can also provide matches to other descendants.  The best test to take is a Y-DNA test of 37 markers.

The link to the Rigmaiden Project Profile is:

If you order your kit via the Rigmaiden DNA Project  you should obtain a discounted price and there may be funds available if donations have been made to the Project website. Discounted prices are also available through the Guild.