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About the study
For direct access to the genealogy portion of this one-name study, please visit this link:
The following information presents the DRAFT publication of this one-name study.
The Guild defines a One-Name Study as: "Research into the genealogy and family history of all persons with the same surname and its variants." A one-name study is a project researching all occurrences of a surname, as opposed to a particular pedigree or descendancy. In short it encompasses the research of a surname over the face of the earth throughout the known recorded history of time.
Clearly this is a daunting task, even for an uncommon family name, and while the Roddy or Ruddy surname is not as common as Jones and Smith, it is also not extremely rare. It is estimated that there are approximately 10,000-20,000 individuals with these surnames living today. A rough estimate of all individuals recorded in history with either of these two names is on the order of 50,000-100,000 people total.
This study will never be completely done, and will always be a work in progress, but it is the intension of the author to post results as they are achieved, modifying them as additional information is discovered, analyzed, and re-analyzed. The links below currently open chapters in PDF format in a separate window or tab of your web browser.
Variants & Frequency
Ancient Origins, Onomatology and Etymology
Toponymy and Geographical Place Names
Earliest Historical Occurrences
Heraldry and Commercial Reports
Notable or Famous Individuals
Living Member Data
Proposed Modern Origins
Summary of Major Family Lines
There are two primary variants of this one-name study: Roddy and Ruddy. For completeness, the Reddy surname has been added to the list of primary variants, but is of interest only as it is related to the focus of this study. Each of these surnames has their own variations, referred to in this study as “secondary variants.” These secondary variants are much more uncommon than the primary variants, and are often intermingled in the same family in different government and religious records. Some variants are as a result of an attempt to Anglicize the Gaelic original surname, such as O’Rodaigh becoming O’Roddy, and eventually Roddy.
Other spelling variations have been found in records for the subject surnames, but not used consistently over the course of a lifetime. These variants usually have the same sound when spoken, but for various reasons are spelled differently in different records. Sometimes the original record taker may have misheard the name due to accent or other reasons and spelled it like it sounded to them, even though the family used a different spelling, both before and/or after the record in question. Some of these variations propagated into existing family surname usage. Future work is still needed to relate families with these variants to the primary variants.
These surnames have been proposed as probably related, but to date no connection has been made either through traditional genealogical research, family trees, etc., or through DNA connections. Larger population groups with these surnames are indicated as “related major surnames” and exceed 100 instances in the 1940 US Census. Those surnames with less than 100 are listed as “related minor surnames.”
These are variants of the study that were used in the past but are no longer in use today. They are included for historical significance and research purposes.
These surnames have been found in records for members using either a primary or secondary variant, and are most likely a transcription error. Often the original document is spelled correctly, but the transcriber misread the handwriting, causing these members to be missed in computer searches. A good example is transcribing a cursive upper case “R” as a “B” or a cursive lower case “o” as an “e.”
1. Rody (pronounced row-dee) had 600 search result returns for the 1940 US census, making it one-seventh the size of the Roddy surname (pronounced rah-dee). For the purposes of this one-name study, it is treated as a secondary variant of Roddy.
2. Croddy (pronounced krah-dee) is presumed to be a progressive of McRoddy and/or M’Croddy. Since the root surname is Roddy, it is included in this study as a variant.
3. Rudd is by far the largest related surname at 7923 search result returns for the 1940 US census, more than three times as much as Ruddy. More work needs to be done to determine if Ruddy (and variants) originated with this dominant English surname.
4. While Riddy (pronounced rid-dee) does not sound like Ruddy (pronounced ruh-dee), in cursive writing it is easy to confuse the two. It is assumed to be a variant of Ruddy by mistake, or a variant of Reddy. It will be included as a secondary variant for Ruddy for clarification purposes to determine if it is a result of a propagated transcription error.
5. Rudy (pronounced roo-dee), is the second largest related surname at 5563 search result returns for the 1940 US census, making it more than twice as big as Ruddy. For the purposes of this one-name study, it is treated as a separate, but related major surname.
6. Cruddy and Gruddy (pronounced kruh-dee and gruh-dee) are presumed to be progressives of McRuddy and/or M’Gruddy, which have a similar sound. Since the root surname is Ruddy, it is included in this study as a variant.
7. Ready and Reddy, both (pronounced red-dee ) are the fourth and fifth largest Roddy-Ruddy variants or related surnames in the 1940 US census at 3287 and 2357 search result returns respectively. They are smaller than Roddy, but bigger than Ruddy. Reddy is a common transcription error for Roddy (and sometimes Ruddy), but is pronounced quite different. Professional genealogy historians have often listed it as an Anglicized variant of the original Gaelic Rodaigh or Rodican surname, after Roddy and Ruddy. Ready is rarely, if ever, a transcription error of Roddy or Ruddy, but it is presumed to be related to Reddy by virtue of the sound of the surname and similarity of spelling. Reddy will be listed as a primary variant for this study, of lower priority, but further variants of Reddy, including Ready, will not be researched.
As an American, and especially an American from the western states, my pronunciation does not reflect accents of people from other parts of the world, including other parts of America. On a recent trip to Ireland, I asked an old gentleman in a pub to pronounce “Roddy” and then “Ruddy,” and with his strong Irish brogue, I could not discern the difference in the names – they sounded exactly the same, “Rrrrooddy,” with a clear rolling “R” at the beginning, a guttural combination “oo” and “uh” sound in the middle, and a sharp “d” sounding almost like a soft “t.” Other Irish listeners had no difficulty discerning the different names and a large discussion ensued that they were, in fact, probably related, but of different descent. It is my opinion, considering that most Roddy and Ruddy families are of Irish or Scots-Irish descent, that when they came to America and immigration officials and census takers heard their names, they wrote down what they heard, as best they could. This is the main reason for the known mixture of Roddy and Ruddy heritage, as demonstrated by yDNA matches across both of these family surnames.
This section addresses the origins and meanings of the Roddy and Ruddy surnames. Like other surnames with old Irish origins, it is important to understand that the spellings of these names as they are used today are based upon Gaelic names that have been Anglicized, mostly during the 16th and 17th centuries. Research into ancient origins, therefore must not stop at the oldest occurance of Roddy or Ruddy, but also extend into the original Gaelic language. Ireland has an ancient and complicated history which has had a profound influence on Irish surnames, as Joseph Osborne, author of “Irish History (A Mere Grain of Sand)” states:
“There have been many major events that have occurred in Ireland’s long and tumultuous history that have caused that country to evolve into what it is today. One would be hard put to attempt to single out which events have had the most profound and lasting effect on the people of Ireland. Four such events that have had a direct bearing on the surnames of Ireland are the coming of the Vikings in 795, the Norman invasion in 1161, the plantation of Ireland that began in the mid-16th century, and the arrival of Oliver Cromwell in Ireland in the year 1649.” – Introduction to page 1 of Heirlooms of Ireland, by Joseph Osborne.
Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the origin, history, and use of proper names. Etymology is the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. By an extension, the term "the etymology of [a word]" means the origin of the particular word.
Before presenting the results of research of ancient manuscripts and professional heraldry and commercial reports, a discussion is required to understand the subtle distinctions between some of the lessor known and understood religious titles that have been historically associated with families of the Roddy and Ruddy surnames: coarb, comharb, erenagh, and airchinneach.
The following definitions are provided from Wikipedia, which are appropriately resourced and verified to be accurate:
A coarb, from the old Irish comarbae (Modern Irish comharba), sometimes spelled comharb or comarb, were lay-Abbots or lay-guardians and the hereditary farmers and wardens of the church lands belonging to a monastery. The title was necessary if a generation of heirs were not in the monastic order, and therefore couldn’t be actual Abbots.
A erenagh, from old Irish érenach, was responsible for receiving parish revenue from tithes and rents, building and maintaining church property and overseeing the termon lands that generated parish income. Thus he had a prebendary role. The Erenagh had the tonsure but took no other holy orders; he had a voice in the Chapter when they consulted about revenues, paid a yearly rent to the Bishop and a fine on the marriage of each daughter. The role usually passed down from generation to generation in certain families in each parish. After the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries the role of erenagh became subsumed in the responsibilities of the parson in each parish.
This section lists various ancient names associated with the Roddy-Ruddy surname from various sources, including text and Internet:
O’Rodaighe, O’Rodachain, Redican, O’Roddy
O’Rodaigh - 'descendant of Rodach' (derivative of rod, strong); the name of a branch of the Ui Maine in Co. Galway; also a variant of Ó Rodacháin (which see) in Co. Leitrim.” From “Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall: Irish Names and Surnames” by Rev. Patrick Woulfe, 1923, found online at the Library Ireland at http://www.libraryireland.com/names/or/o-rodaigh.php
Roddy – Redican, Redahan, Reddington, Redehan, Rodahan, Rodaughan, Rodehan, Rody, Rogan, Ruddy, Rudican, see Groddy, Redden
O’Rodachain – an Ui Fiangalaigh sept of Dunmore, Galway and Ballyroddy, Elphin, Roscommon.
O’Rodaghain – an Ui Degha sept; Bishop of Ferns, Wexford; and seated at Ballyrogan, Brittas Bay, Wicklow.
O’Rodachain – an Ui Bresail sept of Oriel in Donegal, and at Mulaghrodan, Clonoe, Tyrone.
Groddy – MacGrody, MacGruddy, MacRuddy, MaGrody, Roddy
MagRodaigh – a Cinel Feargus Erenagh sept of Carrigbracky at Desertegny, Inishowen, Donegal
Reddan – Redehan, Roddan, Rodahan, Rohan, Rogan, see Roddy, Rogan
O’Ruadhain – a Clan Cullen Ui Caisin sept, Stewards of Thomond, east Clare.
Ruaidhrí, genitive — id. (the same), Rory, Roderick, (Roger, Roddy); Teutonic — Hruodric, Norse — Rothrekr, fame-ruler; a name introduced by the Norsemen
Mac Rodaigh—IV—M'Ruddie, Ruddy; 'son of Rodach' (strong); a rare Donegal surname.”
Rodaighi – The family of O’Rodaighi (“Muinter Rodaighi”), now Roddy, descended from Fiangalach, son of Anmchadh, son of Eoghan Buacc, son of Cormac, son of Cairpri Crom. This family is to be distinguished from the Roddys of Fenagh, in the county of Leitrim, who were of a different race, as their pedigree shows. The Tribes and Customs of Hy-Many, commonly called O’Kelly’s Country, translated by John O’Donovan,
Roddy - Irish: reduced Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Rodaigh ‘descendant of Rodach’, a personal name probably derived from rod ‘spirited’, ‘furious’. Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4
Ruddy - English: nickname for a person with red hair or a ruddy complexion, from Middle English rudde, Old English rudig ‘red’, ‘ruddy’ (see Rudd 1). Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4
History of the name
This section is still a work in progress, but so far, the earliest recorded instances of the Roddy-Ruddy surname (with variants) is as follows:
Jane Roddey married Thomas Sefton in Burton, Cheshire, England, on 08 Jan 1579
Edmundi Roddey christened two daughters, Joanna and Agneta, in Wedmore, Somerset, England, on 5 Nov 1606.
Edmundus Roddy was buried in Wedmore, Somerset, England, on 08 Apr 1612.
Jana Roddy married Gulielmy Turner in Wedmore, Somerset, England, on 28 May 1612.
James Roddy christened son James in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, England, in 1656.
Michael Roddie christened daughter Mary, born 5 Dec 1655, in Long Newton, Durham, England on 16 Dec 1655.
William Roddy christened daughter Elizabeth in All Saints, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England on 9 May 1669.
John Roddie and Margaret Davidson christened daughter Sarah, born 12 Mar 1717, in Kirkmaiden (by Drummore), Wigtownshire, Scotland, on 20 Mar 1717.
John Roddie and Grizell McCrackan christened daughter Mary in Stranraer, Wigtown, Scotland, on 26 Mar 1712.
John Roddy (no father listed) & Margaret Davidson (no father listed) married in Kirkmaiden (by Drummore), Wigtownshire, Scotland, on 12 Feb 1730, and had three children [NOTE: marriage was probably 1720 - possible transcription error]:
Janet Roddy, b. 25 May 1720, c. 5 Jun 1720
James Roddy, b. 14 Sep 1722, c.23 Sep 1722
John Roddy, b. 1 Sep 1727, c. 7 Sep 1727
William Roddy (father William Roddy) & Elizabeth Davidson (father James Davidson) married in Kirkmaiden (by Drummore), Wigtownshire, Scotland, on 28 Apr 1721, and had four children:
John Roddy, b. 23 Mar 1722, c. 8 Apr 1722
Jean Roddy, b. 29 Oct 1723, c. 3 Nov 1723
Janet Roddy, b. 16 Nov 1724, c. 24 Nov 1724
Agnes Roddy, b. 7 Aug 1727, c. 14 Aug 1727
John Perry (father not listed) & Grizel Roddy (father Thomas Roddy) married in Stranraer, Wigtown, Scotland, on 29 Apr 1761.
Mathew O’Rodachon (O’Roddy) was identified as the Canon of Clonmacnoiae on 8 Jul 1418 in a Papal document directing that he be made a brother in the Priory of Mothel (present day County Waterford, Ireland).
Tadhg O’Rodaigh (O’Roddy) was the Coarb of St. Caillin in 1516 when he was responsible for the transcription and adaptation of the ancient manuscript, the Old Book of Caillin. In the rewrite, now called Book of Fenagh, he documents his ancestry back to 300 B.C. A full 14 generations before Tadhg’s life was the first recorded Rodachae or Roddy, estimated at around the year 1100 CE.
Hugh O Roddy and Sheelie Mc A Leese were married on 27 Oct 1684 at Derry Cathedral, Templemore, Londonderry, Ireland.
Frequency of Primary Variants
Of the primary variants presented above, Roddy and Ruddy are used almost interchangeably in Ireland and Northern Ireland. In the USA, and elsewhere, however, Roddy is the dominant variant as the tables below indicate. The related surname Reddy is included for information because professional genealogy historians have often listed it as an Anglicized variant of the original Gaelic Rodaigh or Rodican surname, after Roddy and Ruddy. It is also a common transcription error for Roddy (and sometimes Ruddy), but is pronounced differently and often written Ready, vice Roddy or Ruddy, when provided to someone verbally. Reddy will be listed as a primary variant for this study, but of lower priority, and further variants of Reddy, including Ready, will not be researched.
Frequency of Secondary Variants
These surnames either sound the same or similar when spoken, or are variations of spellings of the primary variants and are in current use. If there are no persons found using a variant in the 1940 US census, it is listed under extinct variants below.
Frequency of Extinct Variants
These are variants with no search result returns in 1940 US Census, but historically used and related to the primary variants.
Frequency of Major Related Surnames
These surnames with search result returns greater than 100 in 1940 US Census are possibly related based on their root or similar sound. They are reported here for comparison purposes only.
Minor Related Surnames
These surnames with search result returns less than 100 in 1940 US Census are possibly related based on their root or similar sound. They are reported here for comparison purposes only.
Prefix Related Surnames
These names almost always show up in searches with the root surname, but sometimes they have a space incorporated in the transcription between the prefix and surname. Instances of O’Roddy, McRoddy, M’Groddy, etc., including Ruddy variants almost always appear in search results for exact searches without the prefix and occur very seldom in modern records. Often the O, Mc, or M are transcribed incorrectly as a middle initial. Care must be taken to seek out these rare occasions so as not to miss anyone.
The following is a description of the use of some of these prefixes:
- M’/Mac/Mc – son of, denoting somebody’s son, or a surname prefix
- O/Ua/awe – a grandson, or descendant of an eponym as a surname
Unused Surname (no occurrences found)
Other variations in spelling of Roddy and Ruddy below were searched for but had no occurrences found in modern records:
- Roddye (10 Find-a-Grave only),
- Rothy (10 Find-a-Grave only)
In the London Election Registration, there were recorded these variants: Roadie (29) 1910-1958, O’Roddy (28) 1932-1965, Rodye (1) 1951.
There was also one Theresa Rodyes in the 1875 Minnesota census.
Distribution of the name
Tables will be added as data is gathered and analyze. This graphic depicts locations of Roddy (blue dots) and Ruddy (red dots) in the study with approximately 4000 individuals cataloged.
General DNA Project Goals
- To confirm known or suspected relationships between various Roddy and Ruddy family lines.
- To help connect distant cousins with each other.
- To use what these distant cousins know about their family history to help others break through brick walls in their own families.
- To assist in the understanding of the origins of the Roddy and Ruddy surnames.
- To identify separate and ancient Roddy and Ruddy family lines and attempt to connect them to origin stories.
Ruddy-Roddy Surname Project - Goals
The main goal of the Ruddy/Roddy Surname Project is to differentiate Y DNA among Ruddy and Roddy males, to determine which paternal ancestral lines are related to each other, and which are not. Based on paper records, there appear to be two origin points for the Ruddy clan: one in the West Coast of Ireland (especially Co. Mayo and Co. Donegal) and the other in the north of England (especially in Lancashire and Yorkshire counties). Even today, phone listings and voter rolls show heavy concentrations of Ruddys in these areas of Ireland and England.
The area around Newry, Co. Down in Northern Ireland is a mid-point along what could be called a "Ruddy Mayo-Lancashire Axis." Right now, it is unclear whether Ruddys from Newry and its environs are Irish or English in their deep ancestral roots. Preliminary results suggest they may be more English than Irish, but no definitive conclusion can yet be made.
The linguistic origin of the surname "Ruddy" appears to be completely different at each end of the "Ruddy Mayo-Lancashire Axis."
In England, Ruddy comes from the Old English "rudde" meaning of reddish complexion. In Ireland, Ruddy comes from the Gaelic word "Rodach" meaning spirited or furious. Therefore, the fact that an Irish Ruddy has the same surname as an English Ruddy in many instances may be a complete accident. The Irish and English only began to use surnames about 500 years ago, and sometimes they chose the same surname, but for different reasons.
The goal of this project is to investigate whether or not Irish Ruddys and English Ruddys (and their respective ancestors) are genetically related. Geographic proximity suggests they might be, but the differing linguistic origins of the Ruddy surname suggest they are not.
To find answers to these questions we welcome the participaton of all Ruddys and Roddys from the United States, Ireland, England, the rest of Europe, Australia, South Africa, Australia, Latin America and anywhere else in the world they may live. The more data the better! A Ruddy living in Brazil or Argentina might not seem of much use in this project, but in fact they are since all Ruddys and Roddys should have a genetic link back to Ireland and England.
Roddy Project - Goals
We hope to find relationships between the Roddy and Roddye lines and connect with others who have similar research interests. We are also seeking to see if there is a signature Roddy DNA profile and if not how closely related the different DNA profiles are. We can help identify the lines by all new YDNA testers entering as much information as they know. Please enter your earliest known ancestor, dates for your earliest known ancestor, and please enter the location of your earliest known ancestor. It seems as if several lines may be related with a few minor differences. Having this additional information may help unconnected Roddys, Roddyes and Ruddys be able to connect and find a common ancestor. It may also help those who have tested find a link with a researcher with similar interests.
It is my hope that we can see several unconnected lines test. We would also like to see a test for the Hugh Roddy line, the Col. James Roddye line, the Daniel Roddy of TN line, the Alexander Roddy line, Roddys in Ireland and Roddys in other countries other than Ireland and the US.
Thank you to all who are participating!
Rodd-Rudd Project - Goals
The goal of this RODD DNA PROJECT is to build the RODD surname family tree from the many branches which exist around the world and confirm which branch of the tree we all belong to.
To enable researchers to share information and create concise family tree records for future generations.
An additional goal is to determine if families with Rodd and Rudd are related, and did they give rise to other similar surnames such as Roddy and Ruddy?
By casting a wider yDNA net, the project hopes to prove or disprove this kind of surname evolution, as well as help establish historical roots for all the connected surnames. This project is limited to yDNA (direct male line only), as the famale mtDNA will not be conclusive with the goals of the project. If you are a female Rodd or Rudd, or surname with a similar spelling, please try to find and encourage a male member of your family to contribute their DNA to this study.