NOTES ON SURNAMES (HULL) 55
RUDDIFORTH The meaning of this surname is easily explained. It is a variant of Rutherford, a place name meaning “cattle ford”; the first element is Old English, hryther, meaning “horned cattle”.
Our problem is identifying the Rutherford from which Yorkshire “Ruddiforths” take their name. Rutherford in Roxburghshire on the Anglo-Scots border certainly gave rise to a surname, and is doubtless the ancestral home of the Scots Rutherfords, and probably of those of the North-East of England where the name is well represented.
There is another Rutherford in North Yorkshire near the border with County Durham, and though there is no clear evidence of it being a source of the surname, early instances of various derivatives of Rutherford in Yorkshire suggest a possibility.
Spellings of the Yorkshire place name include Rotherford and Rudderforth. Rotherford is a South Yorkshire surname. The earliest instance of the name found to date is in the Register of Freemen of York –
Laurence Rotherford, ‘foundour’ (i.e., metal-founder) 1426/7
John Rotherford, Labourer of “Kirkby super Wald”, took sanctuary in Beverley Minster after committing a murder, August 1525
Rotherford in the Whitby Parish Register from c. 1580
Anne Rotherforth married Edward Saltmarsh at Holy Trinity, Hull, October 1581
Dorothy Rutherforthe was a witness in Hull, June 1642
John Rudderforth, translator, freeman of York, 1740
Ruddiforth in South Holderness from 1785 when it is recorded in the register of the Catholic chapel of Nuthill.
Thomas Ruddiforth married Mary Goodwin at St. Mark’s church, Hull, in 1846
William Ruddiforth joined the Hull Police in 1884.
The Scottish Rutherfords were a well know border clan of Teviotdale. Some of the name settled on the English side of the border, where they were established in the 16th century, and may have been in the late 15th century. John ‘Rotherforthe’ and William ‘Rotherforthe’ were landowners at Middleton in Northumberland in 1541.