Riddell, John (DNB00)

RIDDELL, JOHN (1785–1862), peerage lawyer, born in 1785, was eldest son of Henry Riddell of Little Govan, a scion of the ancient family of Riddell in Roxburghshire [see under Riddell, Robert]. His mother was Anne, eldest daughter of John Glassford of Dougalston, by Anne, daughter of Sir John Nisbet of Dean. Educated for the law, Riddell was called to the Scottish bar in 1807. He made genealogy and Scottish peerage law his special study, and rose to pre-eminence in that branch of the profession. Among other legal work he prepared the Crawford and Montrose peerage cases for Lord Lindsay. He loved genealogical research for its own sake, and Sir Walter Scott, who alludes in the ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel’ (canto i.) to ‘Ancient Riddell's fair domain,’ described him as the only man from whose exclusive store of learning could be gathered an adequate notion of the state of society in Scotland in the age preceding the Reformation. He died unmarried at his house in Melville Street, Edinburgh, on 8 Feb. 1862. He was buried in the Dean cemetery there. He left a number of manuscripts which, in terms of his will, were acquired by the Advocates' and Signet Libraries, Edinburgh.

Riddell's works were: 1. ‘The Saltfoot Controversy, with a Reply; also an Appendix containing some Remarks on the present State of the Lyon Office,’ Edinburgh, 8vo, 1818. 2. ‘Reply to the Mis-statements of Dr. Hamilton of Bardowie respecting the Descent of his Family; with Remarks on the Claim of the Lennoxes of Woodhead to the Male Representation and Honours of the Original Earls of Lennox,’ Edinburgh, 1828. 3. ‘Remarks upon Scottish Peerage Law, with special Reference to the Case of the Earldom of Devon,’ 8vo, 1833, Edinburgh. 4. ‘Tracts, Legal and Historical; containing (1) Reply to Mr. Tytler's Historical Remarks on the Death of Richard II; (2) Observations upon the Representation of the Rusky and Lennox Families, and other Points in Mr. Napier's Memoirs of Merchiston; (3) Remarks upon the Law of Legitimation per subsequens matrimonium; the Nature of our English Canons and the Legitimacy of the Stewarts,’ Edinburgh, 1835, 8vo. 5. ‘Additional Remarks upon the Question of the Lennox or Rusky Representation, and other Topics,’ 8vo, Edinburgh, 1835. 6. ‘Inquiry into the Law and Practice in Scottish Peerages before and after the Union, involving the Questions of Jurisdiction and Forfeitures; with an Exposition of our original Consistorial Law,’ 2 vols. 8vo, 1842, Edinburgh; this, which is based on No. 3, is the standard work on its subject. 7. ‘Stewartiana; being more about the Case of Robert II, and his Issue,’ 8vo, Edinburgh, 1843. 8. ‘Comments in Refutation of Pretensions as to the Representation of the ancient Stirlings of Calder: a Review of “The Stirlings of Keir,”’ 4to, Edinburgh, 1860.

[Letter by Lord Lindsay in the Edinburgh Evening Courant, 15 Feb. 1862, Nichol's Herald and Genealogist, i. 538; Law Times, xxxviii. 290.]

H. P.