What’s in a name? The name’s Liddell, Stephen Liddell.

Today is one of those days where I had a whole slew of subjects that I could write about but one thing led to the other which is why I am here writing about Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet whose birth was celebrated on January 25th as it is every year.  Or actually I’m not, as Burns is said to be an ancestor of mine.  We both write, don’t you see the connection is obvious!  Which led me in a round about way to talk about my surname, Liddell, and where we came from.

My blood is definitely multi-cultural but whereas multi-cultural in modern Britain is more likely to mean Indian, Carribean or Polish mine is altogether less exotic unless of course you are reading this in some distant land then you may be thinking that this Stephen guy is just too exotic sounding to be true.

It’s just that my multi-cultural heritage is all from a rather concentrated area and how much genetic influence each one has one my make-up is questionable to say the least.  From what I can tell my bloodlines all emanate from within the British Isles with just a smattering of Viking to spice things up a little.

Beautiful Snowdonia in North Wales. Home of mountains, slate mines and sheep.

From one blood line I have deviations to North Wales and the beautiful rugged Snowdonia region.  Related to this is a branch of the family who no more recently than 150 years ago came from Ireland.  Of course that does not mean that they are really Irish any more than I am really British.  Although the more famous and recent history is that Britain ruled Ireland, if you go back further in time you’ll see that the Irish spent much time occupying and raiding western Britain.  They caused us hell after the Romans left and it took centuries to fight them off before the Normans turned the tables and started fighting them on their own turf.   Most likely Irish and British come from the same area, either just west of Birmingham or from the Great Rift Valley in eastern Africa, whichever takes your fancy.

Frosty mid winter Stonehenge

We are still obsessed with the sun but that’s only because we don’t get that much.

Another blood line comes from South Western England, not far from Stonehenge and it is not inconceivable that centuries past they were either Saxon or Welsh too.  Individual people didn’t move around very much until the late 19th Century but national boundaries did.   One thing is for sure, somewhere deep inside me if Stonehenge is anything to go buy I have the ability to build some really cool and long lasting structures.  If you want a genuine stone-age monument in your garden, just let me know.  I can promise it will look stone-age but not that it will last thousands of years but then that bloodline has probably been watered down somewhat.

War of the roses

The War of the Roses, The House of York is white and the House of Lancaster is red.

Another branch of the family comes from Lancashire which for those not in the know is a county just above the northern cities of Manchester and Liverpool.  A lot of my family came from the new industrial centres in the Industrial revolution where they used to make the worlds supply of cotton products.  In the 19th Century one went onto to be a leading physicist and another architect.  I’d quite like to live in Lancashire and from the War of The Roses when the two great Houses fought each other for the crown of England in a Game of Thrones-esque saga it is no doubt where I gained my love of Red Roses from.  Perhaps my family lived close to the border though as I also like white roses.   I don’t have any family from Yorkshire but that’s most likely because no-one has delved deeply enough.

The modern day England/Scotland border with the Liddel river forming part of the border itself.

The final part of my jaunt through family origins is that of my surname, Liddell.  Liddell is an old Anglo-Saxon name.  We come from the borders between England and Scotland from a particular valley where the river Lidell still flows to this day.  Liddells are a relatively rare name in Great Britain as a whole but are relatively common in the sparsely populated counties of Cumbria and Northumberland in England and Dumfries-shire and Roxburghshire in Scotland.  Northumberland in particular used to be the most important kingdom in Britain and ruled most of the country from Edinburgh in Scotland hundreds of miles down to central England but them being the violent sort they refused to acknowledge the new Norman rulers which led to much of the country being virtually wiped out and even today, that combined with the harsh weather and landscape means it is an isolated though maybe most beautiful part of England.    Like Scotland, Northumbria also has its own bagpipes and tartans as well as wonderful and famous ballads, most of them sounding very sad to reflect the history and wild nature of the area.

Liddell Strength Castle

Liddell Strength Castle or what remains of it.

Our ancestors had a castle, Liddell Strength.  For centuries the borders between England and Scotland were about as lawless as Afghanistan is today.   Large extended families or clans would raid either side of the border for sheep and booty with neither kingdom being able to get a hold of the place.  I’ve seen maps where Liddells hold a relatively large area of land 50 or 60 miles in extent.   It was a very tough area and still is in parts very remote.  The site of the Roman wall, scenes of murderous pillages from Norway and Denmark and at times incessant wars between England and Scotland.  The Liddells along with a handful of other families managed to make a living from this chaos and more than likely we made quite a bit of chaos ourselves until the Union between in England and Scotland in 1707 and then the game was up.   To see just what I mean about my ancestors coming from both sides of the border, have a look at the map below the white dot is the now totally ruined Liddell Strength castle and the white dashed line is the England-Scotland border.

Castle Liddell Strength

Liddell Strength Castle from the air. You can see the earth works and where some walls used to be. Note also how it is built on a cliff over looking the river. It was captured by the Normans and at times has been a wooden and stone castle before falling into disrepair centuries ago.

Liddell Strength from the air

Liddell Strength Castle, it couldn’t be closer to the border unless it was built in the middle of the river.

The Liddells were on of the border reivers.  Reiver being an old English word meaning ‘to rob’. This comes from the old Northumbrian (yes we have/had our own language too) and Scots verb ‘reifen’ or the old English word ‘reafian’ which is where the modern word ‘ruffian’ originates from.

Something about this wild part of the world meant that the English-Scottish borders (or The Borders) bred many internationally important names, far beyond their actual numbers with many of the best engineers, soldiers and even American Presidents tracing their lines back to here.  The Armstrongs come from this neck of the woods so “we” were the first on the moon too.   Of course whilst some of the Liddells stayed in their quite villages and desolate moors others went around the world too. Alice Liddell went through the looking glass, Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire fame could run like the wind, no doubt due to his ancestors having half of England and Scotland chasing us but we haven’t lost our tough guy sense of self.   For that look no further than Chuck ‘Iceman’ Liddell, the most celebrated and toughest mo-fo in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).   Would he have been the best fighter if his ancestors had just ran a little Apple orchard in Somerset, no of course he wouldn’t.

Chuck 'Iceman' Liddell

Greatest UFC champion Chuck ‘Iceman’ Liddell and all round hard man. 1,000 years ago we fought in castles and now in steel cages. If you don’t ‘like’ my blog he will come round and sort you out as he’s family innit.

Surnames only became prominent due to the need to pay taxes so before then there were no such Liddells, just those of us who lived in the valley with the very loud river which is what our name means.  We have a coat of arms although I have never seen one.  I do like it though, maybe I should add it to my email signatures.   One of the first mentions of the Liddells in anything like a good way is Richard de Lidell who witnessed the signing of a charter in Scotland in 1202.

The House of Liddell

The Liddell Coat of Arms – Don’t worry I don’t have any pretensions but do like to be addressed as Sir!

Traditional Border houses looked this one below.  Many are in ruins but some are still functional homes.  The homes had to look like this due to the terrible cold and snowy weather and also the continual raiding and slaughtering of families, often with dozens and dozens being killed at a time leading to multi-generational feuding that makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like a day in the park.

Traditional Borders farmhouse

The animals would sleep downstairs and the people upstairs where they would get the heat from the animals. Not the total lack of lower windows and the only tiny ones at the top along with the stone staircase on the outside to defend against raiders.

The more civilised and learned of us went into business.  Some of us were Members of Parliament of MPs in London, eminent writers or famous historians… hmm I was wondering where I got that from.   We did our fair share of globe-trotting also with Thomas Liddell landing in Virginia in 1657, John Liddell in Mississippi 1841 and others reaching California in 1850.  Those ancestors who preferred Cricket to Baseball headed off to Australia with John and Thomas Liddell arriving down- under on the Summer ship in 1857.

Whereas Liddell Strength was ruined by the Normans nearly a thousand years ago, we didn’t look back and instead went on to bigger and better things like this one…

Ravensworth Castle

Ancestral home of the Liddells
Ravensworth Castle in County Durham – Ancestral home of the Liddells

Unfortunately though we also got into coal mining, some of us doing the mining and some doing the owning and the aristocratic side of the family lost their home due to subsidence as you can see below although there is a movement to rebuild it.

That should have been mine, maybe.

Alas poor Ravensworth Castle, I knew her well. Not!

Apparently Liddell is also a very rare first name for boys in America and my clone, Stephen Liddell who must be descended from one of the young men who landed in Australia in 1857 is a big name in website, film and television.   Stephen of course was the first Christian martyr and Saint being stoned to death at Jerusalem and the name ‘Stephen’ means crowned or anointed one.  So technically Stephen Liddell means the king of the valley of the loud river.  I wonder if in 500 years someone will look on Google and read about me?  With a name meaning like that I surely deserve it! 🙂

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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76 Responses to What’s in a name? The name’s Liddell, Stephen Liddell.

  1. Fascinating and beautifully detailed post. I hope I didn’t miss this, but is there a connection with Alice Liddell of Alice in Wonderland fame?


    • There isn’t a direct one between myself and Alice at least not that I know of. The family of Alice Liddell (inspiration for the character of Alice in Wonderland) certainly moved to the London area over 140 years before my own did but rather like the more famous Scottish highland clans, the origins of the Border names such as Liddell are so narrow and specific that at one stage we must have come from the same place.

      Thank-you for commenting on my post, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. If you like this you may like my earlier effort about another relation of mine who was shot down by the Red Baron in WW1.


      • Hey; I like it. Been doing some genealogy and can trace William Liddell, my GGGGrandfather, back to Yorkshire around 1809. He was in the British Army, a Corporal with the 1st Dragoon Guards sent to Canada for the 1838 Rebellion. Married an American girl from Vermont and never returned home. Old fart joined the Federal Army, 1st Vermont Cavalry, in 1861 for the American Civil War.
        Your page was very illuminating, knew about the river, didn’t know about the old fort. My Dad and Sis went back about a decade back but don’t think they did much research.

        Sgt. William L. Liddell, Jr. (NNPD Ret.)
        Gloucester, VA, USA

        Liked by 1 person

    • vicky liddell says:

      Hi all, my husbands family are directly connected to Alice Liddell…Im new to your post, very well written…my brother and sister in law are wworking on the family island to make it a better place to visit for folks. look up Lambay Island, Ireland…fasinating! BTW my sister in law is Alice Liddell,


      • Hi Vicky, welcome to the family 🙂 Lambay Island looks an interesting place. I have met thousands of people through my blog but never before someone even slightly related!


      • Michael Cavanagh. says:

        I have a Liddell connection. My great, great, great grandfather was Andrew Liddell. He worked as a surgeon in New South Wales. Born about 1807, he died in 1877. He was based in West Maitland, NSW, and was married to Margaret Williamson. He had five children. One of his children became a politician by the name of Francis (he was also a surgeon). Francis was the Mayor of Maitland for a time. It was mentioned to me that Francis had visited the UK and met the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Liddells. We haven’t got any documentation that shows a family connection, but we are curious to know if there is a connection. My line of Liddells descends from John Liddell of Halkerston (we have a plethora of documentation to authenticate this!) A family member of mine has an artefact which is a picture that very strongly resembles Alice Liddell, i.e. from Alice in Wonderland. It was as in Francis’ possession as far as I can understand. I haven’t found any shipping records yet (I haven’t had time to search them out) to substantiate what was said — I’m taking my family member’s account at their word. There is a direct descendant of Alice Liddell (‘Wonderland’ Liddells) who is on Twitter who I’ve Tweeted — she is an author (challenging to establish any contact with her — must be very busy/may not be interested). It would be nice to hear from the Tweeting descendant of Alice Liddell, i.e. from the ‘Wonderland’ Liddells.


        • sounds fasinating! We need to form a Liddell page and see where we are all linked up.


          • Marilyn Allan says:

            True! We have to all be related….even same spelling!! Marilyn

            P. S…..we are on the way to Destin, Florida to the beach! You should have flown here to meet us!!👍👍 Google it and see the beautiful water and white sand!

            Sent from my iPhone



    • Diane says:

      Yes. I am Diane Elizabeth Liddell Goering. My older sister traced our geneology and found Alice is a distant cousin. In our family stories we originated in France, but my brother had his DNA tested and there is no French ancestory in us. We have British, Irish (rather than Scots), and Scandanavian – which comes from our Mother.

      We have Ravensworth Castle in our family history as well, so I might guess Stephen is also a distant cousin. My brother is Thomas, my Father is also Thomas and his name was from the original Thomas of Ravensworth.

      Sis has the story of how this property came into the family, but I’m afraid I’m more interested in our future generations than the past and don’t have that with me.


    • Diane says:

      Nicely done Stephen.


  2. I hope you can trace it back and discover that you are, in fact, related to her. I will check this other post out, too! Great blog!


  3. Wonderfully written travel/heritage/history tale. Great mix of visuals and text as well.


  4. redpeffer says:

    Isn’t family history fascinating? Apparently I have some proper cockney heritage mixed up in my Scottish roots-quite a geographical journey!


  5. Wonderful post, Stephen, and most fascinating to read of your family history.

    One small detail that confuses me:

    ‘Most likely Irish and British come from the same area, either just west of Birmingham or from the Great Rift Valley in eastern Africa…’

    Where did you find the source of that info. I’m curious, as I had read that the Celts (which include the Irish) originally came from an area of central Europe where the West side of Germany would now be. Apparently, the only difference between the Celts and the Germanic people at that time, was hair colour. The Celts were redheads, and the Saxons were blonde. I read that the Celts then emigrated westwards to Britain and Brittany region of France.

    Might be totally duff info, however!! Don’t quote me on it, as it was researched on the Internet some time ago, when I also traced my ancestry. Great fun, isn’t it?! 🙂


    • Thank-you, I’m surprised I got so much interest in this one but you never can tell with blogs can you?

      My comment was a little bit tongue in cheek referring to the apparent origins of humans in eastern Africa. I have been reading about Celts though and their background does seem incredibly complex though as you say the area in western Germany just about Switzerland does seem to have been important.

      Apparently the British Isles have by far the highest proportion of redheads in the whole world. It really is interesting how our view of the world is shaped by current political and national boundaries. Whenever I go to northern England or Scotland it always grabs me how much more Scandinavian everything seems in almost every aspect of life and culture compared to the more “norman” French heritage of southern England.

      I remember watching a documentary last year with a linguist and by speaking either the old local languages or dialects people in Ireland, Wales, Brittany, Norfolk, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden and Scotland and Northumberland could all pretty much communicate with each other and the only explanation was the shared history and links which have no all but vanished and been swamped by mainstream English, Dutch etc.

      On more than one occasion I have been thought to be Norwegian or Swedish due to my pronunciation of words or name places… then again when I moved here when little most people thought I was Welsh or other much more outlandish possibilities.

      Thank-you for your comments as always 🙂


  6. Mike Liddle says:

    Thanks Stephen. I took an interest in this sort of thing recently and your work really helped me in the right direction. I have learned a lot about Liddle’s!


  7. aliddy08 says:

    Hello! I married into the family but I’m just as fascinated as you in tracing history. My own family has no record of our genealogy due to immigration so I’m digging through my husband’s for our future children’s sake. Hehe! His grandpa already has quite a bit of information as he was able to trace his ancestors all the way back to the 16th century (I think…I’ll have to check the records again…but it’s quite a comprehensive list of names and what happened to them) when he visited the UK all those years ago. He showed me pictures of Ravensworth and told me about ruins of a castle near a river, right by the border. I only saw a map, and it looks very similar to the topographical map you have here. If Liddell Strength is the one that’s right by Newcastleton and has a cemetery nearby, then it must be the same one. His research told him that’s where his family had been. Grandpa’s great-grandfather moved to the States sometime in the 19th century from Newcastleton, I believe (gosh, I hate bringing you secondhand information). He is related to Chuck Liddell, Chuck’s family and his family met once before he was very famous, and never again after that.
    I’m glad I found your site. I stumbled upon it in my quest to find my husband’s family’s clan tartan because I want to surprise him with a kilt, seeing as he so strongly identifies with his Scottish roots (if you have information on that, that would be wonderful). But this is very educational for me. Anyway, I just thought I’d say hi and let you know that…well, I guess, that we are here (maybe exchange info?). Liddells unite!


    • Hi there!

      great to hear from you. Thing have actually moved on from this post and my father has tracked our family to a close family relation of King Harold from the 1066 Battle of Hastings and then onwards to the Danish viking royal family in the 7th or 8th century.

      Last week I was a little curious so I used computer software to see if I could go back further and it seems that at least on one branch of the family we go back much further to tribal leaders in Sweden at around the time of Jesus and finally to 200 BC where the first one came from Europe somewhere above the Black Sea.

      All these early folk have such imaginative Viking type names, I will have to do a blog post on it.

      There are absolutely Liddell tartans, if you contact me through my site and send an email then I will write back 🙂

      I find being able to track back to ancestors 2,200 years or around 58 generations (I must admit I lost count around the 50 mark) amazing.


      • vicky liddell says:

        wow, somewhere we must all be related! About 10 yrs ago my brother in law sent me a scrool with the family history. I have searched for it but alas I think It’s lost in my old table top computer. I know there are Bearings and Ravensworths on there. And Im thinking they came from the Scotland area. So fasinating.


        • Vicky Liddell says:

          Hi again Stephen, update on our side. My husbands Grandfather was the late Guy Liddell of MI5 fame. He was coisin to Alice Liddel (of Alice in wonderland fame). from wikipedia …Liddell was born on 8 November 1892 at 64 Victoria Street, London, the son of Capt. Augustus Frederick Liddell RA, a retired Royal Artillery officer, and his wife Emily Shinner, who died when Liddell was eight years old. He was the younger brother of Capt. Cecil Frederick Joseph Liddell, who served as Head of MI5’s Irish section from 1939, and David Edward Liddell; and was a second cousin of Alice Pleasance Liddell, the child friend of Lewis Carroll who was the basis for the books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass.[1][2][3][notes 1]
          He married Hon. Calypso Baring, daughter of Cecil Baring, 3rd Baron Revelstoke of Membland, and Maude Louise Lorillard, on 7 April 1926. They had one son and three daughters; Peter Lorillard Liddell (9 Feb. 1927-Apr. 2004), Elizabeth Gay Liddell (born 28 Feb. 1928), Juno Liddell (29 Mar. 1930 – 13 Nov. 1968) and Maude Liddell (baptised Anne Jennifer Liddell) (16 May 1931).[1][2][4]

          My husband is Peter’s son, Andrew Thomas. Guy’s story is fascinating but sad. On the family genealogy it shows the castle in Scottland as well….

          Love reading all your posts! So many people it seems want to be related to us…lol So if anyone can go back to Alice Liddell then we are definitely related.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Many thanks for your update. It is true about all our relations! Last summer I actually had a lady from Plymouth, near Boston USA. We found out we were most likely related but all the way back around 600AD! Then another family from Salt Lake City who bear the Liddell name and they were from Northumberland, near Scotland from the mid 19th century.

            Maybe I can take a photo of 64 Victoria Street in London one day, I go nearby several times a year.

            That is a wonderful rich history of Liddell’s your husband has and all relatively recent too which makes it exciting to research when they were such big names! I am sure we must be related a few generations ago.

            Hopefully, once winter has lifted I will get out and about to take some more photos of Liddell related places. I’m glad you liked my posts and I hope you particularly enjoyed the ones of Northumberland and Cumbria/Lake District in October 2015!


            • Steve,
              A heap of the Liddell’s in Massachusetts are from GGGGfather William, the B.A. trooper.
              Most of his kids (he had about 8) stayed in the Northeast. I have distant cousins up there.
              My line migrated west ending in the Indiana and Illinois area. Parker Carr Liddell, my GGGrandfather and Williams son, was murdered while on a business trip to Hattiesburg, Mississippi around 1908.


            • vicky says:

              Hi Stephen, just getting caught up this year. I would surely love have a picture of victoria street. Our 16 yr old daughter went to England to visit family. She wanted to see more of family places but her Aunt and Uncle though the tour of London was better. Her great love is horses and she really wants to come over to learn some proper English dressage.


      • Noel Liddell says:

        Man How do you do it. I have been having a crack at tracing my side in Northumberland and Durham. Go back a generation and they all become John, Joseph, Thomas and Mary! Any wonder that we like to give our kids different names now.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, very interesting read. Thank you


  9. Barbara Liddell Thornhill says:

    I am so glad that you are a Liddell, and a wonderful writer, and are interested in your Liddell heritage. Through DNA tests using familytreedna.com, we American Liddell’s have discovered at least three distinct Liddell lines in the USA, none blood kin to the others! We did, however, find blood kin in Australia, something that would probably never have happened without the tests. Our most distant common ancestor is from Stirlingshire Scotland in mid-1700’s. When attending Highland Games, I wear the Roxburghshire district tartan. I am not convinced that we are of Clan Little as they claim. I agree, Liddell’s Unite! Let’s figure this out together!

    Barbara – of James Liddell, arrived ca 1788, New York City, New York, USA


  10. I have a similar name! Interestingly I come from near Northumberland and I did a search for people withy my exact name – there are 19 of us in total and 16 live in Northumberland / borders!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. David Benz says:

    My Mother is Mary Irene Liddell Benz, born in Pittsburgh, PA. Her Grandfather was Robert Liddell
    who traveled at 15 yrs of age from England on the Albert Gallatin ship. Robert Liddell was i he coal business and owner of Phoenix Bewery and became the Mayor of Pittsburgh. Robert Lddell was from Houghton-Le-Spring, just South of Newcastle.
    Do you have any knowledge of this family, and its history or relationship?
    David Benz-WA State USA

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My mother’s name is Liddell and has traced her family all the way back to Hawick. Two brother’s Robert and John Liddel came to America here in 1775 and fought in the Revolutionary War, on of whom, John, is a direct ancestor of mine.

    We’re related!!


  13. Nic Vine says:

    Stephen – great blog – re your entry on 19 Jul 2014, how on earth did you use computer software to trace back more than 50 generations – do tell us what it is called and how we can access it.

    My grandfather was a Liddle and his large family came from Seaton Delaval in Northumberland as was.


    • I used the Ancestry.co.uk website which once you have entered in your basic information then ties in to other users who have entered their information. We were quite lucky as though we had already traced the Liddells back many centuries, at some point they became involved with the Armstrong Clan. As luck had it, historians had already researched much of this family and both the Liddells and Armstrongs were intwined with English and Scottish Royalty and before that various “Viking” groups, particularly Danish royalty such as King Canute which arrived in Britain around the 6th Century if my memory is right. These Danish families have quite well established history and before Denmark the line that I followed came from the Sweden area around 200AD. By now the information is a bit scatty but it seems they had lived in Sweden from around 200BC and they have some fantastically sounding Nordic names. Before this one generation seems to have came from northern Europe in the Germany/Poland area with the end or rather beginning of the line being a very minor tribal leader from “somewhere north of the Black Sea” which I guess is either Romania, Russia, Ukraine or Poland. I can’t claim to have done much of this research myself, I just struck lucky but hopefully if you register too then somewhere in the 15-18 centuries you will tie up with our family 🙂 and then find much of the work has been done for you. There are many more branches we don’t know much about but seeing the big names in the family tree and knowing the history is quite incredible. I think it is something like 39 generations to King Harold of Battle of Hastings fame and then around 50 to the Danish settlers in the UK but the furthers back person I’m guessing must be well over 60 generations…. I sort of gave up counting towards the end and was just wondering how far back it all went! I hope this helps, glad you liked the blog 🙂


  14. Gloria Forouzan says:

    I work for Pittsburgh’s (US) Mayor William Peduto. In 2016 we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of our incorporation as a City. With Mayor Peduto’s support I have been searching for descendants / family members of every Mayor our city has had in its two centuries of existence. Mayor Peduto is inviting every one of them to join us in July 2016 for a celebration.
    I have found several relatives of Pittsburgh Mayor Robert Liddell (1837 – 1893). I invite any of his relatives to contact me at: gloria.forouzan@pittsburghpa.gov
    Pittsburgh has had 56 individuals who have served as Mayor. To date I have found relatives of 51 of our 56 Mayors! Everyone of them has heartily welcomed news of our unusual reunion. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. cameron liddell says:

    love the history. i have always wanted to know where my last name came from and this gave me some more insights into its history. I am not sure if Ravenworth is in my history or not but would love to find out some day.My uncle started to do a family tree but was only able to go back to the early 1800’s would love to go back further and see if im related to any important people in Scottish and english history

    Liked by 1 person

  16. alexhgp says:

    Hi Stephen,
    Absolutely brilliant post. I have been trying for a while to trace my name and ancestors. I was born in Manchester but my dad and the rest of the Liddell clan I know come from Scotland.

    I do know that somewhere along the lines that we Liddells are related to Robert the Bruce.

    But I didn’t know about Liddell strength castle.
    Again brilliant post and thank you.

    Best regards Alex

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Mark Elliott says:

    Being doing research on Liddell Strenght (The Mote), Nether (lower) bye, and Canon (canopy-upper) bye region with army strand (Armystand 1376), army-strong (Armistang 1540), now Armstrong name adopting a strand along Liddel Water, on lower Liddel, name adoption of same grouping of Liddel (also Little), Armystrang (also Armstrong), about the same time showing strong relation between the Liddell (Little), and today’s Armstrong, with support of your historical concepts.

    Pre 1320 owners Wake of Cottingham, East Riding Yorkshire, giving Scandinavian migration to region also of the Graham of Grantham formily Graham.

    Mark Elliott

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I am a Liddell, my father is Christopher Liddell, his father Keith Liddell. Thanks for the info, very interesting read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Gail Liddell says:

    Found this really interesting as i am just about to start a search to find out more about the name. Although i was born and still live in Scotland, my Grandfather Thomas Liddell was originally from America, i’m fairly sure he was born in Massachusetts. Most of my Liddell family are still in Scotland but i do have cousins in South Africa.


  20. Sarah says:

    Came across your website in a search on the Liddell family…just curious as to how you pronounce your name? Does it rhyme with “little” or do you place the accent on the end of the words, as in Lid-DELL? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s pronounced Lid-DELL. It really irritates some people if it is pronounced the other way. There are some people with the surname of LIDDLE but it is thought that this is a misspelling of the name that goes back centuries.


      • vicky liddell says:

        Our’s is Liddell ryme with little. Like eric Liddell the flying scottsmen….


      • Cassandra Liddle says:

        Hey Stephen,

        I was doing some research on my last name and came across your website.
        I was wondering if you have any information on where the misspelling “Liddle” may have come from? Since that is the way my family spells our last name. Also, my grandfather (and my dad) were born in Indonesia.. (I was born in the Netherlands about 40 years after they moved here) any idea how the name could’ve gotten all the way to Indonesia?


        • Noel Liddell says:

          When visiting the Liddel Water (the river that joins the Esk River) and together forming the Scot/ English border, I found that local people pronounced the name both ways. This happened even within a group. Spelling also seems to be variable. I noticed in some family research that at times it was as we spell it, Liddell and sometimes with just the one L at the end but also as you spell it. Let’s face it not only was there a lot of illiteracy back in the day but spelling and people’s preferences change over time.

          Liked by 1 person

  21. Anne Jones (nee Liddell) says:

    Emma Liddell organised a dinner for family members in Lamesly with Lord and Lady Ravensworth three years ago. Family members gathered from Suffolk, Oxford shire Norfolk and Hampshire. Another larger reunion would be very interesting!


  22. Jane Laberee says:

    Thank-you for this! My connection to Little /Liddell is through my great-grandmother (mother’s father’s mother) Alice Little (1855-1897), born in Langholm, Scotland, died in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England. I was aware that the name led back to the Liddell River valley, rather than indicating that my ancestors were short, but I had never looked beyond that to find the meaning of “Liddell” itself. “Loud River”. Love it! — Jane Laberee jhlaberee@yahoo.com


  23. Lesley says:

    I enjoyed tthis as my grandmothers side were all Liddells including Alice


  24. Pingback: I’ve just had my DNA tested | Stephen Liddell

  25. Marilyn Liddell Hall (maiden name) Allan says:

    Hey, Stephen…. my husband was looking up the Liddell and Allan family in Scotland and found your article about the Liddells! My name is Marilyn Liddell Hall…Allan! I am married to John Allan! My husband is going to Ireland and Scotland in November and was looking to see if any of our families might still be there!

    I have a whole book about the Liddell family who left Scotland and came to the U S A in the 1700’s! Some came to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi! There were 3 brothers who did this! I am the Mississippi branch! My great grandfather was Arthur Hamilton Liddell… anyway they go way back! Would be interesting to see how we might be related!! By the way, the Liddells were all staunch Presbyterians!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Noel Liddell says:

    Hi Stephen, Just so enjoyed your piece. Recently went through the area Liddesdale etc near the Liddell Strength (lovely lump of dirt with great old graveyard beside it) and Liddel Waters and also the village of Stanley, Country Durham from where my grandfather migrated to Australia. His father was John who had a brother Thomas. I suspect that they are the two you mentioned. Had to go to Stanley as it was described in a blog we read as, ‘the bumfluff in the crack of England’. With a recommendation like that how could we not go. Thanks a lot for colouring our history even better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello cousin Noel 🙂 Yes, you would think it likely that your John and Thomas are the same as in my blog. How amazing that you found me through here. Yes, Stanley isn’t the most beautiful place in the world though it is in a very beautiful area (away from the remnants of industrial decay). Whilst you were in Stanley did you get to visit one of the best museums anywhere in the shape of the Beamish Open Air Museum? It is only about 2 miles from the centre of Stanley and is a great place. I did a brief blog post on it when I visited there about 2 years ago.



      • Noel Liddell says:

        Yes we did Stephen. Wonderful museum. We spoke wit some of the staff there who told us that there were still some Liddells in the area. Some pronounced it in the English way some in the Scottish. I note that Beamish, or at least the rights to the coal leases, was once owned by a Sir Thomas Liddell with his partners in the Grand Alliance. I think my strain were probably digging his coal.

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Stephen Liddel says:

    Hello Stephen. My name is also Stephen with the PH although I’m one of those that spell the surname Liddel. From what little I know of my ancestors most of the male names are either Stephen, Peter or Daniel. My grandfather Daniel Liddel’s name is on the Menin gate having been killed in 1917. My father was born in Croydon but was taken up to Burntisland Fife after WW1 by his mother as my grandfathers wish was to raise to kids in Scotland if he did not survive. I believe my Great, great grand father had a butchers shop in Edinburgh. I always find people appear to have difficulties pronouncing the name and have even been told I pronounce it wrong. Personally I have always been a Lid Del and not a Liddle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Stephen! Many thanks for your comments. It is strange to chat some someone with almost the precise same name as our surnames are quite rare. I thought you like to know that I think I have seen the name of your grandfather on the Menin Gate as I visit the WW1 battlefields quite often (see my old blog posts on Thiepval and other posts) and always look for my surname and seem to remember seeing Daniel Liddel. Liddell’s are definitely a far north of England/South of Scotland sort of name so I wonder if perhaps your Grandfather came to London for work. How bizarre that people tell you how to pronounce your own name. I too often find people pronouncing it wrongly. I assume it is just laziness as I have never actually met or come across anyone in history with the other pronunciation. Thanks for getting in touch.


    • Noel Liddell says:

      Heloo Stephen, When we visited the area some of the locals at the Beamish museum told us that there were still Liddells living in the area. Interestingly some of those telling us this pronounced it the Scottish way and thers the English. Since it has also changed spelling (Liddle, Liddell, Liddall, Little and so on) I guess it does not matter much how one says ti.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Did you enjoy the Beamish Museum? I always think it is a fabulous place to find in the middle of the countryside almost. Sometimes the different spellings come down even to people who couldn’t write very well misspelling names on birth certificates or the census!


  28. Stephen Liddel says:

    Yes I think my grandfather must have moved to London for work. When he signed up for army service he was employed at a large furniture store in Croydon, I have my suspicions that it may have been the one set on fire in the riots a few years ago. I have also visited the WW1 sites in France and Belgium a number of times, and always checked to WGGC cemetery books for names. I attended the Menin Gate memorial on the 100 year anniversary of my grandfathers death which as you’d appreciate had extra meaning for me. I was lucky enough to be able to shake the hand of one of the ‘twins’ and thank him and colleagues for their dedication. My grandfather was in the East Kent’s (Buffs). In the 1920s my grandmother took my father and his two older sisters up to Leith via St Cathrines Dock London. She settle in Burntisland where there were family members and was always referred to as the English Lady. She always put me in the mind of Queen Victoria as she was quite short and round, a very determined lady. My father Daniel was educated at Victoria School. Dunblane. My father ended up in Somerset where he married the widow of his WW2 friend and was father to my elder brother and sister. So we are spreading the name around (three sons) the South West of England.


  29. Marilyn says:

    We are watching the Queen Victoria series now! Very interesting lady!
    One of my Liddell (Hall) cousins son’s name is Daniel! I have seen it in our Liddell history book, too!!


  30. Karen Coupe says:

    Great read, very interesting. I have traced my Liddell/Liddle family back to Bywell/Newburn, Northumberland. 4 x great Grandfather was Robert Liddle. Itching to find a link to Alice!! My line moved down to Oxford, then to Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Susan Olmsted Ewell Alden says:

    Greetings! I am not related to the Liddell family, but do have an old pewter charger made by
    Joseph Liddell, silversmith & pewterer, from New York city, circa 1750; also, my mother’s
    ancestors came from Denmark circa 800AD, and settled in Essex, England (surname Olmsted).
    My mother’s English ancestors lived in Northumberland, near Wark and Falstone. Surnames:
    Nixon (reiver clan) and Nichol (farmers and shepherds).
    The Joseph Liddell family was thought to be one of the many Huguenots who fled to America
    to escape persecution by the Roman Catholics in France.


    • Marilyn Allan says:

      Interesting! We Liddells get around!! 😂 One thing that was funny when you were making comments about tourists was the one about towel warmers….when we were there and staying in a b&b in the Cotswolds, there was a towel warmer in the bathroom, but the room was freezing….no heat! I thought it was so backwards…..the people are supposed to be warm…..not the towels!!😂😂 Marilyn Sent from my iPhone



  32. Janet Orman says:

    Hello! My grandmother was a Liddell, and she had a brother named Stephen. I have a genealogy (that I think is correct) that goes back quite a way (1600s). My grandmother, born in 1880, spoke of her relatives at Ravensworth. I have lots of very old family pictures, some of my great grandparents (Edward Liddell, and Mary Jane Liddell – maiden name Waugh) if you are interested. All this is very interesting to me.


  33. Marilyn says:

    Ha!! We Liddells get around! Wonder where she lives??
    I need to start communicating with you soon about our plans to come there and what we want to do and see what you think! We are on the way to Mississippi to celebrate mama’s birthday! Will email you next week for advice!! Marilyn

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Christine Jarvey says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading about your family roots – Liddell. My own are bound up with Liddle. Could we be connected in some way despite the spelling? A distant ancestor from my family tree was Ralph Liddle. A Reeth, North Yorkshire, leadminer/farmer who travelled in search of gold to Australia in 1857. I’d really like to hear from you. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Christine, lovely to hear from you. I hope you’re keeping safe if you’re in Australia. Yes it is possible we may be related, Reeth though in North Yorkshire is only just over the county border from where the Liddell heartlands are in parts of Northumbria, Cumbria and areas of souther Scotland. A lot of the villages in the area only had sheep farming and mining as sources of employment and so used to a hard life with little prospects, the men often went to mining territories in Australia, South Africa, South America and the USA. More than once I have heard that those who lived 10 miles either side of Hadrians Wall had descendants who made the biggest impact on the world than any other area, primarily due to their tough upbringing and determination to succeed in their new homelands.


  35. knightlylife says:

    Good article but another important Lidell was John Ledall (variation of Lidell) who composed the “Ledall Roll” in Tudor times which was an instructional treatise on the use of the longsword.

    Sir Henry Bright 3rd Baronet of Ravensworth castle married married Catherine the daughter of Sir John Bright and His only surviving child. Upon his death he willed his estates to his grandson through Catherine, John Lidell, his estates. Consequently, John Lidell changed his name to John Bright and all the Lidells of this line, directly descended from the baron of Ravensworth were henceforth “Brights.”

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Hello from another Liddell! I’m living in Suffolk now with my branch of the family, but we still have close relatives living in the Scotland-England borders.

    My grandfather and his brother (and their families) are now in Suffolk (after moving about a bit), but their sister and her family have remained in the borders.

    My father is also a Stephen Liddell, however Alexander Liddell is the name that runs throughout the generations of my branch of the family.

    I’m actually planning a road trip up to Scotland as soon as lockdown is lifted, can you recommend any places I should visit?!


    • Marilyn Allan says:

      We need to find out about our early relatives! They all came from the same area! I know my great grandfather and his brothers came to the United States, but I have no information on their parents who lived in Scotland! Wish I could find out!! If either of you have any information, let me know!! Marilyn


  37. Stephen Liddle says:

    I enjoyed your blog, my last name is Liddle. I recently had a DNA update and it shows 18 percent Scottish. I was researching the origins of the sir name Liddle and I assume that it was originally Liddell. I am not sure when my ancestors on the Liddle side immigrated to the U.S.A but I know it was to the Midwest region sometime in the 1800s. Thank you for completing part of the puzzle. Stephen Liddle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked it. I know of relations and other likely distant related people of the same family names who went to places like Oklahoma, Utah and similar. I got an invite 2 years or so ago to to the city of Pittsburgh for a 250th anniversary party as a Liddell was one of the earlier mayors. The border between England and Scotland historically has often moved north and south. At one point Edinburgh was in the then Kingdom of what is now Northumberland in England. The name is spelling is likely due to someone being a little illiterate either at wherever a birth or marriage was registered and if the family could not read, they would not know that their surname had been misspelled. Great to meet you… cousin!


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