Thomas Ridout (1754-1829) was born in Sherbourne, Dorset, England, and came to Maryland in 1774. During the American Revolution he was able to carry on his trading enterprises, but on a trip to the American frontier in 1787 he was captured by Shawnee Indians who were dwelling on the Ohio River. Later he went to Detroit and then to Montreal where he was well received and married the daughter of a Loyalist. Thomas's first wife was Isabella, sister-in-law of John Donovan, and his second, Mary Campbell.
Samuel Smith Ridout (1778-1855), who was born in Annapolis, Maryland, was the only child of the first marriage, and seven children were born of the second marriage: George, Thomas Gibbs, John, William Horatio, Charles and Francis. By 1792 Thomas Ridout and his family were residing near Sorel, Lower Canada, where his son Thomas Gibbs Ridout was born. In that year he was offered a position in the commissariat and the family moved to Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake), and then to York (Toronto) in 1797.
Thomas Ridout held many offices, including registrar of the Home District, sergeant at arms to the Legislative Assembly, captain of militia, clerk of the peace for the Home District, surveyor general, member of the Legislative Assembly for York and Simcoe, and member of the Legislative Council.
Thomas Gibbs Ridout was educated by Rev. John Strachan at his grammar school in Cornwall. When the War of 1812-1814 with the United States began, he joined the 3rd Regiment of York Militia and in 1814 was appointed Deputy Assistant Commissary-General. His 14-year old brother John joined him as his confidential clerk and it was John who, at the age of 18, was killed by Samuel Peters Jarvis in a duel.
In 1821 he was offered the position of first cashier or general manager of the newly incorporated Bank of Upper Canada, and with this position, Ridout was launched on his career in banking, railways, and land speculation. In 1850 the Bank of Upper Canada became the official government bank and Ridout remained in his position until 1861, the year in which he died. His banking position and family contacts placed him in the upper strata of York society as a second generation member of the Family Compact.
The collection consists of family and business correspondence, legal documents and other records. Much of the material pertains to Samuel Ridout, son of Thomas Ridout, who became sheriff of the County of York and registrar of deeds for the same county, and to Thomas Gibbs Ridout, a prominent banker. Included are accounts; household expenses; appointments; licences; commissions; estate documents relating to members of the Ridout family; legal documents such as powers of attorney, agreements, bonds, marriage settlements and indentures; militia records - Return of Savings of Fuel of Several Companies of Militia, Muster Roll of Capt. Ridout's company - 3rd Regiment, York Militia, and the Acquittance Roll of the same; documents relating to the sheriff's department, for example, a warrant to discharge, and a Free Pardon for Mary Thompson; Québec Almanac, with annotations by Thomas Ridout, 1813; newspaper clippings, including obituary notices for Laura, the daughter of Thomas Gibbs Ridout, and for Vernon Wordsworth; miscellaneous documents, such as the number of inhabitants in the Home District, Upper Canada, 1809; Report to Sir Peregrine Maitland concerning the manner in which the crown lands were granted in Upper Canada; Rules for the Literacy
Society, York; petition for a cemetery; land grants to Joseph Card (Chard), Jethro
Jackson, James Varest, and Alexander Shaw for 100 acres; Return of the Register for the
County of York; memorial from the People's Building Society, Toronto; a list of governors who administered Upper Canada, 1792-1836; Barrister Roll; and from the City Registry Office, abstract of all instruments which appear to have been registered in this office upon lots 13-18 on the west side of Seaton Street - includes John Ridout
Additional Ridout family papers include: Thomas Ridout Papers, consisting of a typescript diary, 1788, and notebook, 1792-1797; Thomas Gibbs Ridout Papers, containing diaries, 1811, 1822 and 1839; household accounts, 1843-1873; and correspondence and genealogical information and charts. Significant subjects mentioned are the American Revolution, Indians, John Strachan, York politics, Surveyor General Wyatt, Joseph Wilcocks, John Mills Jackson, Francis Gore, the War of 1812, and the Rebellion of 1837.