About the RODDY-RUDDY One-Name Study

My research into the RODDY name and associated families is motivated by my own surname, but more importantly, my family’s attempts over the years to discover our true connection to a RODDY or RUDDY family. My Great-Grandfather Harry Francis RODDY took the RODDY surname sometime before his 20th birthday and grew up with the belief that his father was “Charles RODDY, born near London, England.” His mother, Katharine Mary Burns, apparently told people that her first husband died sometime before Harry’s 2nd birthday. While researching this story and looking for the “correct” Charles RODDY, we have become more and more convinced that the child was conceived out of wed-lock. To date we have been unable to find any record of Kate Burn’s first marriage to Charles RODDY, or anyone else for that matter. We also cannot find a birth record of Harry RODDY that matches information he provided his entire life on military and other job records other than that of an un-named baby boy born to “Katie Burns” about a month later with no father’s name provided. This mystery has led me to research all RODDY families that lived near the Burns family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, especially during the years near Harry’s conception and birth at the end of the 1870’s. In an attempt to find the most likely father and then research any living male descendents for a DNA test that might confirm our relation, I have also researched RODDY and RUDDY families in the United States, Ireland and England during the later half of the 1800’s. With all of this information, and still no answer to my relationship to any RODDY or RUDDY family past the four generations to my Great-Grand Father, I decided to continue broadening my research and officially publish my results in hopes of solving this mystery and possibly helping others along the way. The name was registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies in 2011.


The registered variants of the name are RODDY and RUDDY.

On a recent visit to Ireland in search of the County of origin of a particular RODDY family, it became clear to me that there is little distinction in the Irish pronunciation between RODDY and RUDDY. As an American, I could hardly tell the difference between these variations when spoken by an Irish man or woman, but supposedly they can. Most acknowledge, however, that almost all the RODDY and RUDDY families are related, especially in and near County Louth, Ireland. In my research I have discovered members of the same family that have either spelling used by parish priests as they recorded marriages and baptisms. Census workers and immigration recorders also seem to write down what they hear and in the early to mid 1800’s, a lot of the Irish families were illiterate and would go along with what ever spelling was provided.

During the course of my research, I have found a number of different spellings of both of these names including, but not limited to: Roddye, Roddey, Roddie, Rody, Ruddie, etc. I have also found transcription errors, usually due to difficult handwritting, including: Raddy, Reddy, Rossy, and evey Koddy. The variant Rhody is not covered in this research as it appears unrelated and of Prussian origin.

While I have not confirmed the linkage, I have found a trend for the first occurance of Roddy and Ruddy in UK baptism and christening records to be associated with Rodd and Rudd families. The Rodd families seem to have sprung up in the early 1500s, first in the greater Cornwall/Devon/Somerset counties and then migrated towards the center of the country. The Rudd families started in Norfolk, then migrated towards the counties north of London including Hertford, Buckingham, Oxford and Berkshire. A small group of Rudd(ie) families moved up north towrd York and the Irish Sea, and may be where the Irish Roddy and Ruddy families came from. Much more work must be done to prove this theory, however.

Origin of the surname

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



From: “The Internet Surname Database”

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2013


"This name, with variant spellings Rodie, Rhoddie, RODDY and RUDDY, has two distinct possible origins, the first being an Anglicization of the Olde Gaelic "O'Rodochain", written in modern Irish as O' Rodaigh. The Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "male descendant of ", plus the genitive form of the personal byname "Rodach", from "rod" meaning "strong". Two distinct septs of this name existed in Ireland, one belonged to Fenagh in County Leitrim where the family held church lands and maintained the resident priests for generations. The other sept were of the Ui Bhreasail branch of Muintir Banna (an ancient tribal name for the descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages, 4th Century High King of Ireland). Tir RODDY in the parish of Taughboyne, County Donegal, locates the sept. The second distinct possibility is that Rod(d)ie is a double diminutive of the Olde German personal name Roderick, a compound of "hrod", renown and "ric", power. On November 5th 1745, John Rodie, an infant, was christened in St. Peter's and St. Kevin's, Dublin, and on August 16th 1752, Mary, daughter of James Roddie, was christened in St. Andrew's, Holborn, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Tadhg O' RODY of County Leitrim, which was dated 1683, in "Dublin Society's Chorographical Survey", during the reign of King Charles 11 of England, known as "The Merry Monarch", 1660 - Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.1685."



From: “House of Names”


Origin Displayed: English


The surname RODDY is of several possible Origins. Firstly, it is derived from “Rodd,” the name of a village in Herefordshire; in this case, the original bearer of the name would have been someone who hailed from this region. Alternatively, the name may be derived from the Old English “roda,” meaning “clearing in a forest;” in this instance, it is likely that the progenitor of the name lived in such an area. Finally, the name may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon personal name “Rod,” which is itself derived from the German “Hrod,” meaning “fame.”


Spelling variations of this family name include: Rodd, Rod, Rode, Rodde, Rodda, and others.


First found in Herefordshire, where the family was seated from early times. The name first appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


Some of the first settlers of this family name or some of its variants were: Jeremy Rod, who settled in Virginia in 1630; as did John Rodd in 1670; Jacob Rod, who immigrated to Maryland in 1764; William Rodd, who came to Philadelphia in 1774.



From: “Coat of Arms Store”


The surname of RODDY was derived from the Old English word 'rodu' and was a locational name from either Rhode in County Devon or from Rhodes, the name of two estates, one between Prestwich and Ringley and the other near Middleton. This was a common entry in Yorkshire records. It was a topographic name for someone who lived in a clearing in woodland. There does not appear to be any connection to the modern English 'road' which was not used of a thoroughfare on land until the 16th century. The name was originally derived from the Old French word 'rode' and was probably brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. Habitation names are derived from names denoting towns, villages, farmsteads or other named places, which include rivers, houses with signs on them, regions, or whole counties. The original bearer of the name who stayed in his area might be known by the name of his farm, or the locality in the parish; someone who moved to another town might be known by the name of his village; while someone who moved to another county could acquire the name of that county or the region from which he originated. Early records of the name mention Hugh de Rodes who was recorded in the year 1319 in County Devon. William Rhodes of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. A later instance of the name mentions Robert Roades of Lancashire who was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1660. Occasionally the name was used as a metonymic occupational name for a wheelwright, or for someone who lived by the water-wheel. John Rhoddie was tidesman at Garlieston, Scotland in the year 1792, and the first form of the name found in Inverness was RODDY. In Ireland the name was a variant of the name RODDY, from the gaelic O'Rodaigh. This name was found in County Leitrim, particularly associated with Fermagh. O'RODDY of Donegal, another eranagh family, is thought to be of different origin. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames: they came into being fairly generally in the eleventh century and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000.




From: “The Historical Research Center”

(purchased in Ireland)



The English surname RODDY is actually of Gaelic origin and belongs to that group of surnames which is derived from a nickname based on a personal attribute or physical characteristic of the first bearer. In this case the surname comes from the Irish or Scots Gaelic word “rod” meaning “strong” and the surname Rodaigh, as it is spelt in its original form, was given to one who was renowned for his muscular frame and acts of great strength. This surname is also anglicized to RUDDY, Rodie and occasionally Reddy, and is sometimes found with the patronymic indicator “O" as in O'RODDY, meaning “a descendent of Rodaigh." In Ireland the surname is found mainly in the counties of Leitrim and Donegal where the family played an important role as a leading sept of the Ui Bhreasail branch of the Muintir Banna. They can be traced back to Niall of the Nine Hostages in the year 379 AD. In Scotland the origin of this surname can be traced to Wingtownshire, although many families bearing the surname RODDY are found to be descended from a father named Roderick. Thus this surname may also mean simply "son of Roderick" or "son of RODDY.” RODDY and Roddie are particular to Inverness and records of this derivation in Scotland date back to the eighteenth century. The surname probably came to England through Scottish settlers at some point in the eighteenth century after the Act of Union created a “United Kingdom" of England, Scotland and Wales in 1707. There is a branch of Scottish origin in Liverpool whose arms are given below.


Blazon of Arms:   Argent on a chevron gules between three branches of rowan tree (or mountain

                              Ash) proper, as many crescents or.


                              Note: The rowan tree is traditionally a charm against witchcraft, but in this

                              Case it denotes Protection. The crescents denote Victory.


Crest:                    A roebuck proper.

Motto:                  Spero meliora          (“I hope for better things”)



Historical occurrences

There are few RODDY’s who have any claim to fame. On a recent visit to Ireland, I discovered a reference to Martin RODDY (1883-1948) in the Dictionary of Irish Biography, edited by James McGuire and James Quinn (Published by Royal Irish Academy, 2009, by Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-19983-4). The biography indicates that Martin was a politician, publisher, and farmer. “Born 9 December 1883 at Breeogue, Kilmacowen, Co. Sligo, eldest son among at least four sons and two daughters of Patrick Roddy, farmer, and Jane Roddy (nee O’Hara). The family were long established and prominent in the county.” A small amount of information can also be found on-line at

The most famous American bearing the RODDY surname is probably Colonel James Roddy, who seems to be patriarch of the Tennessee RODDYs. The following unverified information is quoted from “The Family of Colonel James Roddy” found on the web in December 2011 (last updated in 1999):

“A James Roddy born 1710 in Ireland arrived in Pennsylvania and is noted
in the first assessment list of Donegal Township, Lancaster Cty, Pa 1723,
which is now Dauphin Cty.  James Roddy removed to Iredell Cty, NC in 1753.
There was an Alexander Roddy and James Roddy in Township of Derry, Pa in 1744.
Alexander Roddy was married to Mary Candor and their children were:
                   Rosanna Roddy married to John Montgomery
                   Mary Roddy married Robert Cree
                   James Roddy
                   Samuel Roddy
                   John Roddy, a revolutionary soldier who died at Valley Forge
Alexander Roddy, sr went to Spartanburg, Va where he died in 1786.  His son
James Roddy owned the mill.
Colonel James Roddy had a brother named William Roddy.  James Roddy received
a land grant in Jefferson Cty, Tn (later Hamlin Cty)”


Another quote worth adding here was taken from the Roddy Family Genealogy Forum found on the web in December 2011 (posted 13 Dec 2001):

"The Roddye family is one of the most ancient in Ireland and traces its descent from Melesius through Ficheallach, who was the ancestor of O'Rodoighe, the name having been anglicized into O'Roddy, Roddye, Reddy and Ruddy.
The American Roddyes settled first in Pennsylvania and from there scattered through the various colonies. Col. James Roddye, the ancestorof the Tennessee family here traced, was born about the year 1742. He was one of the early settlers in the Watauga Settlement and was a member of Capt. Wm. Beans company which was active in Washington County in 1778. Because of his Whig sentiments, his life was threatened by the Tory leader, Grimes, and for this and other outrages the Tories were driven from the Watauga Valley."
Now a quote from, The United States Biographical Dictionary, Missouri 1878
"Jesse Roddye was the son of Colonel James Roddye, who emigrated from England to America long prior to the Revolution. His first wife was said to have been a sister of Daniel Boone, by whom he had ten children; his second wife was a Russell, from Virginia. Most of his children moved South; one son and two daughters settled in New Orleans; both daughters married Lees, of Virginia. Colonel James Roddye was a Whig and received his title as an officer in the Revolutionary War; he was also a member of the state constitutional convention of Virginia, and died in 1824"


Frequency of the name

During the census years of 1850/51 in the UK, Canada, and USA there were 703 individuals recorded with the “RODDY” surname and slightly less than half that number at 328 with the “RUDDY” surname, totaling over 1000 individuals (the Irish census for this period was destroyed and is not available). By the census years of 1900/01, there were 3,660 “RODDY” and 3155 “RUDDY” individuals in the same countries, including the Republic of Ireland. There is indication that the RODDY/RUDDY surname immigrated to Australia and other British colonies, but research is still ongoing to determine accurate numbers. To date, the research has produced no instances of RODDY families that did not ultimately originate from Ireland or the UK.

Of specific note, there are a number of RODDY families that derived their name as a result of slavery in the early to mid-1800’s in the US. For example, there are 113 individuals with the last name RODDY in the 1850 US Federal Census Slave Schedules. The majority of these slaves were owned by RODDY families living in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Louisiana.

According to an ONS database there were some 1172 “RODDY” individuals as of September 2002 in England and Wales. This gives a frequency of 1 in 46,425 or 0.0022% of the population, ranked the 5,840th most common name in England and Wales. The same data base indicates there were 1518 “RUDDY” individuals at the same date with a frequency of 1 in 35,842 or 0.0028%, ranked 4,707.

The US Census made Surname frequency information available for the year 2000, available at

The RODDY name had the following frequency:





Number of occurrences


Proportion per 100,000 people for name


Cumulative proportion per 100,000 people


Percent Non-Hispanic White Only


Percent Non-Hispanic Black Only


Percent Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only


Percent Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native Only


Percent Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races


Percent Hispanic Origin



The RUDDY name had the following frequency:





Number of occurrences


Proportion per 100,000 people for name


Cumulative proportion per 100,000 people


Percent Non-Hispanic White Only


Percent Non-Hispanic Black Only


Percent Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only


Percent Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native Only


Percent Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races


Percent Hispanic Origin



Based on the above information, it is estimated that there are on the order of 10,000 to 20,000 individuals using the RODDY surname throughout the world today.


Distribution of the name

In 1850/51, over 62% of RODDY individuals were recorded in the US Census, while almost 30% were recorded in the UK. Canada had just over 8% of the RODDY individuals in 1851. The 1851 census for Ireland were destroyed and no census information is available during the 1850/51 time frame. In 1900/01, just over 63% of RODDY individuals were recorded in the US Census, but the UK percentage dropped to around 12.5%. Canada had 3% and the now-available Irish RODDY individuals accounted for over 21%.

The rate of change for the US RODDY population between 1850 and 1900 was 2308 / 438 = 527%. The same rate of change for the UK was 456 / 207 = 220%. If the Irish 1901 numbers are not included, the overall total rate of change for RODDY was (3660-779) / 703 = 410%. Based on this, one could estimate that the number of RODDY individuals in Ireland in 1851 was around 779 / 410% = 190, but this does not account for massive death and emigration from Ireland to the US during the famine from 1845 – 1852.


While conducting the research, I also gathered data for the RODY variant of the name. This variant may need to be added in the future as it seems to be associated with various RODDY families.

US Census Survey Results:






    6 families

    0 families

    2 families


    7      "

    3       "

    0       "


  12       "

    1       "

    10       "


  24       "

    0       "

    3       "


  52       "

    8       "

  15       "


  43       "

    5       "

  21       "


  438 individuals

  116 individuals

  120 individuals


  605      "

  244      "

  191      "


1048      "

  535      "

  395      "


1388      "

  812      "

  255      "

1890 (partial)

      0      "

      0      "

      4      "


2308      "

1435      "

  505      "


2724      "

1680      "

  536      "


3042      "

1922      "

  727      "


3438      "

2029      "

  552      "


Canada Census Survey Results:






  58 individuals

  37 individuals

24 individuals


  70      "

  98      "

13      "


  90      "

  96      "

78      "


127      "

102      "

20      "


130      "

122      "

53      "


117      "

133      "

66      "


137      "

146      "

78      "


UK Census Survey Results:






  78 individuals

  77 individuals

52 individuals


  207      "

  175      "

66      "


  209      "

  242      "

65      "


  276      "

  303      "

66      "


297      "

493      "

5      "


362      "

530      "

21      "


456      "

576      "

38      "


75      "

117      "

2      "


Ireland Census Survey Results:






779 individuals

1011 individuals

0 individuals


763      "

1067      "

0      "


Total Census Survey Results (UK, US, Canada):






  703 individuals

  328 individuals

210 individuals


3660      "

3146      "

609      "

Ireland 1766 Religious Census Survey Results:

3 RODDY - Edmond, James, and Pat all from Carlingford, Louth

1 RUDDY - James from Kildemock, Louth

1 RODY - Tyrone from Dungannon, Armagh

Roddy and Ruddy Genealogical Links:



Rootsweb Roddy Message Boards

Rootsweb Ruddy Message Boards

Roddy mailing list on RootsWeb

Ruddy mailing list on RootsWeb

Roddy Family Genealogy Forum

Ruddy Family Genealogy Forum

RODDY Genealogy Queries at CousinConnect

RUDDY Genealogy Queries at CousinConnect

Roddy-Ruddy One-Name Study Data Visualization Links:

Roddy One-Name Study TEST Data Display with SIMILE Timemap Widgets

1850 US Census Roddy Families with SIMILE Exhibit Widgets

Early Roddy and Ruddy Origins in the 16th Century with SIMILE Exhibit Widgets


Contact details

For further information on this One-Name Study, please contact:

18512 N Valley Rd
Nine Mile Falls, WA


E-mail: roddy (at) one-name (dot) org

NOTE: this email link is written out to prevent spam-bots from attacking the mail link. Remove all spaces and replace the (at) with @ and (dot) with a period.