Ricketts of Llanwddyn

The earliest traced Rickett of Llanwddyn was John Ricket born circa 1655.

The Rickett surname came into prominence in the British Isles in the 16th century coinciding with the first migration of the Huguenots from France. The Huguenots were French Protestants who followed the teachings of John Calvin (1509-64). The growth of Calvinism in France during the sixteenth century led to a long period of persecution with 40,000 - 50,000 Huguenots escaping to the British Isles. Tradition has it that many Huguenots having surnames such as Rickett, Bebb and Wigley came to mid Wales. Many Huguenots were skilled craftsmen and noted for their skills in weaving. Huguenot families contributed to the development of the flannel industry in mid Wales; the word flannel is said to be derived from the Welsh word 'gwlanen'. Maybe our John Ricket was of Huguenot origin. However, the late 17th century also coincided with the period of fixing of Welsh surnames.

The Rickett surname could have a Welsh patronymic based origin; therefore, John Ricket could have been known as John ap Ricket (i.e. John son of Ricket). The name is ultimately derived from the personal name "Richard". The Ricket surname has changed within the various branches of the family tree, the derivatives being Rickets, Rickett and Ricketts.

Little is known of the family's circumstances in the 18th century except from that we can deduce from the recording of baptisms, marriages and deaths in the parish of Llanwddyn. We know that Jane Rickett born in Llanwddyn in 1752 was the mother in law of Edward Thomas the brother of Ann Griffiths (nee Thomas) (1776 - 1805) the famous Welsh hymn writer. Edward Thomas obtained notoriety in 1801 for the murder of a neighbouring farmer.

Some of the family migrated to the USA. David Rickett of Llanwddyn (1821 - 1898) was well known in the Welsh community in Minnesota and was associated with the Welsh chapel on Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis; other members of the Rickett family emigrated to the same area of the USA.

The 1841 census shows two Rickett families living in Llanwddyn, being Thomas Rickett (1791 - 1873) and family living at Glanrafon and Thomas Rickett (b. 1818) and family living at Tyisaf, Llanwddyn. The only Rickett family residing at Llanwddwn during the 1881 census was that of Thomas Rickett (b. 1818) living at 4 Fishing Street, Llanwddyn.


Fishing Street, Llanwddyn (1880s)


The Liverpool Corporation Waterworks Act was passed by parliament in 1880 to create the reservoir in the Vyrnwy Valley at Llanwddyn to supply water to Liverpool. The work began in 1881. The dam was completed in 1888; as Lake Vyrnwy started to form, the last few residents moved out. The old - now submerged - Llanwddyn village consisted of St John's Church, two chapels, three pubs, at least two shops, one of which contained a post office, and about 37 houses. No formal consultation was carried out among the people of Llanwddyn; families were forced out including Thomas Rickett (b. 1818) and his wife Mary.

There was much deliberation on whether to leave the remains of dead in the old graveyard under water; however, it was decided that re-interment would take place. The new graveyard was opened next to the new church of St Wddyn, not far from the eastern end of the dam. The human remains were gathered and transferred to the new cemetery in a process that took over three years. The Rickett graves can be seen in the new cemetery.

Thomas Rickett's son Ellis moved to live in Llanfyllin but came back to live in the valley and bring up a family at Bryndu and Glyndu, both situated near the dam. Ellis Rickett was one of the last descendants bearing the Rickett name to live in Llanwddyn.