WHITTON and RITCH -Surname Studies and people from the Island of GRAEMSAY, Orkney

This web site has been designed to report the result of over 20 years research into my ancestry. My fathers surname was Whitton and his family lived in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, having moved there from Leslie in Fife to work in the weaving industry. The family originated pre 1750 in the region of Angus north of Dundee in Scotland. When my father was working in Orkney during the second world war he met my mother, whose surname was Ritch, in Stromness. Her parents both came from the small island of Graemsay, which is located between Stromness and Hoy and as such her side of the family is interlinked with many of the other families on both Graemsay and Hoy. Anyone researching a family from Graemsay should also find information of interest to them in this file. During my researches I have located substantial information about other families called WHITTON and RITCH, including people with surnames having slight variations in spelling. They have all been recorded in the hope that the information will be of use to other families. The information has been expanded with information about other families linked to either Ritch's or Whitton's so if you have such a surname in your family they may be located here. Details of over 60,000 people have been recorded. I must also thank the numerous contributors to my research, over the years. Their efforts have all been incorporated here. You know who you are and it would be unfair of me to mention only some of you. Thanks again! If you have additional information you can post a message. No matter what you might come across on the Internet, neither of the Ritch nor Whitton families are Clan Names and they have no Coats of Arms or Crests. There is an English Whitton crest but there are no links with Scottish families. At Morebattle near Kelso in the Scottish Borders there is a Whitton farm and its name is supposed to be related to a "de Whytton" but there is no proven connection with any Scottish families called Whitton. The English name Whitton and derivations comes from the Old English or Saxon "Dweller at the White Farm". The source of the Scottish name is unknown. Indications are that it originates from the Scottish County of Angus well before family records were recorded. The majority of non-Scottish Ritch's surnames come as a diminutive of the Christian name Richard or from families who came to Britain from Eastern Europe called Ritch or Rich. The source of the Scottish Ritch surname is fully explained in information recorded on Ivan Saunders site about his Ritch family. He outlines how there was a Covenanters shipwreck at Deerness in Orkney when 2 prisoners with a surname of Richard escaped and stayed on Orkney changing their names. One brother lived in Deerness and another on Hoy. This information has not been proven. Scotland had its share of both arrivals and leavers called Whitton. Whitten families came from Ireland and Whittom's travelled from England to work in the Clydeside shipyards. In the later part of the 19th century descendants of both the "native" Whittons and the others left mainly to cross the Atlantic sea to the USA and Canada to escape the slums of Dundee and Glasgow and the associated illnesses such as TB. In the 20th century they followed the main routes abroad mainly to Australia and New Zealand. The Ritch families had a different incentive. Coming from mainly tenant farmers in Orkney and Shetland the small plots of land they worked by hand were unable to sustain the large families and the highs and lows of the fishing stocks made employment hard to maintain, so some left to farm the plains of Canada. Some Adventurers joined the Hudson Bay Co. in Canada but most of these returned to Orkney. The Mariners, travelled the world but apart from those who stayed in the USA and New Zealand most returned home. The lure of gold and god were also evident and gold took people to South Africa, the Yucon and New Zealand whilst those who converted to the Mormon religion made their way to Salt Lake City across the Great Plains. There comes a point in any research project when the information dries up. This means that I am researching some Whitton and Ritch families to see if perhaps they have had some connection with Scotland. I have found a few but also some families that have no Scottish origins. Having undertaken the research I have added them to my records in case it is of any help to others. I have also located a few people with Ritch (not Richard) or Whitton as a Christian name. Some of these are related to families in my records so I have added them also. It is clear that sometimes the use of Whitton or Ritch as a christian name, is because of friendship with a family of that name, or because that was their employers surname. .

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