Select Rhodes Surname Genealogy

Rhodes, from the Old English rod meaning "clearing," may describe someone who lived by a clearing; or it is locational - from the early place-name of Rodewelle in Lincolnshire or from the later Rhodes in Yorkshire or Lancashire. 

Early spellings were Rhode, Rhoads, Rodes and Roads, as well as Rhodes.  The pronunciation tended to be "Roids."  The surname has no connection with the English word road meaning "highway." 

Rhode is also a surname in Germany where it is thought to have come from a town or village of that name near Lubeck.

Select Rhodes Resources on The Internet

Select Rhodes Ancestry

England.  There was an early Rhodes presence in Lincolnshire.  Gerard de Rodes, a feudal baron, resided at Horncastle in Lincolnshire in the early 13th century.  Much later on, Daniel Rhodes was three times mayor of Boston in Lincolnshire between 1665 and 1686.

Meanwhile the Rodes family also held sway in Nottinghamshire where William de Rodes was the first rector at Clifton in 1242.  By 1500 they were established at Staveley in Derbyshire.  Sir Francis Rodes built Barlborough Hall near Chesterfield in 1584.  The line of Rodes baronets here became extinct in 1743

Yorkshire.  However, the largest number of Rodes and Rhodes came from Yorkshire, and mainly, it would appear, from the West Riding.  Almost half of the Rhodes in England were living in Yorkshire at the time of the 1891 census.  An early name was Thomas de Rodes of Thorp near Rotherham, recorded in the 13th century. 

It was said that well-educated Yorkshire ministers would correct the name and spelt it "Rhodes," inserting the "h" and thereby quietly demonstrate their knowledge of Greek.  Yorkshire Rhodes from the 17th century included:
  • the Rhodes at Gomersal near Bradford who date from 1657.
  • the Rhodes family beginning with Thomas Rhodes, born around 1724 at Ledsham near Castleford.
  • another Rhodes family beginning with John Rhodes, born in 1786 at Flockton chapel near Wakefield.
  • William Rhodes the playwright, known for his popular burlesque Bombastes Furioso, born in 1772 in Leeds.
  • a Rhodes family that was landed gentry at that time at Bramhope Hall near Leeds.
  • while the famous cricketer Wilfred Rhodes came from the village of Kirkheaton near Huddersfield. 
ElsewhereCecil Rhodes' ancestry has been traced back to James Rhodes in Staffordshire in the mid-1600's.  These Rhodes later moved to London and then to Essex.  Cecil set out with his brother Herbert in 1871 to prospect for diamonds in the Cape Colony.  There he was to stamp his name on history.

.   It was said that a Rhodes was Sebastian Cabot's pilot and it was after him that the state of Rhode Island was named.  Two early New England settlers were:
  • Zachariah Rhodes from Lancashire who had been imprisoned for a short time in Boston for openly remarking: "the court has naught to do in matters of religion" and, being banished from Massachusetts, moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1644. 
  • and Henry Rhoades, also from Lancashire, who arrived in the late 1630's and settled in Lynn, Massachusetts. 
Both Zachariah and Henry have a large number of descendants.

Early Rodes/Rhodes arrivals from the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire area were: 
  • John Rhodes who arrived in Virginia via the Channel Islands in the 1630ís and settled in Middlesex county.
  • Francis Rodes who arrived in Maryland in 1671, but may have returned to England later.  His younger brother Charles came to Virginia in the 1690ís and did stay.  
  • while John Roades, a Quaker, arrived in Fayette county, Pennsylvania also in the 1690ís.
Swiss and German.  The John Rhodes, a Mennonite minister, who came to the Shenandoah valley in Virginia from Switzerland in 1729 was originally, it is believed, Hans Denk Roodt.   He was killed in an Indian massacre in 1764. 

"John Rhodes was shot while standing in his doorway.  Eve Albright Rhodes and a son were killed in the yard.  Five other children were killed.  Eight children survived."  

A marker was erected on the site where this happened in 1985.

Ellis Rhode published his The Rhodes Family in America in 1959.  It covered the descendants of John Rhode who came to South Carolina from Germany in the 1770's and later moved to Ohio and Indiana.  Family tradition has it that he came to America as a young man and enlisted in the Revolutionary War.  Many other Rhodes (or similar sounding names) came from Germany to America in the 18th century.

New ZealandThe four Rhodes brothers - William, Robert, George, and Joseph - were the sons of William Rhodes, a tenant farmer in Yorkshire.  They had come to New Zealand in the days before organized settlement (William arriving as early as 1836) and played an active part in the early political, business and farming life of the country.  It was said that they were men of shrewd judgment, bustling energy, and full of Yorkshire determination.  All of them amassed considerable wealth.  Their descendants today in New Zealand are numerous.

Select Rhodes Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Rhodes Names

William Rhodes
was the first very successful entrepreneur of the New Zealand  colony.
Cecil Rhodes was a British colonial financier and statesman in South Africa.  As Prime Minister of the Cape Colony in the 1890's he helped to extend British territory north into what was then called Rhodesia.
Wilfred Rhodes was a Yorkshire and England cricketer who took over 4,000 wickets with his slow bowling over his career.
Zandra Rhodes is a contemporary English fashion designer.

Select Rhodes Today
  • 35,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 33,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page