Select Rhodes Surname Genealogy

Here are some Rhodes stories and accounts over the years:

Gerard de Rodes and His Line

The Rodes family was said to have had Flemish origins.  Gerard de Rodes held the barony of Hornchurch in Lincolnshire in the early 13th century at the time of King John.  He was a leading baron of the time, even though his name did not show on the Magna Carta roll (he was apparently away on ambassadorial duties).

These Rodes spent much of their time in Flanders, but fought for the English Kings.  Sir John de Rodes returned to serve in King Edward's army against Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn; and Sir John Rodes, appointed master of the household of Edward the Black Prince, fought at Crecy in 1346 and Poitiers in 1356.

Later Rodes established themselves in Nottinghamshire and included the Elizabethan judge Sir Frances Rodes.  John Roades of this line became a Quaker and emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1686.

Cecil Rhodes's Ancestry

The earliest traceable direct ancestor of Cecil Rhodes was James Rhodes who lived in Snape Green, Staffordshire, around 1660. 

James’s grandson William came to London around 1720, farming property in the Gray's Inn and Regent's Park areas.  He died in 1787 and, in common with three subsequent generations, was buried at St. Pancras Old Church.  These three generations included son Thomas, grandson Samuel, and great grandson William. 

William and his two brothers started a brick-making business in Hackney in the early 1800’s.  William patented his own improvements to the brick process in 1824.  His children were born in Hackney.  The family later lived as tenants of Leyton Grange in Essex from 1829 to 1843. 

His eldest son, Francis William, was vicar of Bishops Stortford in Essex where most of his children were born. These included: 

  • Herbert, who joined his younger son prospecting for diamonds in Kimberley, but was accidentally killed while pioneering in the Lake Nyasa area  
  • Francis William, who joined the British army and, after fighting in various places in Africa, gained the rank of Colonel in 1889  
  • and Cecil John Rhodes himself.

Wilfred Rhodes the Cricketer

Wilfred Rhodes was Yorkshire cricket personified in the great period of the county's domination, shrewd, dour, but quick to seize an opportunity.  For Yorkshire he scored more than 30,000 runs, averaging 30 an innings and took 3,608 wickets at 16 runs each.  In his first Test match for England in 1899 he was last in the batting order.  Twelve years later he went in first and against Australia was Hobbs’ partner in the record first-wicket stand of 323. 

In his old age he lost his eyesight and found his tongue.  He accepted his affliction philosophically, and consoled himself by a flow of genial chatter never before heard from him.  He attended cricket as long as health would permit.

German Rhodes in America

There were many German immigrants to America in the 18th century who had names like Rhodes or adopted the Rhodes spelling.  Among them were:

  • Henry Rhoads, who was born In Germany in 1739 and died in Logan County, Kentucky in 1814.  He has been called “the godfather of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky."  
  • Henry Rhodes, who came from Frankfurt to America in 1750.  He died on the voyage; but his two sons, Harmon and John Henry, made it and settled in Huron, Pennsylvania.  
  • and George Rhoades, who came from the Palatinate to America also in 1750.  He stayed first in Pennsylvania and then moved onto New York.

A.G. Rhodes and Rhodes Hall

In the early days of Reconstruction, a young man named Amos Giles Rhodes moved into Atlanta from Kentucky, bringing with him all he owned: a horse and buggy, $75 in cash, and (according to company lore) "a gold watch of uncertain value." 

In the fall of 1875 he contracted with the owner of a small furniture manufacturing company to produce a line of furnishings and he opened the first Rhodes Furniture Store in Atlanta.  He was just twenty five years old. 

Most of his customers were poor.  But he had a brainwave.  He introduced one of the first installment payment plans in business history.  His company began to grow along with Atlanta and it soon became a leading business of this brash young city. 

Rhodes Hall is A.G. Rhodes’s legacy. 
This Romanesque Revival house occupies a prominent location on Peachtree Street in Atlanta and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The building was inspired by the Rhineland castles that Rhodes had admired on a trip to Europe in the late 1890’s.  It was built with Stone Mountain granite, incorporating medieval Romanesque, Victorian, and Arts and Crafts designs, as well as the necessary adaptations needed for an early 20th century home.

The Rhodes Brothers in New Zealand

William Barnard, the oldest of the four Rhodes brothers, had led the way to New Zealand and encouraged his brothers to follow. To one of his brothers he offered this advice: 

“You must be enterprising, obliging, and not afraid of hard work, nor show any improper pride.  Above all things avoid public houses and whores!” 

William made his first visit to New Zealand in 1836 on a whaler.  He returned three years later on the barque Eleanor, bringing forty Durham cattle with which to establish the first cattle station
on South Island.  In 1840 he set himself up in Wellington, built a wharf there and started trading as W. B. Rhodes and Co. 

George Rhodes, the second of the brothers to reach New Zealand, arrived in 1843 and was joined
on South Island by Robert in 1850; while William directed the company affairs from Wellington.  The fourth brother Joseph, who had run away to sea as a youth, joined his brother William in 1843 and was a butcher in Wellington.  He afterwards spent some years in Australia, but returned to New Zealand and became a man of property in Hawke's Bay. 

Robert’s son Robert Heaton, who later became Sir Heaton Rhodes, began a long political career in New Zealand in 1899 and held ministerial rank from 1912 to 1925.  He bred pedigree cattle at Otahuna in Taitapu and owned one of the finest known collections of New Zealand postage stamps.

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