The Ridulfo Surname is a unique variant of the more common Italian surname Ridolfo
(and Ridolfi), which can be found all over Italy, but our Ridulfo spelling traces
exclusively to Corleone, Sicily. This has recently been confirmed through my research
of the San Martino Church records, where I was able to trace our Corleone Ridulfo
line back to the very first Ridolfo (Girolamo), who married someone in Corleone,
and henceforth the family name was spelled with a “u”. He was actually from a town
called Nicosia, about 90 miles to the east.
Ridulfo from Name Origin Research: Recorded in over fifty different spellings including
as examples Rolf, Roffe, Ruff and Ruffell in England, Rudolf and Rotlauf in Germany,
Rohlf in Switzerland, Ridulfo and Firidolfi in Italy, and Roelof in the Netherlands,
this is a surname of pre 7th century Nordic-Viking origins. It derives ultimately
from the personal name 'Hrodwulf', itself from the period in history known as The
Dark Ages, when names were largely pagan in ancestry, and tended to extoll the undoubted
virtues of godliness, strength and purpose. This particular name was composed of
the elements "hrod", meaning "renown" and "wulf", literally the wolf, and originally
may have referred to a particular warrior or chieftain. In the Norse language the
contracted form was "Hrolfr", and in Danish and Swedish "Rolf", and it was in these
forms that they reached Northern Europe in the 8th century. It is not absolutely
certain as to the first recording date of the hereditary surname, but it was amongst
the earliest of all surnames. Examples taken from authentic rolls and charters of
the medieval period include: Johan Rodolfi of Hamburg, Germany, in 1252, Robert Rolf,
of Battle, in the county of Sussex, England, in 1272, Jakob Rufi, given as being
a priest in Zurich, Switzerland, in the year 1300, and Johan Rudolf of Andelshoven,
Germany, in 1332. In the church registers of London, England, the marriage of John
Roffe and Elizabeth Blythe was recorded at St. Stephan's, Coleman Street, on November
3rd 1560. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation.
Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop",
often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Stefano Ridulfo is working on the early history of the Ridulfo's. Thus far, he says
that the Ridulfo's arrived in Sicily after 1070 when the Normans invaded the island
with King Ruggero, and probably more arrived after 1230 when King Federico II moved
in many Christian people to replace the Arabs. He has also found in the Archive
of Palermo some documents from 1200 about Ridulfo's leaving at that time from close
to the city of Messina. (I now presume he means “Ridolfo’s”).
Variants – In the US in the 1920’s and 30’s, it was not uncommon for Italians to
“Americanize” their names, spelling it more phonetically, in hopes of making it easier
to get a job, or to spell. Two of my great-grandfather’s three sons (including my
own grandfather) changed to Ridulfo to Ridolph, while one changed his to just Ridolf.
Several of the DeKalb Ridulfo’s changed theirs to Ridulph.
Beware of websites that advertise providing (i.e. for purchase) “your family crest”.
Other than some European royalty, I would be quite dubious of any kind of family
crest or coat of arms attributed to most surnames.