Ratliff Family History


Compiled by: Nicole Ratliff Cox

Our family roots can be traced back to France around approximately the year 1020. Ivo De Tailbois, Known as “Baron of Kendal”, brother of the Earl of Anjou, went to England in 1066. His wife Lucia was the daughter of Earl Aelfgar, who was the son of Godifu “Lady Godiva”. Ivo’s son, Nicholas Fitz-Gilbert De Tailbois, was a knight who was given the Manor of Radeclive, and may have built Radcliffe Tower, in the village of Radcliffe in Lancashire, England. Nicholas took the name “de Radcliffe” meaning of, or from, Radcliffe. Eventually the last name Tailbois was dropped and Radcliffe took its place in the family lineage. 

Radcliffe is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of BuryGreater Manchester, England. It lies in the Irwell Valley of Manchester. Ordsall was another section of town within Manchester.

Historically a part of Lancashire, evidence of MesolithicRoman and Norman activity has been found in Radcliffe and its surroundings. A Roman road passes through the area, along the border between Radcliffe and Bury. Radcliffe appears in an entry of the Domesday Book as “Radeclive” and in the High Middle Ages formed a small parish and township centered on the Church of St Mary and the manorial Radcliffe Tower, both of which are Grade I listed buildings.

Coal lies under the area of mines opened in the Industrial Revolution, providing fuel for the cotton spinning and papermaking industries. By the mid-19th century, Radcliffe was an important mill town with cotton mills, bleach works and a road, canal and railway network.

From then on for many centuries, the Radcliffe’s remained prominent knights in Lancashire, England. 

Richard Radcliffe, born between 1301 and 1324, was one of the greatest landowners in the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire, for in addition to the wide domains that his wife brought him, he had acquired other portions of the former lands of his own family. Besides Ordsall, he held the manor of Hope within Pendleton, a messuage and 60 acres of land, held by knight’s service and a rent of four pounds and two shillings. Richard was drowned in Rossendale Water (present day River Irwell), while exercising his official duties, on the Thursday before the feast of St. Margaret in 1380. 

The Radcliffe family remained in Ordsall (an inner section of Manchester, England) until the 1600’s.

Sir John Radcliffe of Ordsall was but fifty-three years of age when he died at Ordsall, on Janary 19, 1589. On the February 11th, his remains were interred, as desired in his will, in the Church at Manchester, ‘betwixte the quire door and the stepps amoungst mine ancestors’. His monumental brass is still preserved in the chapter-house of the Cathedral. In his will he reveals his concern for the large family of tender years he was leaving behind him, and his sincere religious faith.

The next generation began with Richard John Ratcliffe, born July 29, 1661 in Chapel Hill, Rossendale, Lancshire, England. He married Mary Caterne on March 13, 1691, in Talbot County, Maryland. They had three children during their marriage: Richard, Steven and Robert.

Richard John Ratcliffe boarded the ship Submission at Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on Sept 16, 1682, “bound for the Delaware river or elsewhere in Pennsylvania. However, the captain, James Settles, did not deliver his passengers to Pennsylvania. The passengers and baggage were unloaded at Choptank, Maryland on November 10, 1682. It appears that Richard paid four pounds and five shillings for his passage. He died on June 1, 1721, in St. Michaels, Maryland, at the age of 59.

While many of the European immigrants from the 1600’s were indentured slaves, the rest were “aristocrats.” The simple note showing that Richard paid four pounds and five shillings shows he was not among the slaves. To understand why an aristocrat would leave their homeland for the unknown “new land,” one must understand what was happening in Europe at that time. Note: there is no conversion of “four pounds and five shillings” in 17th century to today’s American dollar.

In 1620, the Plymouth Colony was founded by the Mayflower Pilgrims. None of our Radcliffe/Ratliff ancestors appear on the Mayflower lists. In 1634, Maryland was settled by George Calvert and Lord Baltimore. Migrants were Catholics, Anglicans and Baptists. In 1636 the Connecticut Colony founded by Puritan Thomas Hooker. And from 1642 to 1651 many English migrants returned to England to fight in the English Civil War. In 1689, the English Bill of Rights was passed and many of its principles would later feature in the U.S. Constitution. Our Richard immigrated in 1682. By that time, his homeland of Ordsall (located within Manchester) a bitter fight broke out killing over 200. Richard’s grandfather, Sir Alexander Radcliffe was a politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1628 to 1629 and supported the Royalist cause in the English Civil War. He supported the King in the Civil War and in 1642 he executed a Commissioner of Array. He was later committed to the Tower of London by Parliament for assisting the Earl of Derby in the Siege of Manchester.

So in this context, it is understandable why Richard would leave a war torn county for the new promising land of future America. The unstable environment in England at this time caused numerous families to board ships and leave in search of opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, however, and only taken at great expense. Still, opportunity in the emerging nation of the United States was far greater than at home.

Richard’s son, Robert Anthony, was Baptized on his 5th birthday on Sept 15, 1690, at Protestant Episcopal Church, Talbot, Maryland. Much information is available on a couple of Richard’s sons (William and Silas).

When William Ratcliff (Robert Anthony’s son) was born on March 31, 1731, in Augusta County, Virginia, his father was 41 and his mother, Mary, was 29. He married his Susanna Thomas Curtis on 6-3-1759 in St. Luke’s Protestant Episcopal Parish in Church Hill, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. They had 7 children together: Richard, Nathan, James, Daniel, Silas, Stephen, and Margaret Martha.

So far we’ve seen our clan move from France to England, then to the United States in Maryland, through Virginia and now, into Lawrence County, Ohio.

When Richard Ratliff was born in 1760 in Montgomery County, (now West Virginia), his father, William, was 30 and his mother, Susanna, was 15. Richard married Frances A Ratliff and they had 7 children together: William, Squire, Lizzie, Richard, Polly, Nancy and Rachel. He served in the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War and was living in Virginia around the time the Continental Navy was established during the American Revolution. He died in 1843 in Lawrence, Ohio, having lived a long life of 83 years.

Richard’s son of the same name was born in 1803 in Pike County, Kentucky. He married Martha Hardin and then Christine Webb, whom he wed on September 14, 1829, in Lawrence, Ohio. Richard fathered several children but it’s confusing as to who their mother is.

He died in 1890 in Mason, West Virginia, having lived a long life of 87 years.

In 1833 Richard RATLIFF was living in Kentucky, a “farmer” according to the census, where they may have witnessed one of the most spectacular meteor showers in history on “the night the stars fell.” Banks shuttered their doors and unemployment skyrocketed when Richard lived in Kentucky in 1840, during the economic depression that became known as the Panic of 1837.

Richard’s brother, John (son of Richard and Christine Webb), was a veteran of the Civil War and did active service while with the 5th West Va. Infantry. His obituary states he was, “one of the best known and respected citizens of the South Side answered his final summons Wednesday morning about 10:30 o’clock at his home, 11th and Spruce Sts. Mr. Ratliff had reached the ripe old age of 77 years, 3 months and 26 days, most of his career being spent in Ironton, where he always proved to be an upright and worthy citizen. He had been failing since last Friday and his demise is attributed to pneumonia.”

Another brother of John and Richard was also a Civil War veteran. His obituary reads, “Death Friday morning removed Amos Ratliff, aged 76, Civil War veteran and pioneer of this section from his sphere of usefulness.  He died at the home of his son-in-law, Walter Markins, who resides near Deering.  For some months his health has been failing and his death was not unexpected.  The funeral services will be announced later.  Interment will be in Melvin cemetery under direction of Bingaman and Jones.

            Mr. Ratliff was known throughout the county as an honest, upright, thoroughgoing Christian man, and his death is a loss to the community.  His wife preceded him in death about four years but the following children survive:

            Mrs. Markins, Mrs. James Sweeney of Coal Grove, Mrs. Nora Maddy, John Ratliff of Lansing, Mich. and Wm. Ratliff of Superior.” (The Morning Irontonian, Sat., July 1, 1916)

Next is Elisha Ratliff, another son of Richard and Christine Webb, and our proven ancestor given the merit of “Settlers and Builders” of Lawrence County, Ohio. Elisha was born on February 19, 1844 in Pike County, KY. He married Sarah Katherine Wheatley on May 2, 1872. She was the daughter of William H. Wheatley and Ludean/Lodema Fugate and stepfather John Kendrick. Elisha and Sarah had six children in 25 years: Clara, Lodenia, Lavina, Christena, Clarence and John. Elisha died on April 26, 1901, in Rock Camp, Ohio, at the age of 57. Elisha is noted in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 Lawrence Co. census as a “day laborer,” possibly at the iron furnaces. Elisha served in the 5th WV Inf. of the Civil War.

Let’s pause for a moment and look at what was happening in Lawrence County in Elisha’s time. Lawrence County, Ohio, was founded on December 20, 1816, from parts of Scioto and Gallia Counties. The first county seat was located in Burlington, but shortly after Ironton was founded in 1849 it was moved there and has remained ever since.

About 3,200 of Lawrence County’s men were soldiers in the Union Army by 1862 in the American Civil War. World War I saw 2,200 of Lawrence County’s men serving the U.S.A. of which 99 died.

Also during the time of the Civil War, Lawrence County was the pig iron capital of the world. The Hanging Rock Iron Region is about eight miles wide.  It extends through the east part of Scioto, and the west part of this county (Lawrence), and enters Jackson county on the north, and Greenup county, Ky., on the south.  Most of the iron in Lawrence is made into pig metal, which stands high for castings, and is equal to Scotch pig for foundry furnaces: it is also excellent for bar iron.  The principal markets are Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.  The four counties of Jackson, Lawrence, Scioto, and Greenup, Ky., make about 37,450 tons annually, which at $30 per ton, the average market price amounted to $1,123,500. During the duration of the Hanging Rock Iron Region, there were 23 iron furnaces in Lawrence County: Union, Pine Grove, (little) Etna, Vesuvius, Buckhorn, Vernon, Hecla, Lawrence, La Grange, Center, Olive, Washington, Oak Ridge, Pioneer, Monitor, Belfont, Grant, Alice, Blanche, Maggie, Sarah, Hamilton and Ironton. See www.LawrenceCountyFurnaces.com for additional information, photos, maps and records.

Moving down our line, Elisha’s son, Clarence, was born May 21, 1891, in Ohio, when his father was 47 and his mother, Sarah, was 37. He had seven children with Margaret “Maggie” Hazelwood: Gladys (died at 8 years old of diphtheria), Catherine, Lucille, Cecil, Hazel, Evelyn and Raymond. Clarence was listed as a coal miner whose highest level of education was the 8th grade. He died on May 29, 1977, in Ironton, Ohio, at the age of 86, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery.

–Lineage stops here for privacy concerns. Contact Nicole Cox with any questions.