Show ContentsRadcliffe History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Radcliffe is a name that was brought to England by the ancestors of the Radcliffe family when they migrated to the region after the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Radcliffe family lived in Lancashire, at Radcliffe. The name of this place translates as red cliff, from its Saxon origin and indicates that originally the town was distinguished by its proximity to such a landmark on the east side of Irwell.

Early Origins of the Radcliffe family

The surname Radcliffe was first found in Lancashire, at Radcliffe, a parish, in the union of Bury, hundred of Salford that dates back to at least the Domesday Book of 1086 where it was listed as Radecliue. [1] "In the 14th of Edward III., Richard Radcliffe held the manor for the manor of Whalley [at Wiswell]." [2]

One of the oldest records of the surname was William de Radeclive, one of the knights of the Grand Inquest, 13th of John. [2]

Radcliffe Tower, now in ruins, was one of the most considerable manorial seats in the county. Richard of Radclyffe Tower was listed there in the reign of Edward I; [3] as was Richard Radcliffe, High Sheriff of Lancashire, 32 Edward III. The tower was rebuilt in the reign by James de Radcliffe, Lord of the Manor of Radcliffe in 1403.

Radcliffe is today a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Bury, in Greater Manchester. Another branch of the family was found at Winmarleigh, a township in Lancashire.

"The Radcliffes afterwards became lords of the manor [of Winmarleigh] by the marriage of Richard le Radcliffe with the heiress of the Plesyngtons; and the estate passed through several heirs to Anne Radcliffe, who married Sir Gilbert Gerard: by a descendant of the last-named, it is supposed to have been sold to the Pattens." [2]

Early History of the Radcliffe family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Radcliffe research. Another 219 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1165, 1050, 1476, 1547, 1813, 1194, 1485, 1608, 1654, 1628, 1629, 1609, 1606, 1494, 1381, 1625, 1697, 1655, 1705, 1689, 1716, 1650, 1714, 1593, 1657, 1599, 1657, 1633, 1621, 1629, 1611, 1673, 1646, 1673, 1652 and 1714 are included under the topic Early Radcliffe History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Radcliffe Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence in the eras before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate regularly changed the spellings of their names as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Radcliffe have been found, including Radcliffe, Radcliff, Radclyffe, Ratliffe, Ratliff, Ratlife and many more.

Early Notables of the Radcliffe family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was William Radcliffe, Sheriff of county Lancaster in 1194; Sir Richard Ratcliffe, KG (died 1485), a close confidant of Richard III of England; Sir Alexander Radcliff (1608-1654), English politician, Member of Parliament for Lancashire (1628-1629); and John Ratcliffe (d. 1609) captain of the Discovery, one of three ships that sailed from England on December 19, 1606, to Virginia, to found a colony. He became the second president of the Jamestown colony, and was killed by the Powhatan Indians. Sir Brian Roucliffe (died 1494) was an English judge, was eldest of the four sons of...
Another 178 words (13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Radcliffe Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Radcliffe Ranking

In the United States, the name Radcliffe is the 5,805th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [4]

Ireland Migration of the Radcliffe family to Ireland

Some of the Radcliffe family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Radcliffe migration to the United States +

For many English families, the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. For such families, the shores of Ireland, Australia, and the New World beckoned. They left their homeland at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. Many arrived after the long voyage sick, starving, and without a penny. But even those were greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. Numerous English settlers who arrived in the United States and Canada at this time went on to make important contributions to the developing cultures of those countries. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Radcliffe were among those contributors:

Radcliffe Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Philip Radcliffe, who landed in Massachusetts in 1631 [5]
  • James Radcliffe, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1684 [5]
  • Richard Radcliffe, aged 21, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1685 [5]
  • Robert Radcliffe, who landed in New England in 1686 [5]
Radcliffe Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Radcliffe, who settled in Philadelphia in 1775
Radcliffe Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Alexander Radcliffe, aged 23, who arrived in New York, NY in 1803 [5]
  • John W Radcliffe, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1820 [5]
  • Thomas Radcliffe, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1869 [5]

Australia Radcliffe migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Radcliffe Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Radcliffe, British Convict who was convicted in Chester, Cheshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Earl Spencer" in May 1813, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Mr. William Augustus Radcliffe, English convict who was convicted in Plymouth, Devon, England for 7 years, transported aboard the ""Blenheim"" on 24th July 1850, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) and Norfolk Island, Australia [7]

New Zealand Radcliffe migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Radcliffe Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Radcliffe, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mermaid" in 1859 [8]
  • Mr. James Radcliffe, British settler travelling from Liverpool aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 19th October 1859 [9]
  • James Radcliffe, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1861
  • Ann Radcliffe, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1861
  • Norman Radcliffe, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1861
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Radcliffe (post 1700) +

  • Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe (1902-2005), American Major League Baseball player
  • James "Jimmy" Radcliffe (1936-1973), American soul singer and composer
  • Mark Radcliffe (1918-2012), one of the last surviving American members of the legendary Devil's Brigade, a joint US/Canadian task force during World War II
  • John Radcliffe, American politician, Candidate for New York State Senate 25th District, 1922 [10]
  • Gerald E. Radcliffe, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Ohio, 1952, 1960, 1964 [10]
  • George Lovic Pierce Radcliffe (1877-1974), American Democratic Party politician, Secretary of State of Maryland, 1919-20; U.S. Senator from Maryland, 1935-47 [10]
  • George E. Radcliffe, American politician, Mayor of Hamilton, Ohio, 1952-53 [10]
  • Clayton Samuel Radcliffe (b. 1889), American Democratic Party politician, Chair of Cheyenne County Democratic Party, 1940 [10]
  • Ben H. Radcliffe, American politician, Member of South Dakota State House of Representatives 26th District, 1955-60 [10]
  • Aubrey Radcliffe (b. 1941), American Republican politician, Member of Michigan State University Board of Trustees, 1973-80; Candidate in primary for U.S. Representative from Michigan 6th District, 1980 [10]
  • ... (Another 24 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Henry Radcliffe, British Stoker 2ne Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse (1941) and survived the sinking [11]
Senghenydd colliery
  • Mr. John Radcliffe (b. 1869), Welsh coal miner from Senghenydd, Caerphilly, Wales who was working at the Senghenydd colliery when there was an explosion on the 14th October 1913; he died

The Radcliffe Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Virtus propter se
Motto Translation: Virtue for its own sake.

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 8th September 2021). Retrieved from
  7. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th October 2020). Retrieved from
  8. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 5th November 2010). Retrieved from
  9. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  10. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 9) . Retrieved from
  11. HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook