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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the English Ratliff family come from? What is the English Ratliff family crest and coat of arms? When did the Ratliff family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Ratliff family history?

The name Ratliff arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Ratliff 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.

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Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Radcliffe, Radcliff, Radclyffe, Ratliffe, Ratliff, Ratlife and many more.

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] 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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ratliff research. Another 359 words(26 lines of text) covering the years 1165, 1050, 1476, 1547, 1194, 1608, 1654, 1628, 1629, 1609, 1606, 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 Ratliff History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 447 words(32 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ratliff Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Ratliff family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 45 words(3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Ratliff or a variant listed above were:

Ratliff Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Edwd Ratliff, who landed in Virginia in 1705

Ratliff Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • Douglas O. Ratliff, aged 24, who emigrated to the United States, in 1908
  • Joe D. Ratliff, aged 31, who settled in America, in 1908
  • Maud Ratliff, aged 52, who emigrated to the United States, in 1911
  • Anna Ratliff, who landed in America, in 1913
  • John Ratliff, aged 23, who landed in America, in 1920


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  • William Roark "Bill" Ratliff (b. 1936), American politician, 40th Lieutenant Governor of Texas (2000 to 2003)
  • Jeremiah "Jay" Ratliff (b. 1981), American NFL football player for the Dallas Cowboys
  • Theophilus Curtis "Theo" Ratliff (b. 1973), American NBA basketball player
  • Cecil Wayne Ratliff (b. 1946), American programmer who created the database program Vulcan
  • William Ratliff, American political scientist at the Hoover Institution


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  • My Ratliff Family, 1730'a-1990 by Ralph H. Ratliff.
  • Ratliff-Keller by Carl M. Ratliff.
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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.

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  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.

Other References

  1. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  2. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  3. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  4. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  6. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  7. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  8. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  9. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  11. ...

The Ratliff Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Ratliff Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 24 March 2015 at 20:46.

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