Show ContentsRowcliffe History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Rowcliffe is one of the many names that the Normans brought with them when they conquered England in 1066. The Rowcliffe 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 Rowcliffe family

The surname Rowcliffe 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 Rowcliffe family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rowcliffe research. Another 219 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1050, 1165, 1194, 1381, 1476, 1478, 1479, 1485, 1494, 1547, 1593, 1599, 1606, 1608, 1609, 1611, 1621, 1625, 1628, 1629, 1633, 1646, 1650, 1652, 1654, 1655, 1657, 1673, 1689, 1697, 1705, 1714, 1716 and 1813 are included under the topic Early Rowcliffe History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rowcliffe Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Radcliffe, Radcliff, Radclyffe, Ratliffe, Ratliff, Ratlife and many more.

Early Notables of the Rowcliffe family

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; Robert Ratcliffe, British sheriff who held the joint position of Sheriff of Nottingham, England from 1478 to 1479; 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...
Another 196 words (14 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rowcliffe Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Rowcliffe family to Ireland

Some of the Rowcliffe 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 Rowcliffe migration to the United States +

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Rowcliffe name or one of its variants:

Rowcliffe Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Rowcliffe, who settled in Kansas in 1885
Rowcliffe Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Volborg Hanna Rowcliffe, who arrived in Illinois in 1926

Canada Rowcliffe migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Rowcliffe Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Rowcliffe, who arrived in Ontario in 1871
  • Edwin Rowcliffe, who settled in Ontario in 1871
  • Robert Rowcliffe, who settled in Quebec sometime between 1880 and 1980
Rowcliffe Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Robert Gay Rowcliffe, who settled in Quebec sometime between 1905 and 1983
  • Walter Keen Rowcliffe, who arrived in Montreal sometime between 1911 and 1933

Australia Rowcliffe migration to Australia +

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

Rowcliffe Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

The Rowcliffe 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. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from on Facebook