IS THERE A QUAKER IN OUR PAST?

Much of what you will read will in this blog may be confusing.  While our intent is not to confuse the reader, the purpose of offering the following is to establish where the research is regarding any connection with the Ratcliff Quaker lines from Maryland & Pennsylvania.

Over the years, much has been written (mostly unproven) regarding a possible relationship between our William Ratliff/Ratcliff line (1777 Anson Co., NC will) and the Quaker Ratcliff’s of Talbot Co., MD and Bucks Co., PA.   Many have connected their own Ratliff/Ratcliff lines to one of the Quaker lines as a result of the genealogical work of Clarence Earl Ratcliff. 

In his 1988 edition of his book, Clarence did connect our William Ratliff/Ratcliff line to his Ratcliff lineage through William, son of Richard & Mary Caterne Ratcliff.  However, to date, no actual evidence of any such connection, or the possibility of any connection, has been found.  In discussing this inclusion with Clarence before he passed away, he admitted to me that he had no proof of such a connection.  However, all of us “cousins” that he met he just loved and wanted to be connected to us. 

While we feel the same way about Clarence, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF SUCH A CONNECTION WITH THE QUAKER RICHARD RATCLIFF OF TALBOT CO., MD.

To be completely fair about this evaluation, THERE IS NO PROOF THAT WE ARE NOT CONNECTED TO THIS RICHARD RATCLIFF LINE.

Our William Ratliff/Ratcliff married Susannah Thomas Curtis on 3 June 1759.  At that time, St. Luke’s Parish Church was a member of the Church of England.  Now St. Luke’s is part of the Anglican Church.  But St. Luke’s is definitely NOT, and never has been a Quaker place of worship. 

Examination of the St. Luke’s Parish records reveals several individuals with the Ratliff/Ratcliff names, along with several from the Thomas family also married in that church.  So one would conclude that there would not be an immediate connection to the Quaker church with this family.

In addition to the scarcity of records available for that period (1680 to 1760), it has been very difficult to verify individuals.  Now compound that issue with Queen Anne’s County Maryland being located next door to Talbot Co. where Third Haven Monthly Meeting of the Quakers is located.  This meeting House became central to the development of the Quaker faith in this part of Maryland during the late 1600’s and early 1700’s.  To further complicate the analysis, we find a Richard Ratcliff (who is the ancestor researched by Clarence Ratcliff) who was mentioned many times in the records of Third Haven Monthly Meeting.

Now the question “Is this Richard (Talbot Co.) any relationship to the William and/or Richard in Queen Anne’s Co., MD?” 

Were there other possible connections with William Ratliff/Ratcliff family members who may have had Quaker heritage in their family history? We find the possibility of Quaker connections in the family of Susannah Thomas, wife of William Ratliff/Ratcliff (1777 Anson Co., NC will):

          Father: Thomas Thomas, Jr.

                    Grandfather: Thomas Thomas, Sr.

                    Grandmother: Elizabeth?

          Mother: Susannah Clothier

                    Grandfather: Robert Clothier

                    Grandmother: Jane Kemp

 

In Kenneth Carroll’s excellent work Quakerism on the Eastern Shore many references to Quakers in Talbot & Queen Anne’s Counties are mentioned.  You will find references to the Thomas, Clothier & Kemp families.  A Thomas family worshiped as Quakers when they migrated into North & South Carolina.  But the stronger Quaker connection seems to be with the Clothier and Kemp families.  So the Ratliff & Thomas families had Quaker connections.  The only mention of any connection with the Quaker Richard Ratcliff of Talbot Co., MD seems to come from the work of Clarence Earl Ratcliff who has admitted that he had no actual proof of such a connection.

 

Brief History of Quaker Ratcliff’s

According to Clarence, Richard Ratcliff was born in England and came to America in 1682 aboard the ship “Submission”.  He settled in Talbot Co. Maryland and became an active member of the Quaker meeting there called “Third Haven Monthly Meeting”.  There is still a meeting there to this day and the old church meeting house is preserved and can be toured if you are ever in the Easton, Maryland area.

Richard had a brother, James who came to Bucks Co., Pennsylvania in 1685 and established himself as a prominent citizen and Quaker.  He built a large family who then migrated into new lands that opened up as America began to explore its new found lands.

 

DNA Comparisons

With the availability of DNA, it seemed the obvious approach would be to see how the DNA would direct the research.  But one has to keep in mind one thing regarding DNA analysis:

DNA will never lead you to the actual person to whom one may be related.  What it does tell you is that you have a Most Common Recent Ancestor (MCRA).  Old fashioned paper trails then must prove the actual relationship. 

Many Ratliff’s have taken the Y-DNA test and comparisons can be made to help lead research. 

One living descendant of the Quaker Richard Ratcliff has been found.  Also a living descendant of the Quaker James Ratcliff was found.  Both have had their DNA tested.  The chart below is a comparison of the test results for the Anson Co., NC & Hickman Co., TN Ratliff’s to both the descendant of the Quaker Richard and the descendant of the Quaker James.

The meaning of the various numbers in the chart below are as follows:

1 – Tightly related. Few people achieve this level of a match.

2-3 – Related

4 – Probably related. You may have a connection in a more distant genealogical times (7-15 generations).

 

 

Descendant of Richard Ratcliff

Talbot Co., MD

Descendant of James Ratcliff

Bucks Co., PA

Anson Co.   #1

2

2

Anson Co.   #2

4

2

Anson Co.   #3

4

2

Anson Co.   #4

4

2

Anson Co.,   #5

4

2

Anson Co.   #6

4

2

Hickman   Co., #1

3

1

Hickman   Co. #2

3

1

 

Anson Co. #1 is related to both Richard & James Ratcliff.  However, Anson Co., #2-6 is related to Richard further back in the generations.  But, there is a closer relationship to James Ratcliff

Hickman Co #1 & 2 are both related to Richard but tightly related to James.

Just an overall observation from this limited analysis would conclude there is definitely a blood relationship between the Anson Co. & Hickman Co. Ratliff’s to James Ratcliff.  Another way of saying this is that the Anson Co. & Hickman Co. Ratliff’s share a MCRA with James Ratcliff.  Now that MCRA needs to be identified. 

As mentioned at the beginning, the purpose of the above is only to publish what is known today in the hopes of stimulating further research and comment.  But several conclusions can be made about any relationship with the Ratcliff Quaker brothers.

  1. Any blood relationship with Richard Ratcliff is in the more distant past.
  2. A blood relationship with James Ratcliff seems more likely.
  3. Research on the James Ratcliff line should proceed by discovering any James Ratcliff descendants that came into NC around 1770.

We put forth in the last blog that there is a blood relationship between the Anson Co., NC Ratliff’s and those who came into Hickman Co., TN.  Documentation exists showing a John Ratliff who married Minerva Ratliff and they are listed in the 1820 Hickman Co., TN federal census as reported in the last blog.  However, tracing the lineage of this John Ratliff has been difficult.  We could not trace the parents of this John.  Some have said that John came from Virginia.  However, any documentation or circumstantial evidence leading to this conclusion has been difficult if not impossible to locate.  If anyone reading this blog could provide any information, we would greatly appreciate it.

Ed Ratliff

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