In their monumental work, Betty Carson and Howard Hazlewood briefly addressed the “possible” parents of William of Anson County as Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliff of Prince George’s County, Maryland [i].
In September of this year (2014) my daughter Janet Starkey (Jacey) and I went to Maryland and spent some time in the Hall of Records. One of our objectives was to try and prove, or disprove, that Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliff were or were not the parents of our William of Anson County. While the results confirmed much of the information in the Carson/Hazlewood work, it was surprising regarding how the determination was made to not consider this couple as potential parents of William of Anson Co., NC.
First, we were able to confirm much of the work done by Carson/Hazlewood. One of the more interesting pieces was the renunciation of Richard Rattcliffe from his parent’s estate (both deceased in 1741). Here is a copy of that renunciation found in the court file:
Several things are evident from this document alone:
- Richard has a brother or brothers, it isn’t clear from the handwriting.
- Both parents named Robert & Mary are deceased.
- Richard has an uncle, Richard Touchstone.
- Richard cannot write.
- Richard apparently did live in Prince George’s County at the time of this renunciation.
From an Administration Bond filed with the Prince George’s Prerogative Court dated 13 August 1739, Robert Ratcliffe is deceased as wife Mary, along with Richard Touchstone and James Hyet[iii] are posting a bond for the administration of the estate of Robert, deceased. Mary also provided an inventory of the estate dated 21 June 1740 listing the disbursements from the estate as of that date.[iv] The date of this filing becomes important as it indicates that Mary was still alive.
By July 1741, Mary was deceased and Richard Rattcliffe had renounced his interest in the estate to his uncle, Richard Tutchstone as mentioned earlier. Thus Richard Tutchstone was required to post a bond to the Prince George’s Prerogative Court that provides the information that Mary was deceased. It also establishes that Richard Tutchstone had assumed the administration of the Robert Rattcliffe estate that Mary had left “unadministrated by Mary Ratlif, his administratrix” as per the comment in the following bond. The bond is posted in separate segments to make the reading of the bond much easier.
This bond listed Richard Tuchstone, Humberstone Lyon and Henry Tuchstone as parties to the bond. Richard made “his mark” and Humberstone Lyon and Henry Tutchstone signed their names. Now “why” would Richard Rattcliffe renounce his interest in the estate?
- He was leaving Prince George’s Co.
- He felt he wasn’t competent to handle the job.
- There wasn’t enough in the estate to interest him.
- He was genuinely concerned about the well-being of his siblings and wanted to provide for their care.
We then went searching for any property that Robert Ratcliffe might have owned in Prince George’s Co. A search in Prince George’s Co. (also Frederick County as parts of Prince George’s Co. was divided in 1748 into Frederick Co.) could find no land holdings owned by Robert and/or Mary Ratcliffe.
With that information known, we examined a very well researched paper on the Touchstone Family written by George Ely Russell[vi]where he provides a paper trail for the Touchstone family as Richard Touchstone came to this country in 1679/80 probably as an indentured servant. This research outlines a paper trail to the Ratcliffe family in Prince George’s Co. and his sources are listed. Thus there is a link between the Touchstone family and the family of Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe of Prince George’s Co. But does that connect Robert & Mary as possible parents of our William of Anson County?
Several references were found in Prince George’s Co. regarding the Touchstone Family owning land in what was called “Monocasy Hundred”. A search of tax lists revealed a 1733 tax list for Monocasy Hundred that listed Richard Touchstone, Humberstone Lyon and Robert Ratcliffe. A copy of that record is shown below:
Again, this places Robert Ratcliffe in Monocasy Hundred in 1733 paying a tax only on himself. He was also in the same area of Prince George’s Co. as was Richard Touchstone and Humberstone Lyon so they probably knew each other. Mr. Russell traces the various land holdings of Richard Touchstone, including his brother Henry in Prince George’s Co. Therefore, a case can be made for the relationship of the Touchstone Family and the Robert Ratcliffe family of Prince George’s Co., MD. But a review of the known land records does not provide any “hint” of a relationship of Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe to our William of Anson Co.
Mr. Russell does list possible children of Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe as:
Daughter – name unknown. Married James Hyett/Hyat, Prince George’s Co.
Daughter – name unknown. Married William Gooden.
Questions still remain:
What happened to Richard Ratcliffe when he rescinded his interest in his parent’s estate in 1741?
What relationship, if any could Richard Rattliffe have to William Ratliff of Anson Co. whose record of marriage is found in the records of St. Luke’s Parish Church, Queen Anne’s Co., MD in 1759?
While researching at the Hall of Records in Annapolis, we noticed they were having a “Family History Day” on Saturday, October 4. One of the features of the event was the opportunity to spend 15 minutes with one of several professional genealogists who were giving of their time for the day. We came prepared to present our thoughts on why Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliff should be considered as “possible” parents of William of Anson County.
With our charts and references in hand the genealogist almost immediately stated that the migration from Prince George’s Co. (western side of the Chesapeake Bay) to Queen Anne’s Co. (eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay) was probably not something that would have normally occurred. They would have gone either west or south as lands opened up. But not east across the bay. As we could not find any evidence of Richard Ratcliff or Richard Touchstone owning any land in Queen Anne’s Co., MD, that piece seemed to fit with what the professional was sharing. So his suggestion was to pursue other areas as possibilities for finding the parents of William of Anson Co.,
The Russell history of the Touchstone Family says that the Touchstones left the Maryland area in 1752 and migrated to Anson Co., NC where they settled on the northeast side of the PeeDee River. No mention is made of them owning land in Queen Anne’s. Co., MD which would seem to confirm there was no stop for the Touchstone’s in Queen Anne’s Co.
Also the professional shared that there was a big migration of Quakers out of Maryland and Virginia to the Carolinas between 1740 and 1760. This may become more important as we further examine “possible” Quaker connections to our William of Anson Co.,
In the Richard Touchstone’s will dated 16 February 1767 in Anson Co., NC, one of the provisions was for 15 pounds Maryland money to William and [Anselus?} Wratlif[vii]. Why these persons and “why” Maryland money?
The genealogist says these could be the same nephews from Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe. Also, the “W” at the beginning of the last name in that Richard Touchstone will could be a spelling error considering how the last name of Ratcliffe has been spelled down through the years. Also, there is no known evidence, or any circumstantial evidence that these men are related in any way to our William of Anson Co.
Therefore, the above evidence does not provide any evidence (direct or circumstantial) that there is any possible relationship between Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliff of Prince George’s Co., MD and our William Ratcliff/Ratliff of Anson Co., NC.
So the search goes on….
In response to a question regarding difficulty in crossing the Chesapeake Bay, the genealogist said people normally traversed the bay all the time. But to move families east was just not something that normally was done.
I asked regarding our not finding any land holdings for Robert Ratcliffe in Prince George’s Co.? Could he have been a tenant farmer to Richard Touchstone? “Possibly” was his reply but felt we needed to follow the land holdings to see who the possible parents of William of Anson Co. might be.
Therefore, from what is presented above it is hoped to put on hold the “possibility” of Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe as parents of our William of Anson Co., NC. There are a couple of other areas to possibly pursue but we wanted to put our work, “on the record” for today and future genealogists who might wish to pursue Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe as possible parents for our William of Anson Co., NC.
There is another William Ratcliff in Queen Anne’s Co., MD around the same time as William of Anson Co. Who is he and how does he relate, if any, to our William of Anson Co.?
Look for further postings to Ratliff’s Ferry for additional research in this area.
[i] The William Ratcliff/Ratliff Family of Maryland and Anson County, North Carolina, privately published, Page 6
[ii] Prince George’s County, Maryland, Administration Bonds, Original, Box 11 Md. HR 8925-11-1/75 1-26-7-13, Folder 68.
[iii] Prince George’s County, Maryland, Original Bonds, Box 10 (MdHR 8925 57122, 1/26/7/121), folder 48.
[iv] Prince George’s County, Maryland Administration Bond, Box 1, folder 73, Maryland State Archives
[v] Prince George’s County, Maryland Administration Bond, MSA C1147-11
[vi] Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin, Vol. 37, #3, Summer 1996, pages 289-298
[vii] Original will, Craven County, NC.