This article appears in the Prentiss County, Mississippi History by Mary Floyde (Sumners) Rickard. There have since been mistakes found within the article, so, as always, please verify all information.
A modern author, A. Seton, wrote in a recent book that the name Radcliffe (Ratliff, Ratcliffe, and various spellings) was one of the proudest in England "that remained unbroken back through Earls, Baronets, and Knights to the time of the Saxons." Sir Francis Radcliffe (born 1624, died 1696) was endowed in 1688 with the title of Earl of Derwentwater by Kind James II-his son Earl Edward (born 1653, died 1705) married Lady Mary Tudor (daughter of King Charles II). The early Radcliffes lived in the north country of Northumberland England, and for many years they were Catholics-however, many of the families were Protestants after the time of Queen Mary and her sister, Queen Ann of England. Dr. John Radcliffe, London, a Protestant (Anglican) attended Queen Ann at the births of her seventeen children. Captain John Ratcliffe arrived with Captain John Smith in the ship, "Discovery" on April 26, 1607, to set up the first permanent English colony at Jamestown, in North America, where he was soon elected to be President. He was followed to Virginia by several Radclife families and one family, who first came to Pennsylvania, later migrated southward to Virginia. Several of the early settlers were Quakers in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and some of them remained Quakers as they moved into North and South Carolina.
Roger Radcliffe (born 1575, in England) was living "Att West and Sherlew hundred" by February 16, 1623 (according to Hotten? Immigrants), and he had arrived, in 1619 on the ship "George" with his wife and son. Probably his son, Richard Ratcliffe, a prominent Quaker in Isle of Wight County Virginia, made his first will (acknowledged in court on March 4, 1686-7) naming his wife Elizabeth; sons Richard, Cornelius, and John; daughters Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary, and Rebecca. Richard Radclife lived 28 years after he made his first will in 1686, and in his second will he names the same wife and identical children, but he has changed his bequests-the births and marriages of all his children are well documented in "The Friends (Quakers) Register of Nansemond County, Virginia." The second Richard Ratcliffe (born 1672) married Elizabeth Hollowell-after her death he came to Perquimans County, North Carolina, where he married Damaris Nixon (born 1682, died 1734), and he left a will in Perquimans County on July 14, 1724. Richard Ratliff died in 1724, and in his will he named sons, Thomas and Joseph, to whom he bequeathed "his lands in Virginia and North Carolina; daughters, Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Hulda; wife Damaris; and brother Cornelius."
Another prominent southwestern Virginia Ratcliff family lived in Halifax County; namely, William Ratcliff mentioned in 1757, and Richard listed in 1758 records. In "Annals of Southwest Virginia" Sumners mentioned a deed made by Thomas Ratcliff and his wife, Mary, on November 8, 1775, and added of William Ratliff, in Botetourt County, made on February 22, 1785. Many Ratcliff descendants of the Virginia family were swept into the land-hungry swells of migrants heading south and west into North Carolina. Our direct ancestor, William Ratliff, (born, circa 1700, in Virginia, died 1777) was in the early records of Anson County, North Carolina; William, in his will (probated February, 1777), mentioned his wife, Susannah; sons, William, Zachariah, Thomas, James, John, and Robert Clothier; and daughter Elizabeth (born 1765-70) married Samuel or Elijah Curtis. There are entries in several "North Carolina Friends Meetings records" that reveal that this family was "in and out" of the Quaker religious groups. Thomas Ratliff (born circa 1760, died circa 1845) married Sara Diggs (The North Carolina Wayne County Quaker "Contenment Meeting" dismissed Sara (Diggs) Rattcliff for "marrying out of unity." Elijah and Thomas, were received into the S.C. Piney Grove Friends Meeting from Anson County, North Carolina. Thomas and Sara (Diggs) Ratcliff (Ratliff) were the parents of Julia Eleanor (born 1797-married Abner Curtis); William (will proved July 1840, Anson County, North Carolina) which named his brother and sisters; Elijah (born 1787, died January, 1865) married Nancy Jernigan (born 1791) on December 21, 1811. (Elijah Ratliff was dismissed from the Piney Grove Meeting of Quakers, in 1811, for marrying a lady who was not a Quaker); Thomas (born 1790, died after 1850); Sarah (died before December 26, 1839) married John Flowers; and Mary Ratliff married Robert Wilson. Thomas Ratliff deeded land in Anson County, North Carolina, to his son, Elijah Ratliff, on January 9, 1814; and evidently he was living with his son, Elijah, in the 1830 Anson County North Carolina Census shown "as a male more than 45 years of age."
Elijah Ratliff (born 1787, died January, 1865) married on December 21, 1811, Miss Nancy Jernigan, the daughter of Samuel Jernigan (born circa 1770); Nancy’s sisters living in Anson County were Mary (married W.B. Streeter) and Ellen (married F. McRae); and her brothers were Isaac, Henry, Samuel, and John Jernigan. The Jernigans, found in early Nansemond County, Virginia, migrated into Chowan, Bertie, Anson, and other North Carolina Counties. Elijah (born 1787) and wife Nancy (Jernigan) Ratliff were the parents of 15 known children; they were: Sarah Jane (born 1812) married Milton Terry; Rachel (born 1813) married Benjamin Smith (born 1802); William (born 1815) married Mary J. Hinson; Winferd (born March 26, 1816) married Thomas Smith (born March 28, 1813, died May 22, 1889, in Prentiss County, Mississippi); John (born 1818) married Ann; Francis (born 1820) married James Benjamin Clark; Henry (born 1822) married Francis; Elizabeth (born 1824) married Eli Diggs; James (born 1825) married Sarah Knotts; Thomas (born 1827) married Mary Ratliff; Ann (born 1829); Eli (born 1831); Susan (born 1832) married her cousin, James Perry Ratliff; Kindred Cole (born 1832); and Pleasant married a Miss Brooks or Cole.
Winferd (born March 26, 1816, died May 19, 1878, Prentiss County, Mississippi) and her husband Thomas Smith (born March 28, 1813, died May 22, 1889)-they were married on the first Sunday of January, 1833, in Anson County, and they are both buried in the Smith Cemetery, northeast of Booneville, Mississippi. Thomas Smith was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Macy?) Smith (they were closely related to the Macy family of Virginia and North Carolina). When Winiferd and Thomas Smith moved, in 1854, from Anson County, North Carolina, Thomas brought with him an old Smith Bible (stere-typed by T. Rutt Shacklewell, in 1702, in London, England)-on the front page of this Smith Bible was written this inscription: "Nathan Smith, born 1712, March 17; and Thomas Smith, born 1707"; also there was a list of the children of Thomas Smith, Sr. and their birthdays, copied by Thomas Smith, Jr. who kept possession of the Bible until his death in 1889; the brothers and sisters listed by Thomas Smith, Jr. (some information missing here)… (born December 25, 1796); Elizabeth Smith (born July 22, 1798); Joseph Smith (born April 5, 1800); Benjamin (born 1802); Louisa (born January 18, 1807); and John Smith (born ?, 1815). The smith ancestors were in the Virginia Colony in Accomack and James City, Counties, before 1637, and their descendants were in many counties of the state by the time of the Revolutionary War in which several of the family served. After the end of the fighting in 1781, Smiths became pioneers in North Carolina, and the 1790 census of North Carolina lists Nathan and Thomas Smith in Rowan County which once was part of Anson County. The Thomas Smith, Sr. (born circa 1760) is believed to be a grandson of the "Nathan (born 1712) named in the old Smith Bible which was brought by Thomas Smith, Jr. to Mississippi." Thomas (born 1813) came with a group of fox-hunters from North Carolina to Tishomingo County, Mississippi and while he was here, he bought a section of land (640 acres), and moved his family in the fall of 1853 to what is now Prentiss County, Mississippi-he bored holds in the wagon wheels, in which he concealed a large number of gold coins. The Anson County wagon train arrived safely in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, on January 9, 1854. Winiferd (Ratliff) Smith bade father (Elijah Ratliff) a sad farewell, as she left his large two-story house on the Pee Dee River and the farm which he had given to her in Union County. Elijah Ratliff was possessed of more than 100 slaves, listed in the census of 1860, and he had given to Winiferd "six blacks to bring to her new home-one of these, "Anse" Smith, lived to be circa 100 years old, and the author remembers going to see him in the 1930’s ." "Uncle Anse" lived at Corinth, Mississippi, and he would tell about the "high Christmas celebrations held in the Elijah Ratliff home with a ‘10 foot tall cedar tree’ that would reach to the ceiling, and the tree held candles, cookies and all". The blacks celebrated with the members of the family and shared gifts, food, and drink.
Thomas (born 1813) and Winiferd (Ratliff) Smith had a large home, located about three or four miles northeast of what is now Booneville, Mississippi. They had a large family and the children were: Elijah (born 1834); Joseph (born 1835); Macy (born December 26, 1837, Anson County, North Carolina ) married Robert Alexander Floyd (born 1833-killed October 1, 1864 at the Battle of Petersburg, Virginia)-see the Floyd history for data on this family; Culpepper (born 1845); Martha Ann (born 1840); Susan (born 1844); Elizabeth (born 1846) married Robert James Whiteside; Jefferson Smith (1848); Henry (born 1850); Ratliff (born 1852); Manizer (born 1855); Walker (born 1856); and Christmas Evans Smith (born 1859). After Winiferd (Ratliff) Smith died on May 19, 1878, her husband, Thomas, married a "widow Reynolds," and they had two children named: Georgia (born 1880) married John W. Davis, and William Taylor "Bub" Smith (born 1881). The Ratliff and Smith families are in the earliest records of "ye ole England."