Ratcliff last name popularity, history, and meaning

Find out how popular the last name Ratcliff is in the United States and learn more about the meaning, history, and race and ethnic origin of people in America who are named Ratcliff.

Meaning of Ratcliff

A locational surname referring to someone from a cliff infested with rats or a steep, reddish cliff.

Ratcliff, like all of the last names we have data for, is identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a surname which has more than 100 occurrences in the United States in the Decennial Census survey. The most recent statistics we have for the Ratcliff surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Ratcliff in America

Ratcliff is the 3409th most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Ratcliff surname appeared 10,497 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 4 people would have the surname Ratcliff.

We can also compare 2010 data for Ratcliff to data from the previous census in 2000. The table below contains all of the statistics for both years in a side-by-side comparison.

2010 2000 Change (%)
Rank 3409 3207 6.11%
Count 10,497 10,237 2.51%
Proportion per 100k 3.56 3.79 -6.26%

The history of the last name Ratcliff

The surname Ratcliff is of English origin, deriving from the Old English words "ræt" meaning "a rat" and "clif" meaning "a cliff or steep bank". The name likely originated as a topographic surname, referring to someone who lived near a cliff or bank frequented by rats.

The earliest recorded instance of the name dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as "Radeclive". This early spelling variation highlights the name's connection to a place name, likely a specific locality where the original bearers resided.

In the 13th century, the name appeared in various forms such as "Rateclif", "Ratcliff", and "Ratclyff" in various records and manuscripts from counties like Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Nottinghamshire. These regions were likely home to the earliest known families bearing the surname.

One notable individual with the surname Ratcliff was Sir Richard Ratcliff (c. 1455 - 1529), a prominent English soldier and courtier during the Wars of the Roses. He served under King Richard III and was appointed to several important positions, including Lieutenant of the Tower of London.

Another historical figure was Thomas Ratcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex (1526 - 1583), an English nobleman and military leader who served as Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1556 to 1558. He was also a prominent figure in the English Reformation.

In the 16th century, the name was also associated with the Ratcliffe family of Derwentwater, a prominent Northumbrian gentry family. One member, James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater (1689 - 1716), was a Jacobite supporter who was executed for his involvement in the Jacobite rising of 1715.

The name Ratcliff was also borne by Sir John Ratcliffe (c. 1536 - 1592), an English soldier and diplomat who served as Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard under Queen Elizabeth I.

In the realm of literature, the surname Ratcliff appears in William Shakespeare's play "Richard III", where it is the name of one of King Richard's supporters, Sir Richard Ratcliffe.

While the name originated in England, it has since spread to other parts of the world due to migration and has undergone various spellings and variations over the centuries, reflecting its rich and diverse history.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Ratcliff

We also have some data on the ancestry of people with the surname Ratcliff.

The below race categories are the modified race categories used in the Census Bureau's population estimates program. All people were categorized into six mutually exclusive racial and Hispanic origin groups:

  1. White only
  2. Black only
  3. American Indian and Alaskan Native only
  4. Asian and Pacific Islander only
  5. Hispanic
  6. Two or More Races

For the most recent 2010 census data, the race/ethnic origin breakdown for Ratcliff was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 73.94% 7,761
Non-Hispanic Black Only 20.32% 2,133
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 0.45% 47
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.62% 65
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 2.06% 216
Hispanic Origin 2.61% 274

Note: Any fields showing (S) means the data was suppressed for privacy so that the data does not in any way identify any specific individuals.

Since we have data from the previous census in 2000, we can also compare the values to see how the popularity of Ratcliff has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 73.94% 76.44% -3.32%
Black 20.32% 19.67% 3.25%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.45% 0.29% 43.24%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.62% 0.46% 29.63%
Two or More Races 2.06% 1.30% 45.24%
Hispanic 2.61% 1.84% 34.61%

Data source

The last name data and ethnic breakdown of last names is sourced directly from the Decennial Census survey, conducted every 10 years by the United States Census Bureau.

The history and meaning of the name Ratcliff was researched and written by our team of onomatology and genealogy experts.

If you have a correction or suggestion to improve the history of Ratcliff, please contact us.

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"Ratcliff last name popularity, history, and meaning". NameCensus.com. Accessed on July 22, 2024. http://namecensus.com/last-names/ratcliff-surname-popularity/.

"Ratcliff last name popularity, history, and meaning". NameCensus.com, http://namecensus.com/last-names/ratcliff-surname-popularity/. Accessed 22 July, 2024

Ratcliff last name popularity, history, and meaning. NameCensus.com. Retrieved from http://namecensus.com/last-names/ratcliff-surname-popularity/.

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