The Ratcliffe Family

I was immediately drawn to the Ratcliffe family after examining various English immigrants that our class examined in the 1860 and 1870 U.S. Censuses for the City of Alexandria. I was intrigued by the fact that Ann Ratcliffe’s occupation listed in the 1870 U.S. Census was “doctress” because not many women were in the medical field during the 19th century.[1] She had $600 of property while her son, William, was not worth anything although he worked as a moulder or brick maker.[1] 

Ann Ratcliffe was an English immigrant born in 1805. Ann was married to a RB (Robert) Ratcliffe, who, based on information from the 1850 U.S. Census, was a carpenter from England worth $500.[2] At the time the census was conducted, Ratcliffe’s occupation (if she had one) was not listed; she had three children total, all born in Washington, D.C. Richard was born in 1830, Margaret in 1835, and William in 1838.[3] Unfortunately, I was unable to find more information on Ratcliffe’s children other than William. [4]

William Ratcliffe later married Ann E. Nightingale on July 15, 1868.[5] Together, William and Ann had one child, a daughter named Lizzy Bell, born in November 1869 by 1870. [6]

William and Ann Ratcliffe continued to live in Alexandria in the same home on the corner of Wilkes and South Fairfax Streets. William died at the age of 54 on April 12, 1894, while his mother’s death is unknown. His funeral was held in his home the Sunday following his death.[7]

house-map

Home of the Ratcliffes or William and Ann “Radcliff.” Don DeBats, Voting Viva Voce: Unlocking the Social Logic of Past Politics, University of Virginia, accessed September 21, 2016, http://sociallogic.iath.virginia.edu/.

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William Ratcliffe’s Death Noted in the Alexandria Gazette. “Virginia Gazette and Virginia Advertiser,” Alexandria Gazette, April 12, 1894. Accessed September 21, 2016, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress.

As we can examine, Ann Ratcliffe was not a typical woman of her time. She was the only female physician/surgeon of her time in the City of Alexandria, showing viewers today how important she was in her community. After her husband passed away in 1851, she had to work to continue life without her husband.  As stated above, the date of her death is unknown. According to Charlotte Erickson’s book, Invisible Immigrants: The Adaption of English and Scottish Immigrants in Nineteenth-century America, a wife was extremely important to male immigrants in the United States and the mid-19th century. [8] Without Ann, the Ratcliffe family would not have had a source of income because William did not have a solid source of income according to the 1870 census in the City of Alexandria.

[1] 1870 U.S. Census (Population Schedule). Alexandria, Virginia, William and Ann Ratcliffe, line 26 and 29, digital image, accessed September, 21 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[2] 1850 U.S. Census (Population Schedule). Alexandria, Virginia, RB Ratcliffe, line 28,  digital image, accessed September, 21 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[3] 1850 U.S. Census (Population Schedule). Alexandria, Virginia, Richard, Margaret, and William Ratcliffe, lines 30-32, digital image, accessed September, 21 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[4] 1870 U.S. Census (Population Schedule). Alexandria, Virginia, William and Ann Ratcliffe, line 26 and 29, digital image, accessed September, 21 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[5] Marriage Certificate, Alexandria, Virginia, William Ratcliffe and Ann Eliz’H (Elizabeth) Nightingill (Nightengale) Ancestry.com. September, 21 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/inst/discoveries/PfRecord?emailId=N-08e4bb45-f58c-41e4-a7d1-c310b4780848&collectionId=60214&recordId=19650&ahsht=2016-09-23T02:21:33&language=en-US&ahsh=a68fc4f13929fdb5db60a94cd50bef64

[6] 1870 U.S. Census (Population Schedule). Alexandria, Virginia, Lizzy Bell Ratcliffe, line 28, digital image, accessed September, 21 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[7] “Virginia Gazette and Virginia Advertiser” Alexandria gazette, April 12, 1894. Accessed September 21, 2016, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress.

 

[8] Charlotte Erickson, Invisible Immigrants: The Adaption of English and Scottish Immigrants in Nineteenth-century America (Coral Gables, FL: University of Florida Press, 1972), 56.

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