Sunday 5 April 2020

Historic Liverpool ~ Mapping John Radcliffe

John Radcliffe has always been an enigma to me, ever since I commenced this genealogy journey. I’m especially drawn to his ‘missing years’ now – that decade between about 1848 when he married Mary  (maiden name not confirmed), and 1858 when he emigrated to Melbourne, Australia. I suspect he was in Liverpool, England, for at least part of this time. His probable marriage to Mary Leonard in St Nicholas Church, in 1848, has been noted, as well as the birth of their daughter Ann(e), my would-be great-great-grandmother, in October 1849.

'John Ratcliffe, plasterer' was listed in Gore's Directory of Liverpool in 1848 and 1849, when he lived at 66 Bispham Street, Marybone. I'd say these records both refer to my third great-grandfather. His name was not mentioned in the 1847 directory, the directory for 1850 is unavailable, and he was not listed in 1851.

John Radcliffe's residences in Liverpool
John Radcliffe resided at Sawney Pope Street on 25 January 1848 when he got married, then at 66 Bispham Street in 1848 and 1849, and at Addison Street by the time Anne’s birth was registered on 2 November 1849. It turns out, these three little streets all ran parallel to each other, off Marybone, in the same small area in Liverpool city.

MA Gage’s Trigonometrical plan of Liverpool, 1836

During this period, Liverpool city saw a massive influx of impoverished immigrants, mostly destitute Irish fleeing the potato famine back home. The whole neighbourhood was densely overcrowded. Sadly, people lived in squalid, disease-ridden conditions. The following map, with the relevant street names added, provides a better indication of the buildings involved. The family probably rented just one room of the house.

Ackermann’s Panoramic view of Liverpool, 1847

What would bring John Radcliffe here, from the relative comfort of his birthplace, at Malahide, Co. Dublin? Malahide is situated on the east coast of Ireland, and certainly did not experience the worst effects of the potato famine.

It now makes a little more sense why John would move the family to Rainhill, a smaller village, more like Malahide, less than ten miles from Liverpool city. This is where my Radcliffe family were found in the 1851 (30 March) Census of England, explaining why John Radcliffe was not listed in the Liverpool city directory from 1851 onward.

  1. Church of England marriage register, Radcliffe-Leonard marriage, 1848, St Nicholas Church, Liverpool, Lancashire, England, accessed ($)
  2. Copy birth register, Ann Radcliffe, 1849, General Register Office, England & Wales.
  3. Gore's Directory of Liverpool and its environs, 1848 and 1849, accessed FamilySearch.
  4. MA Gage, Trigonometrical plan of the town and port of Liverpool, 1836; Ackermann’s panoramic view of Liverpool, 1847, accessed Old maps of Liverpool, Historic Liverpool.
  5. Ratcliffe household, Rainhill, Prescot, Lancashire, 1851 Census of England and Wales, accessed ($)

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