Saturday, August 31, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ Ratchford of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia


This lineage begins with James Radsford, who was born about 1719 and married Margaret Ball on 26 December 1738 in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts.  This couple is a true brick wall to my genealogy research, since I do not know the origins or parents of either one.  The name Radsford is often spelled as Ratchford in the Bridgewater records, and it is the spelling adopted by the descendants.  They had five sons, no daughters, in the vital records. 

I descend from Thomas Ratchford, the second son.   He married Desire Gore on 1 December 1760 in Groton, Connecticut.  She was the daughter of Moses Gore and Desire Burris/Burrows/Burroughs.   About 1763 he settled in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.  He was part of the New England Planter movement, who came to Nova Scotia for the free land given away after the Acadian expulsion.  Records of his family can be found in the Township Book of Cornwallis.

Their daughter, Elizabeth Ratchford, is my 5th Great Grandmother.  She married David Lyons on 25 May 1779 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.  He was a recent settler from Connecticut to Nova Scotia.  They had twelve children in Cornwallis, and left many, many descendants.  My branch came back to New England.  I found much information about this lineage of Ratchfords in my ancestor, Reverend I. E. Bill’s, journals.  The Rev. Bill married Isabella Lyons Bill, the granddaughter of Elizabeth Ratchford and David Lyons.

I haven’t found any further Radsford or Ratchford records in Plymouth County, Massachusetts to trace this lineage back further than James Radsford, my 7th Great Grandfather.

My Ratchford genealogy:

Generation 1:  James Radsford, born about 1719; married on 26 December 1738 to Margaret Ball.  They had five sons in the Bridgewater, Massachusetts Vital Records.

Generation 2: Thomas Ratchford, born 19 June 1741 in Bridgewater, died 27 December 1813 in Horton, Kings County, Nova Scotia; married on 1 December 1760 in Groton, Connecticut to Desire Gore, daughter of Moses Gore and Desire Burris.  She was born 20 September 1740 in Groton, and died 11 April 1813 in Horton.  Three children.

Generation 3: Elizabeth Ratchford, born about 1764 and died 18 March 1845 in Nova Scotia; married on 25 May 1779 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia to David Lyons.  Twelve children.

Generation 4:  Thomas Ratchford Lyons m. Ann Skinner
Generation 5: Isabella Lyons m. Ebenezer Ingraham Bill
Generation 6: Caleb Rand Bill m. Ann Margaret Bollman
Generation 7: Isabella Lyons Bill m. Albert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 8: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)


Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Thanks for the fine research of a long ancestral chain.

    From my long experience in amateur genealogy, I find interesting the claim of Radsford to Ratchford, for which I am still curious as to details. I was aware of some Ratchford colonial instances in Massachusetts and others in Pennsylvania and the Carolinas.

    Having had some absurd claims on evolution of names and some believably possible claims, I am a little worried of the acceptance of the name as Radsford and a seeming evolution into Ratchford. More natural would be a Ratchford family having their name interpreted occasionally as Radsford by scriveners.

    That seems more likely than a Radsford family switching to Ratchford.

    I encountered this early with the claim of a Hurst family moving south after a century in Virginia and well-established as Hurst there, and dropping it totally and switching to Hearst in the location two states south.

    It may make billionaires pleased to claim a Virginia origin, but this their southern Hearst cousin recognizes that going from s simple spelling to a strange spelling (Hearst) after a century of the simple spelling appears to be convenience/desires of 20th and 21st century descendants and far removed from scholarship.

    Here is clearly different, but the situation may just be analogous and it is possible these folks were always Ratchfords, rather than as summarized by the patriarch's selected surname above.

    [As hard as it is to accept in the 21st century, the spellings in marriage records were as flawed as anywhere else in the times where spelling was not clear from some i.d. in your wallet; so with no details and only past experience I vote for the name being always as Ratchford to the family, subject to change with convincing details to the contrary.]

    1. As I stated above, the name was spelled both ways in the Bridgewater Vital Records. It is a spelling difference, and was probably Ratchford all along. The wedding record between James RADSFORD and Margaret Balls on 26 December 1738 is spelled one way, and the son's birth records between 1739 and 1752 are spelled RATCHFORD. Same family, two spellings at a time when spelling was not uniform for any family records.