Sutcliffe Surname Genealogy

Sutcliffe comes from the Old English sueth
meaning “south” and clif or
“cliff.”  It is a west Yorkshire name.  It could come from
one of three places in west Yorkshire named Sutcliffe; or it could be
describing someone who lived by a south cliff.   A foreign
for the name has been suggested.  But this
looks unlikely.

Sutcliffe Resources on

Sutcliffe Ancestry

The name had its origins in Hipperholme, located in the lower reaches
of the Calder valley in west Yorkshire.  A Sutcliffe family
– recorded as Wilelmus Sothclyff – had already settled in Heptonstall
in the parish of Halifax by 1379 and the name spread strongly
in that part of the valley over the next 150 years. Nearby
Wadsworth accounted for 18 of the 23 Sutcliffes taxed in
Yorkshire in 1509.

Robert de Southclyff acquired Mayroyd House in Hebden Bridge
in 1435
and it stayed with the Sutcliffe family until 1584.
Later Sutcliffes in this area were:

  • a Sutcliffe clothier family which acquired the Great House in
    Colden in 1627.  William Mitchell Sutcliffe, a keen bryologist
    (gatherer of moss), lived there in the 19th century.  The house,
    subsequently remodelled, was sold in 2005 for a price in the region of
    one million pounds.
  • William Sutcliffe of Hochoile in Erringden who died there in 1637.
  • another William Sutcliffe, this one also a clothier, who
    Stansfield Hall in 1696.  His family were to remain there until
  • Joseph and Martha Sutcliffe of Wadsworth who moved to Stoneshey Gate
    in Heptonstall in the early 1700’s.  Their descendants were cotton
    mill owners in Hebden Bridge.
  • and the Rev. Tobit Sutcliffe who was the curate at Heptonstall
    when John Wesley visited the church in 1774.  Wesley wrote in his
“It was with difficulty that we got up
the steep mountain.  When we were upon the church the wind was
ready to bear us away.  The church was filled with serious
hearers.  No others would face such a storm.”

The 1881 census showed that Sutcliffes were still mainly concentrated
in this area, although with some spillover into Lancashire.  The
main towns with Sutcliffes were Halifax and Stansfield, the main
villages Heptonstall and Erringden.

Thomas Sutcliffe, the Victorian watercolorist, grew up and lived in the
Leeds area.  His eldest son Frank was a pioneering photographic
artist of the early 20th century.

America.   The name
in America was initially Sutliff as Abraham Sutliff, a Puritan,
wanted to distinguish himself from the English Sutcliffes.  He had
arrived at Plymouth Rock in the early 1620’s.  His descendants
moved westward through Massachusetts and Connecticut and in the 1790’s
made their home in the Wyoming valley of Pennsylvania.

Canada.  Some Loyalist
Sutliffes left America for Halifax, Nova Scotia after the Revolutionary
War was over.  The Rev. Ingham Sutcliffe came from Yorkshire in
1832.  He was an energetic Methodist missionary and held forth
there until his death in 1885.  His granddaughter Alison was a
dance choreographer in Toronto in the 1930’s.

Sutcliffe Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Sutcliffe Names

was the Dean of Exeter and private chaplain to James
I in the early 17th century.
Herbert Sutcliffe
was an opening batsman for the Yorkshire and
England cricket teams during the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Peter Sutcliffe was an English
serial killer, known as “the Yorkshire ripper.”
Serena Sutcliffe is the head
of Sotheby’s international wine department and one of the world’s
leading authorities on wine.

Select Sutcliffes Today

  • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply