Sir William RADCLIFFE of Ordsall

Born: 1502, Ordsall, Lancashire, England

Died: 12 Oct 1568, Ordsall, Lancashire, England

Buried: Manchester Church, Lancashire, England

Father: Alexander RADCLIFFE of Ordsall (Sir Knight)

Mother: Alice BOOTH

Married 1: Margaret TRAFFORD (dau. of Sir Edmund Trafford)


1. Alexander RADCLIFFE (Sir)

2. John RADCLIFFE of Ordsall (Sir)

3. Richard RADCLIFFE of Newcroft (Sir)



Married 2: Anne CATTERALL (d. 1551) (dau. of Ralph Catterall) (w. of Sir John Towneley of Towneley, High Sheriff of Lancashire) ABT 1542

Married 3: Catherine BELLINGHAM (dau. and co-heiress of Sir Robert Bellingham of Burneside) (w. of Sir Richard Assheton of Middleton)

Sir William took part in the Scottish expedition of 1544, when the Earl of Hertford invaded Scotland and laid siege to Edinburgh and Leith. For his services in the campaign William was knighted, and a similar honour was conferred upon his brother-in-law, Edmund Trafford. In the Military Muster of 1553 Sir William Radcliffe, Sir Edmund Trafford, and Sir John Atherton were appointed to command the Salford contingent.

In 1558 Calais was lost, and in the following Queen Mary died. During her reign many who were persecuted by the tyranny of the Queen's fanaticism had fled to Scotland and found refuge amongst the reformers in that kingdom, where national feeling resented the domination of Catholic France in their affairs, and on the accession of Elizabeth looked hopefully to the Protestant Queen of England to uphold her claims. When Henri II of France died from a would received in jousting at a tournament and was succeeded by his son, Francois II, the husband of the young Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth was forced to action in defence of her own realm. Mary and her consort styled themselves King and Queen of England, and the Duke of Guise sent troops to Scotland to subdue the nationalist reformers, preparatory to asserting his niece's claim to the English throne and rousing the Catholic north of England to her support. The Lords of the Congregation sent secret emissaries to the English Court to beseech Elizabeth's help. The Queen hated Knox and the Calvinists and would not have moved to their support but for the help which France had sent to Marie De Guise, Queen-Regent of Scotland and the impertinence of Francois and Mary in assuming the title to England. A fleet of fifteen sail was despatched to the Firth of Forth, and an army of eight thousand men was assembled on the Border. Levies of men and of arms were raised throughout the northern counties, and the Earl of Derby's despatch to Cecil mentions amongst those rendering this aid, 'Sir William Radcliffe, his son and heir, Alexander, who is a handsome gentleman, and Sir John Atherton, joined with them, and furnishing between them 100 men'.

Though still presumably Catholics the Radcliffes of Ordsall held their Queen and the realm entitled to their first loyalty. They maintained a close association with their FitzWalter cousins and doubtless were influenced largely by this friendship. By his will, made shortly before his death in 1556, Henry Radcliffe, second Earl of Sussex, settled the FitzWalter estates after the failure of his own heirs on Sir William Radcliffe of Ordsall and the heirs male of his body.

In the year 1568 Lancashire was visited by one of the recurrent sicknesses which at intervals swept the country, taking dread toll of rich and poor without discrimination. In Sep, Alexander Radcliffe, Sir Williams eldest son, fell a victim to the plague, and within three weeks his father also sickened and died, his end hastened by the untimely death of his beloved and most promising son. Sir William died at Ordsall on the 12 Oct 1568. He had increased his patrimony extensively. Shoresworth had been merged in the demesne of Ordsall, which with two water-mills, a fulling-mill, etc., was held by the Queen by a sixth part of a knight's fee, a rent now increased to sixtynine shillings and eightpence. He had seventeen burgages in Salford, and 100 acres of land there. The hamlet of Oldfield, lying between Ordsall and the town of Salford, was his, with twenty burgages and 30 acres of land. All was held of the Queen in free burgage and socage, under the borough charter, by a rent of twelve shillings. He had manors and lands in Flixton, Hope, Monton, Newcroft, Moston, Tockholes, Livesey, Oakenrod, Spotland, and Radcliffe. He was succeeded by his second son, Sir John.

Sir William was thrice married. After the death of Margaret Trafford, who bore him three sons and two daughters, he married Anne, the daughter of Ralph Catterall, the widow of Sir John Towneley of Towneley, High Sheriff of Lancashire from 1531 to his death in 1540. This marriage, of which there was no issue, took place about 1542, and Anne died in 1551. Some time after this Sir William married a third wife in Catherine Bellingham, youngest daughter and co-heiress of Sir Robert Bellingham of Burneside, in the county of Westmorland, the widow of Sir Richard Assheton of Middleton. Sir William was buried in Manchester Church, and on his monumental brass was inscribed.

For more information, see:

Ordsall Hall, a Tudor Manor House

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