Select 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 source for the name has been suggested.  But this looks unlikely.

Select Sutcliffe Resources on The Internet

Select Sutcliffe Ancestry

England.  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 purchased Stansfield Hall in 1696.  His family were to remain there until 1851.
  • 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 journal:
"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.

Select Sutcliffe Miscellany

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

Select Sutcliffe Names

Michael Sutcliffe 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page