This surname is of English origin. It is a locational name derived from any of the places in various parts of England called Ratcliff(e) (Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire), Radcliffe (Lancashire, Nottinghamshire), Redcliffe (Warwickshire) Radclive (Buckinghamshire) Rathclyffe, Rathcliffes (Devon), coming from the Old English 'read' meaning 'red' plus 'clif' or 'slope', or, 'riverbank'. it dates back to the late 12th Century (see below). Further recordings include William de Radeclive, (circa 1272), Lancashire. Willelmus de Radclif (1379) 'The Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire'. Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Radclyffe, Ratcliffe, Radeliffe, son of Anthony, was christened at St. Bartholomew Exchange, London, in 1569, and James, son of Thomas Radcliffe, was christened at St. Margaret, Westminster, on the 25th June 1634. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter de Radeliva, which was dated 1182, in the Devonshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as 'The Builder of Churches', 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.