Ratcliffe, Thomas (1825-1912)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by L.M.

Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe, who died at Craven Arms on August 17th, 1912, was the oldest inhabitant, and the oldest Methodist in this circuit; a man of strong personality, indomitable will and lofty purpose. Though blessed with Methodist forbears and religious training, he seems to have possessed the “original” tendencies to worldly pleasure and self-seeking, but upon his conversion proved the reality of the change by a consistent and useful life. 

For thirty-four years he was a member of the Wesleyan Church, during which time he opened four Sunday Schools, and superintended them with marked success. Thirty years ago he opened a Sunday School among the Primitives in this village, with only five children. So great was his love for the children and the work of the Sunday School that more than once he gave up suitable and lucrative employment for their sake. No labour seemed too great, and no sacrifice too much to make in the interests of the children. 

Our minister conducted the funeral service in the Craven Arms Chapel, and the scholars led the funeral cortege to the grave. On September 1st Alderman B. Weale, (******LINK) a life-long friend of the deceased preached the funeral sermon.


Thomas was born abt1825 at Ludford, Shropshire, to parents Henry, a farm labourer (1851) and Ann. He was baptised on 10 April 1825 at Ludford.

Census returns identify the following occupations for Thomas.

  • 1851 labourer
  • 1861 railway labourer
  • 1871 parish clerk
  • 1881 general labourer
  • 1891 railway labourer
  • 1901 general labourer
  • 1911 retired platelayer

He married Elizabeth Martha Groves (abt1826-1906) on 22 May 1851 at Wistanstow, Shropshire. Census returns identify seven of eight children.

  • James (b1852) – agricultural labourer (1881)
  • Henry (1855-1899)
  • Thomas (1858-1922) – carter for miller (1911)
  • Richard (1860-1888) – a general labourer (1881)
  • Margaret (1863-1934) – a dressmaker (1881); married Joseph Robinson, a bricklayer (1901), in 1884
  • John (1867-1938) – a railway traffic inspector (1901); station master (1911)
  • Elizabeth (1869-1915) – a housekeeper (1901)

Thomas died on 17 August 1912 at Craven Arms, Shropshire.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1912/913

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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