This most unusual surname is a variant form of either Redcliff, Radcliffe or possibly Rodley, all locational surnames of Old English origins. Furthermore they all have much the same meaning of the Red Cliff, or perhaps the Reed Cliff, a number of such places being recorded from the earliest times in different parts of Britain, although Rodley translates as 'the reed enclosure'. The reasons why spellings change are as varied as the variants themselves, but as a rule of thumb the further a name travels from its place of origin, the greater the variance in the spelling.In the case of Rodliff, it is said that this was originally Rodcliff, and this is almost certainly the case, Rodcliff, which is definitely a form of Radcliff being recorded in Yorkshire in 1658, when Christopher Rodcliffe married Anne Smith at Ripon on November 17th of that year. From there the name seems to have travelled in due course to Cornwall where John Rodliff who married Jane Parkin and possibly at St Ervan, Cornwall. What is known is that on February 24th 1836 they were recorded there as christening witnesses, and on at least four occasions after that date. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter de Radecliua, which was dated 1182, The County Pipe Rolls of Devon, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as 'The Church Builder', 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.
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