Fierce storms battered the small fleet of forty ships accompanying William Penn and his family to a colony to be named Pennsylvania. Charles II of England granted this colony to Penn, and he gathered other Quakers and set sail on the 5th day of the 7th month of 1682. Thirty-nine passengers boarded a small sailing vessel – “Submission” – at the Port of Liverpoole for a 58-day journey.

On board was a 21-year-old Quaker bachelor named Richard Ratcliff; a lawyer, weaver, and planter. Quite an accomplished young man. Also listed on the manifest were the Claytons and the Blackshaws with a total of 13 children in the two families. Imagine leaving everything to begin a new adventure on foreign soil. These young families had guts!

The “Submission” arrived in Choptank, Maryland with one less passenger. Ten-year-old Abraham Blackshaw died – a tragic victim of storms – and his lifeless body was thrown overboard by his grieving family.

Richard is my 8th great-grandpa; the immigrant ancestor on my paternal line. His passage cost four pounds and five shillings. Richard’s life in America is still being celebrated by his descendants, including me.

Generational Storytelling is my passion. I’m leading an interactive 5-week class for family historians at a nearby community library. Generational Storytelling: The Workshop.

It’s exhilarating to discuss family histories with others who find it just as fascinating. The discoveries made – both theirs and mine – add fuel to our ever-burning fires, encouraging us to continue documenting our family stories for future descendants.

My fire was rekindled yesterday when my genealogist brother, Glenn, sent me a 196-page borrowed document he scanned. Our second cousin loaned Glenn the out-of-print book that includes stories of our shared ancestors.

As I delve into the stories of the Ratcliffs of England, and their American descendants I am mesmerized by the strength, character, and impact of my Quaker ancestors. I wish I’d been inclined to care when I was force-fed history in school.

Personal connections certainly make history come alive for me. I could hardly stop reading this fascinating book written by a distant relative. Reading this literally transports me across the ocean.

The book recounts England’s history since the year 1066 and describes the surroundings and struggles awaiting this group of Quaker settlers who escaped persecution in their Anglican-dominated homeland.

Life wouldn’t be easy – it never is – but these strong settlers would call America home for generations to follow. They would hold firm to their convictions and would remain “a stubborn lot” which was exactly how the author described the Quakers of England.

Once he arrived, Richard Ratcliff helped build the first Quaker church in America at Easton, Maryland. The Ratcliff family would grow, flourish, and move – finally to the plains of northern Kansas.

I continued scrolling, page by page through this digitized document. Imagine my delight to see a picture of my 2nd Great Grandmother in that book, as well as a copy of the manifest from the “Submission,” on which my 8th Great Grandfather was listed.

Just for fun – and because I’m a nerd – I reached out to a young guy I met last summer who is the childhood friend of my husband’s cousin. His last name is Clayton. On a whim, I texted him to ask if he knew much about his ancestors, if they were Quakers, and if they immigrated from England.

Yes, yes, and yes!

In fact, Matthew says for years his grandma told him about their Clayton ancestors who came along with William Penn to settle in North America. OMGoodness! How crazy is that?

Our families knew one another 341 years ago.

There are more stories to tell…even more stories about the Ratcliff family. Generational Storytelling can lead to some pretty crazy encounters! Amazing!

I continue capturing stories, one at a time, to record for future generations! It’s what I do!






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