Chronicler of the Rattle Family

Thomas Watson Rattle (1900-1973)

Thomas & Ruby Rattle

Thomas Watson Rattle (baptised as Tom Watson Rattle) was a Canadian who researched all the various branches of the Rattle family from around 1945 up until the late 1960s. He spent a lot of time and money in traveling to the UK and laboriously trawling through many hundreds of parish registers and records in those pre-computer days. He also spent considerable effort in contacting as many of those in the family who were living at the time in order to get genealogical information from them, as well as copying a number of valuable photographs that have probably not have survived anywhere else. The book covers the counties of Suffolk, Yorkshire and Somerset in the UK, Canada, Australia, and Franconia (the present day Bavaria region of Germany).

Thomas was born 14 February 1900 in Victoria County Ontario to Frederick Rattle (1868-1948) and Agnes Alice Watson (1861-1946). He had three brothers; William George (1901-1944), Charles James (1903-) and Russell Frederick (1905-). In the 1911 census they are living in Markham Ontario, the family were listed as Methodists and Frederick’s occupation is a farmer.

To give some financial support to his researches, Thomas produced a book that was typewritten and bound up to sell. It is very comprehensive for it’s time and breaks the family down into branches with large numbers of people listed. It has to be said that some in the family apparently wanted nothing to do with him, so there are certain branches that lack as much detail. Therefore the coverage can be somewhat variable and there are a number of omissions and a few mistakes, but the work was a major achievement given the circumstances of the day. In his preface to the book, Thomas says that his interest started in 1945 when he began to wonder where his ancestors had lived in England before they emigrated to Canada around 1859. The trail led him back to Suffolk, in particular a small village called Otley, near Ipswich. Thomas was also the author of another genealogy book ‘The Watson Family’ published in 1965. This was a lesser work and seems not to have survived.

The book was entitled ‘The Rattle Families’ and subtitled ‘(including those with the surname Ratel, Rattel and Ratelle) Genealogy and History – Of interest to every living descendent and their posterity’ and ran to 153 pages. It was clearly a ‘work in progress’ and was finally published by Thomas in Toronto in 1968. At that time he was living at 2567 Lakeshore Boulevard West in Toronto. An example page from the book is shown on the right, in this case are four copies of photographs. The lower right photograph being Samuel Rattle and Mary Ann Hart, great-great grandparents of the Reffell Family History website owner.

A number of copies of The Rattle Families are known to be in private ownership. Publicly accessible copies are at the following Canadian locations; McMaster University in Hamilton, the University of Ottawa and the University of Ontario.

In England the book can be found can be found in the London Guildhall Library, the library of the Society of Genealogists (London) and the Suffolk Record Office (Ipswich). Copies in the United States are at; Allen County Library (Fort Wayne), Detroit Library, the Library of Congress, the Library of Michigan, New York Historical Society, the New York Library, Newberry Library (Chicago), Seattle Library and the Wisconsin Historical Society. In Australia a copy can be found in the state libraries of Queensland (Brisbane) and Victoria (Melbourne).

The Rattle Families is also available as a mini-website of the Reffell Family History website.

Thomas was married twice; to Ruth Helen Cardwell (1901-1936) in 1928, and then to Ruby Birdsall Sherlock (1895-1981) in 1938, and the photograph above was taken shortly afterwards. There were no children from either of the marriages. He was the Treasurer of the Corporation of Mimico Toronto for thirty three years and retired in 1965 after two heart attacks. A number of Thomas’s ancestors are buried in East Scarborough (near Toronto), at the St Margaret in the Pines Cemetery, but Thomas and Ruby are buried with Ruby’s parents in the Park Lawn Cemetery in Toronto.

This information has been provided by the courtesy of Jim Chapman and Anne Vogt in Canada, other information comes from ‘The Rattle Families’.