The Rattle Families

Thomas Watson Rattle was a Canadian genealogist who researched the Rattle family post-war until the late 1960s. He spent a considerable amount of time and money travelling to the UK and Europe, where he laboriously trawled through the genealogical records of those pre-computer days. He also received information and some photographs from those in the family who were prepared to speak to him at that time.

From the results of his researches over some twenty years, Thomas ultimately produced and published a book in 1968 called ‘The Rattle Families’. It is not known exactly how many of these typewritten books were published, one recent guess was perhaps less than thirty. The book covers the Rattle family in the counties of Suffolk, Yorkshire and Somerset in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Franconia (around the Bavaria region of Germany). At the same time, Thomas also researched and wrote a history about his mother’s family called ‘The Watson Families’. This was a much lesser work and no surviving copies have been found to date.

This mini-website is provided online by the Reffell Family History website, to bring to present and future descendants the historical background and the content of the book, as a fitting tribute to Thomas and his incredible achievement. Through Thomas’s endeavours, a valuable genealogical legacy has been preserved for future generations. Much of this, especially the ancestral photographs, may otherwise have otherwise have been lost forever.


Author’s Preface TW Rattle

The purpose of this book is to record the findings and discoveries regarding ALL Rattle families, in the world that I have found, including many with variant spelling such as Ratel, Rattel and Ratelle, mainly.

In the year 1945 the work commenced with modest intentions and assuming that there must be such families still living in England where our grandparents William Rattle and Maria Cole (just married) came from, in the year 1859. We already knew the place of origin in England of the Somerset branch. It was soon learned that Ipswich, Suffolk, England was the area from which to commence activities and Rattle families were located and contacted immediately. Almost from the beginning, I kept a record of all such families with supporting particulars, hoping that some day something would be discovered revealing how the two branches, in two different parts of England were related, in the distant past. Prior to July 1837, one must expect missing links and prior to the year 1800, missing links become more numerous. Prior to the year 1500,a single discovery of the name is an amazing event, a treasure, and in these pages is one dated 1301, a very important find.

For a deep penetration into the past this absence of Library records forced me to approach this undertaking by two methods. 1. A reasonable knowledge of the transition in spelling of words in the English language, over a period of hundreds of years. 2. A moderate knowledge of migrations. Armed with these two tools I was in time and with patience, rewarded. “Surnames” a book by Ernest Weekley, M.A., mentions that “I have investigated surnames with some approach to thoroughness – the fine German name Adolph and its atrocious Latinization into Adolphus, Raddle, Rattle from Raedwulf etc”.

In the Toronto University Library there is a copy of Domesday Book covering only the County of Somerset, England and the surname Radulf appears. No such book covering Yorkshire or Suffolk was in this Library. However, we understand that the original book in the PRO contains the names of high officials and the masses were mentioned like so many sheep, in numbers. I wish to thank all those who assisted me by furnishing particulars about their families and relations. This co-operation came from such Citizens living in Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, the United States of America, South Africa, England, France, Germany, Belgium and Canada and included some who are absolute strangers and having no relationship with any of our families (see pages 15 and 35). I also wish to thank members of the staffs of more than twenty two Libraries in most of the above mentioned places and countries. This book therefore commences where I began in the year 1945, with the Canadian-Suffolk and Somerset branches followed by others probably more deeply rooted in their particular region and land.”