JOHN RATCLIFFE (1781-1852)
John was the farmer at LOWER WOODFIELD and a small-time cotton spinner working from a couple of cottages at SOURHALL. He was a familiar figure, often seen riding on horseback to the Manchester markets, wearing white knee breeches and a top hat. He took a leading part in local affairs such as the Turnpike Road Trust and the administration of the Poor Laws in his position of Overseer of the Poor. His interest in the poor was evident, and he set himself up as an amateur lawyer, giving help and advice to those who could not afford a professional but were in difficulty or trouble of some sort, and became known as “th’ hedge-side lawyer”. He was a sort of latter day one-man citizen advice bureau!