Iliff Family in America
Richard Iliff emigrated in the mid-1720s from England to America. But, did he originate from Kibworth?
That was the question posed by modern day Iliffs from the state of Kansas. The possibility arose when the family viewed Michael Wood’s TV series ‘The Story of England’ (filmed mainly in the Kibworth area) when it was broadcast in the United States. Researchers for the film pointed to Kibworth’s family names going back centuries, of which one was Iliff/Iliffe.
So Chris Iliff in Kansas contacted the Kibworth History Society via our website seeking assistance and a visit to Kibworth. Douglas Iliff particularly had studied their family tree and evidence indicated that their British ancestor Richard had sailed from Hull to Pennsylvania, but the trail was cold on where in England Richard was born and brought up.
The History Society undertook searches of local records, and a week’s visit to England was arranged by the Iliff family; a combination of business and touring. Documents here revealed numerous Richard Iliffs/Iliffes from the early 18th century, with many Iliff/Iliffe descendants staying in Kibworth through the 19th and 20th centuries. Iliffe, with the ‘e’, was the most common spelling in the Kibworth area, though Iliff families were also present. The Richard Iliff name for the period 1690-1730 was also found in Fleckney, Leicester and over into Northamptonshire.
Left to right: George Weston, Patrick Iliff, Chris Iliff, Doug Iliff, Paul Iliff, Norman Harrison
Eight members of the Kansas Iliffs arrived in Kibworth in the first week of September, staying twenty four hours as part of their week long visit to this country. Documentary evidence prepared by the History Society was discussed. The family wanted to see the Kibworths for themselves and experience what they are like today. Members of the Society led guided tours, of Harcourt in the morning and Beauchamp in the afternoon, explaining the local history and conveying what life would have been like for Kibworth folk back in the early 1700s. The Iliffs also attended the Society’s evening meeting on the same day.
So what was the conclusion? The visitors thoroughly enjoyed Kibworth: coming here was said to be well worthwhile. But clear documentary evidence that their Richard Iliff was born and brought up here was just not available. Perhaps he was, perhaps not!