Radcliffe, Sir George (1593–1657), lawyer and royalist, was baptised 21 April 1593, the son of Nicholas Radcliffe of Overthorpe in the parish of Thornhill, Yorkshire, and Margaret Marsh of Darton, Yorkshire. After attending school in Oldham (1607–9), he matriculated at Oxford on 3 November 1609 and graduated BA on 24 May 1612. He had already been admitted to Gray's Inn, on 5 February 1612, and was called to the bar in 1618. In 1632 he became a bencher in the Gray's Inn society. During Christmas 1618, he was introduced to a powerful Yorkshire landowner Sir Thomas Wentworth (qv), who by the mid 1620s had made a name for himself as one of the leaders of the opposition to the government in parliament. Aloof, austere, hardworking, self-righteous, unscrupulous and determinedly on the make, the two men were remarkably similar in personality and temperament. From 1618, Radcliffe was Wentworth's legal adviser and from the early 1620s assisted in the management of Wentworth's estate. By the mid 1620s his legal practice was sufficiently successful to demand his residence in London for much of the year. After much soul searching in April 1627, he refused to contribute to the forced loan demanded by the king and spent some months in prison. His example may have spurred Wentworth similarly to refuse and suffer imprisonment. He sat in the 1628 parliament, although he does not appear in the printed list of members. In 1629 Wentworth, by then reconciled with the crown, used his influence to have him made king's attorney in the north of England.
Wentworth was made lord deputy of Ireland in 1632, and in the following January sent Radcliffe to Dublin to oversee the administration of the kingdom until he arrived In July 1633. In October 1633 he was sworn a member of the Irish privy council. Although not appointed to a great office of state, he was perhaps the most powerful and influential figure in Wentworth's government. Wentworth admitted that the only people he trusted in Ireland were Radcliffe and his fellow Yorkshireman, Christopher Wandesforde (qv). Radcliffe acted as the government's chief legal adviser and carried out the prosecution of a number of powerful nobles for the illegal possession of church and crown lands, most notably Richard Boyle (qv), the earl of Cork. Although he did not possess an exceptionally gifted legal mind, his industrious burrowing served Wentworth well in the recovery of crown and church lands. With regard to the detection of technicalities and loopholes he was unmatched in his day. Radcliffe was accused of subverting the common law, but such methods had always been employed against catholic landowners: his real crime was to use them against protestants as well. He was also the manager of the Irish customs farm, in which he had invested, and was consulted on economic matters. He became a member of the reconstituted commission for defective titles at its erection on 26 June 1634, was appointed to the commission for ecclesiastical causes in 1638, and sat as MP for Armagh county or borough in 1634–5 and for Sligo county in 1640–41. In the former parliament and for the first session of the latter parliament he acted as Wentworth's watchdog in the house of commons, often openly intimidating MPs to ensure majorities for government bills. When the lord deputy was in England in 1639–40, Radcliffe effectively governed Ireland in his name and supervised the 1640 elections to the Irish parliament.
He benefited handsomely from his services rendered in Ireland. In May 1633, the king granted him £500 a year in compensation for his lost legal practice and by 1636–7 his stake in the customs farm yielded £2,000 p.a. in profits. Like Wentworth, he invested in commercial enterprises designed to develop the Irish economy and on 12 February 1638 he was granted licence to export 2,000 ounces of plate into Ireland. He acquired land in Fermanagh, and Dublin (586 acres in Ranelagh), and with Wentworth purchased a large estate from the O'Connor Sligo in county Sligo in 1637. The last transaction proved controversial as the estate was heavily mortgaged to Nicholas French who had been in actual possession of much of the estate. Wentworth and Radcliffe agreed to pay off the O'Connor Sligo's debts in return for his estate, but do not appear to have fully honoured this commitment. Moreover, O'Connor Sligo had only agreed to sell because he had been told the government would confiscate his estate anyway. The dubiousness of these proceedings can be gauged by the fact that the two men used a third party to cover their involvement in this transaction.
By the autumn of 1640 the English parliament was in the ascendant and was calling the arbitrary rule of Wentworth in Ireland into question. On 15 November the king was forced to summon Radcliffe to London, where he was arrested for high treason on his arrival on 3 December. He was impeached by the English house of commons on 29 December and by the Irish house of commons on 4 March 1641. He was never brought to trial and the main reason behind his impeachment was apparently to prevent him from acting as Wentworth's witness at his trial or from advising him as to his defence. Early in January, at the king's request, he drew up an answer to the various complaints exhibited by the Irish parliament against Wentworth's government. On 9 May 1641, the eve of Wentworth's execution, he bade farewell to his friend by letter, promising to serve his son as he had served the father. Some years later he wrote a short biography of Wentworth, which provides some insights into his private life. Meanwhile, back in Ireland, Tadhg O'Connor Sligo simply seized his father's old estate from Radcliffe's agents in April 1641. The king's order of summer 1641 that the estate be handed over to trustees of the Wentworth and Radcliffe families was ignored and rendered moot by the outbreak of war in first Ireland and then England in 1641–42.
He was released some time after June 1642 and was with the king in 1643 in Oxford, where he was made DCL by the university on 31 October. The king consulted him on Irish matters in 1643–4, when he supported and advised James Butler (qv), marquess of Ormond, in negotiating with the confederate catholics. He was an exile in Caen in April 1647 and parliament sequestered his lands in both Ireland and England. Until his death he was generally around the royalist court in exile, in Paris and the Hague. He died in considerable poverty at Flushing in 1657 and was buried there on 25 May. His first wife was a daughter of Baron Finch, keeper of the great seal of England. On 21 February 1622 he married Anne, daughter of Sir Francis Trappes of Harrowgate, Yorkshire. Radcliffe had one son, Thomas. Following the Restoration and after a lengthy legal dispute with Cromwellian soldiers, Thomas was granted his share of the old O'Connor Sligo estate (over 9,000 acres) by Charles II.