Last name: Clare

This most interesting and ancient surname, with its long association with the British nobility, has three possible origins. It may be Olde English and derive from the pre 8th century word 'cleare' which translates as 'bright or clear' and as such was applied to various rivers and a Manor in the county of Suffolk. A second possibility is French, from a place called Clere in Normandy and first recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book of England, whilst the third is baptismal from the French 'Claire' or the Latin 'Clara' which themselves translate as 'bright of fair'. The original spelling forms were Clere, Clarae, Clara, Clare, and Clair(e), however there is some confusion in that in the early days the surnames were almost always proceeded by the French preposition 'de', although by the 16th century its use had almost died out. Irish nameholders also trace their heritage from the same sources, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, and better known as 'Strongbow' was the great leader of the Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1170. The primary source of the surname is probably the Clare family of Clare in Suffolk, who received the Dukedom of Clarence in 1362. Early examples of the surname include Bogo de Clare of Oxford in the 1273 Kings Rolls, Goditha Clare of Kent in 1317, and Thomas Clair of St Giles Cripplegate, London on January 19th 1664. The 'first' Clare/Clair(e) into the New American Colonies of King James 1 was probably Mr Clare, Master of the Ship 'Gods Gift' of London. Unfortunately he was dead when he 'arrived' at Elizabeth City on or about February 16th 1623. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Clare, which was dated 1086, The Domesday Book for County Suffolk, England, during the reign of King William 1, 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2015

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Tash Clare
My dad's family is from long island, but originally Brooklyn, and before that I'm not sure. But my great grandpa Samuel Clare was born in the U.S., 1901. I don't know if his parents also were born here or came from somewhere else. His wife my great grandma, Lillian Clare, was born in Russia, I think about 1906.

My surname is Clair. So I wonder if I'm actually a descendant of Richard De Clare,"Strongbow",who initiated the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland in 1169.

Anne. Wilson/Cotton
Doing my 'Danish' family history we managed to get back to Vissenbjerg, Skalbjerg, to Hans Larsen Klare ( Clare ?) who was in 1778 84 years old. Does this mean he came over from Ireland?

Izzy clare
My name is izzy Clare, I'm from England :) I know my family have travelled a lot so I'm also part Australian, Irish, scottish, and a few other random things :)

Linda Parker
My paternal grandmother was May Clare and I know her great grandfather (Henry Clare) originated from Ireland. I am eager to know where in Ireland he was born and wonder if you could give me any pointers as to where in Ireland this name was most prolific. Many thanks for your help.

andrew forsey
my wife comes from the ireland clare via crewe of all places

peter clare
the name is not that widespread mostly dublin and a lot of us are related .

Linda Parker
Thank you Peter. At least this gives me a base with which to start from and I would love to visit Dublin one day!

Paul clare
My "Clare" surname came from the lymm area of Cheshire. After spending several years research, have found most have spread into the Warrington, liverpool and Stockport areas of The northwest of England. With a couple still living in the lymm area of Cheshire. My e-mail is

Elizabeth Charles (nee Clare)
My grandfather, James Clare, lived with his wife Elizabeth in Bootle Liverpool. He was originally living in Church Street, Warrington. His DOB is 1873. Wonder if Paul Clare has found him in his search?

Mindy Cleere
Visit for the latest news on Cleere, Clare, De Clare, Clere. Exciting new social network and forum to discuss the Cleere name and its variants. See also Strongbow

Neil Cleere
Visit the new website for the Cleere family name. Cleere is thought to be derived from De Clare. This websites looks at the history and whether Strongbow was our ancestor.