Last name: Clarke

This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is from a medieval occupational name for a scribe or secretary, or for a member of a minor religious order. The word "clerc", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Cler(e)c", priest, originally denoted a member of a religious order only, but since the clergy of minor orders were allowed to marry and so found families, the surname could become established. It should also be noted that during the Middle Ages virtually the only people who were able to read and write were members of religious orders and it was therefore natural that the term "clark" or "clerk" would come to be used of any literate man, particularly the professional secretary and the scholar. One Richerius Clericus, Hampshire, appears in the Domesday Book of 1086. The surname is first recorded in the early 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Reginald Clerc, noted in the Curia Regis Rolls of Rutland (1205), and John le Clerk, registered in the "Transcripts of Charters relating to the Gilbertine Houses", Lincolnshire (1272). The modern surname can be found as Clark, Clarke, Clerk or Clerke. Richard Clarke was noted as a passenger on the "Mayflower" bound for the New World in 1620. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Willelm le Clerec, which was dated 1100, in "The Old English Byname Register of Somerset", during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. 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.

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Gaynor
Does anyone have any information about Daniel Clarke born about 1849 in Kingswood,Cheshire? He died in Birkenhead,Wirral. We cannot trace where he is buried.

Mairead
There are hasidic jewish families in london and elsewhere with the surname Clark/e, So I think research needs to go a lot further. The passing on of literacy is the key, there are forms of distinguishing a literate person in the majority of languages. It most certainly does not originate in Ireland... thats the only thing we can't claim!!

Ocleirigh
Latin was used in England before the arrival of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes.the fourth, fifth and sixth century saw Anglo-Saxons Christianized and thus assimilating Latin. It seems to me Clarke is a bona-fide translation from the Latin Clericus. When the Normans(French) arrived in the eleventh century they had their own translation leclerc. The Irish claim for Clarke being ocleirigh, oclery etc anglicized to Clarke under Brian Boru (eleventh century) makes no sense. It seems Anglo/Scott Clarkes colonizing the north would have wanted to Gaelicize their Anglo-saxon surname for nationalisitc motives, just as we have Sean from John. I believe the surname could be one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon names pre-seventh century, originating from their conversion to Christianity and intermarriage with the indigenous Christianized Brittons.

Dorothy
Looking for Charles carter Clarke Hastings UK and R W Clarke Indian Railways, and Major General F J Clarke 1940 RIE JW Clarke Lt. ColOBE 1880-1960

Susan
Math thu Eamonn

Eamonn
Clarke is not Anglo-Saxon, it's an Irish surname, derived from O'Cleirigh.

Ian
Can you provide a reference to back that up? Unless you can I doubt it is true.

gaynor
I have also been told that Clarke with an "E" is Irish. Nothing to back it up though.Up to now my family is all from Lancashire.Over time names brought in from europe do change slightly.For example De-Lose,Deloose,Delooze,which is a Heugonot name.

Kasey C
I am a Clarke and my family tree does go back to the early parts of Anglo Saxons xx

Ty
Clarke with an 'e' is very common in ireland. The name is obviously not Gaelic, but going back in the family tree we have, it was originally O'Cleary, then Cleary, then finally Clarke. My grandfather said that the Clarkes in ireland with the 'e' on the end were originally O'Clearys & Clearys in most cases in the area he was from.

Scotchbrook Clarke
My birth surname is Clarke- my dad was born in Exeter, and I also have heard that the name is Irish in origin, for what it's worth.

Charles Clarke
Clarkes aren't Irish, but many Irish are Clarke's. My family has Clarke and Clark. I think some become tired of being called Clarkie, in their youth, and if you are a Clarke I'd wager you have been called that One famous American William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame, signed most documents William Clark, and a few he signed William Clarke. Personally, I find myself dropping the "e" due to laziness in my signature. I personally know a Clark that dropped the "e" legally, but now wants it back.

Alli.
@ roy - was his first name Louis?

roy clarke
What about the Scottish link to the name Clarke? My great, great grand-father was Scottish. I was born in Jamaica.

Neil Harvey
French names CANOT be fo Anglo-Saxon origin. One surviving Anglo-Saxon equivalent 'Clark' is 'Scrivener'.