This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, the surname may be a locational name from "Clearhedge Wood" in Sussex, which is of obscure etymology; the second element is presumably the Olde English pre 7th Century "hecg", hedge, the first is unidentified. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname may also be from the Middle English, Old French female given name "Clarise", itself coming from the Latin "Claritia", a derivative of "clarus", famous, bright."Clarice" was popular on account of its occurrence in the romances, where it is the name of the wife of Rinaldo and sister of Huon of Bordeaux. The latinized form "Clarissa" was revived by Richardson in his novel "Clarissa Harlowe". The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 13th Century (see below) and can also be found as Claris, Clarage, Clardge and Claridge. Robert de Claurugge is noted in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex (1327). Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the christening of Mabell, daughter of John Clarridge, on February 21st 1624, at St. Margaret's, Westminster; and the marriage of Sarah Clarridge and William Smith on July 7th 1657, at St. Michael Bassishaw. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Clarice, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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