Double-barrelled surnames, usually created following a marriage between two families, have no overall meaning as a unit, but the separate parts have their own history and derivation. In this instance, the name Clarke is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational name for a scribe, secretary, or member of a minor religious order. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "cler(e)c", priest. In medieval times, the clergy, as learned men, frequently undertook scribal and administrative tasks. Some of them, members of minor orders, were permitted to marry, and so found families, thus enabling the surname to become established. One Robertus Clarke was noted in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire, and on February 16th 1623, Edward Clarke, an early emigrant to the New World, was recorded on a "List of the Living" in Virginia. Williams is a patronymic form of the Norman male given name William, from the Old Germanic "Wilhelm", a compound of the elements "wil", will, desire, with "helm", helmet, protection. One Robertus filius (son of) Willelmi was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, and a Richard William appears in the 1279 Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire. Thomas Willames (Staffordshire, 1307), is the earliest known bearer of the patronymic. The plays of renowned U.S. dramatist Tennessee Williams (1912 - 1983), include: "The Glass Menagerie" (1944), and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1955). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Willelm le Clerec, which was dated circa 1100, in the "Old English Byname Register", 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.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017