Recorded as Claw, Clawe, Clawley, Clawsley, Clowley, Clousley, Clowsley and others, this is an English surname. It is locational but where from is a mystery as no such place in any of the known surname spellings has been found in the gazetters of the British Isles. There nearest is probably the Claw, a small river which rises near Holsworthy in Devonshire, and if so it is possible that the surname originates from a now 'lost' village which was on this river, but has now completely disappeared. The river name is pre 7th century Olde English from 'clawu,' meaning curved. However whilst the surname as Claw or Clawe is recorded in Devonshire from Elizabethan times, there is no record of any other spelling. Another possibility is that this surname is a form of Cloudesley, but if so we have not been able to find a link. Early examples of the recordings taken from surviving registers of the city of London include: Joseph Clousley who married Anne Bedwell at St Mary Magdalene, on February 12th 1681, Martha Clowsley who married William Cock at St James, Dukes Place, Westminster, on June 24th 1720, and Mary Clawley, who was christened at Carter Lane Independant church, Blackfriars, on March 11th 1736.
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