This surname is of topographic origin and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "clif" or "clive" meaning a slope, riverbank or cliff. The surname is first recorded in the latter half ofthe 11th Centruy, (see below). One, Alecok del Clif appears in the 1274 "court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield", Yorkshire and a John del Clyfes is entered in the same rolls in 1315. In the modern idiom, the name has at least ten spelling variations including Cliff(e), Clive, Cleave(s), Cleeve(s), Cleve, Cleft etc..On October 25th 1611 one, John Carter married a Jane Cleaves in London and on October 29th 1643 Marah Cleaves an enfant, was christened at St. Giles, Cripplegat. The final "s" on the name preserves the Olde English genetive ending i.e. "of the cliff or clive". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gisleber de (of) Cliua. which was dated 1084, in the "Geld Rolls of Wiltshire". during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 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.
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