Recorded as Cleobury, Clebury, Clybury, Clibery and Clibbery, the latter four being local dialectal forms, this is an English locational surname. It originates from the villages of Cleobury in the county of Shropshire. These stand on the Clee Hills. There are actually several places called Cleobury including North Cleobury and Cleobury Mortimer, although the former South Cleobury seems to have beome one of the three thousand or so 'lost' villages of Britain. Any or all of the places could be the source of the surname. Clee or Cleo probably derives from the pre 7th century word 'claeg' meaning clay or 'clifu', a cleft or cliff, but this is unclear from the recordings. To the prefix was added 'burh' meaning a hill or 'burg' a castle or fortified place. The place name appears as 'Cliberie' in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, from which it is easy to see how the later surnames (or at least some of them), originated. Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say that they were names given to people after they left their original homes, to move somewhere else. In so doing they took or were given as their surname, the name of their former home. Spelling being at best indifferent and local accents very thick, often lead to the development of 'sounds like' spellings. In this case early examples of recordings in the surviving church registers of Shropshire include John Clebury at Ludlow on January 7th 1570, Joane Cloebury, who was christened at Ludlow on November 10th 1644, and John Clybury, who married Mary Price at Kemberton, on May 12th 1668.
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