This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a regional name from a district in North Yorkshire around Middlebrough. The derivation of Cleveland, which first appears circa 1110 in the Yorkshire Charters as "Clivelanda", is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "clif", cliff or hill, with "land", land; thus, "a hilly district". During the Middle Ages, when it became more usual for people to migrate from their birthplace, they would often adopt the placename as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. In the case of regional names they tended to be acquired when someone travelled a considerable distance from his original home, where a specific locational name would be meaningless to his new neighbours. Early recordings from Yorkshire Church Registers include: the christening of Christiane Cleveland on May 16th 1574, at Filey, and the christening of Ann Cleveland on August 10th 1599, at Normanton. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is described thus: "Per chevron black and ermine a chevron engrailed counterchanged, the Crest being a demi old man proper habited blue having on a cap red turned up with a hair front, holding in the dexter hand a spear headed silver on the top of which is fixed a line proper passing behind him, and coiled up in the sinister hand. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Cleveland, which was dated April 20th 1572, recorded at Filey, Yorkshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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