Recorded as Cliss, Clisse and diminutives Clissell, Clissol, Clissett, Clissen, Clissin and possibly others, this is an English surname although one with Anglo-Saxon origins. It is considered to be a dialectal of the German name Cless or Kless. This itself is a variant of Klaus, an aphetic form of "Nicklaus" from the Greek personal name "Nikolaos". This means literally "to conquer people". Early recording examples of the surname include the christening of Niclas Cless on April 11th 1540, at Hassen-Nassau (Germany); the marriage of Jane Clisse and Edmund Webb on September 20th 1582, at Painswick in Gloucestershire; the marriage of Edeth Cliss and Henry Flower on June 15th 1635, at St.Giles Cripplegate, and the christening of Elizabeth Clissett at St Andews Holborn, on December 26th 1636, both in the city of London. A coat of arms was granted to the Cless family of the Tyrol, depicting two lions rampant, silver and red counterchanged. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Paulus Cless, which was dated April 11th 1540, a christening witness at Frankfurt am Main, Hassen-Nassua, during the reign of Emperor Charles V, Hapsburg Emperor, 1519 - 1558. 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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