Recorded in a number of spellings including Klau, Klaue, Klawe, Klawer, and Klauber, and found in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, this is a surname of pre-medieval Germanic origins. It is or rather was almost certainly a nickname, and probably for somebody who had a physical deformity such as a club foot or hand from the pre 7th century word 'clawe'. However it may also have been residential for a person who lived by a sharp bend in a river, or possibly in severe terrain. If a nickname, it is one of a large group of such names, which today would probably be regarded as offensive, but in olden times were simply taken as a feature of nature. These names include Krumbein (stiff leg), Breithaupt (broad head), and Schiele (squint), although these are only a few of the many examples. Amongst the early examples of the recordings taken mainly from surviving rolls, registers and charters, of the late medieval period, are those of Hermann Clawe of Eblingen, Germany, in the year 1325, Hans Rudolph Klauber, given as being the Burger of the city of Basel, Switzerland, in 1590, and Thomas Klawe of Lichenstein, in 1609.
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