This most interesting and unusual surname is of Old German origin, and is either a topographical name for someone who lived near a field of clover, or a metonymic occupational name for someone who grew clover to feed cattle, from the Middle High German, "kle", clover, from the Old High German word "kleo". Other surnames which have derived from this source include Kleeman, Kleeborn, Kleehuhler, Klees and Kleewein. The surname is first recorded in Southern Germany in the mid 14th Century (see below), while other early examples of the name in German Church Registers include the marriage of Barbara Klee and Niclass Jeckels on August 22nd 1574 at Birkenfeld, Oldenburg; and the christening of Barbaram, daughter of Jacob and Anna Klee on April 19th 1583 at Pfalf, Germersheim, Baden.A Coat of Arms depicting two blue swords crossed diagonally, with three green trefoils (three leaved grass), one in chief, one left and one right, on a gold shield, was granted to a family of the name at Cleves. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hans Kle, which was dated 1361, a tenant farmer in Oberstdorf, Southern Germany, during the reign of Emperor Charles 1V, known as "The Holy Roman Emperor", 1347 - 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.1378.
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