This is a famous Anglo-Irish surname of ancient and noble origins. It is usually English, although the president of the United States of America in 1996-2000 claims to be of Irish origins. If English and sometimes Irish it is locational and originates either from the village of Glympton in Oxfordshire, derived from the Olde English pre 7th century word "tun" meaning a settlement, and "glyme" meaning bright stream, and recorded in the ancient Domesday Book of 1086 as Glintone, or from another village called Glinton in the county of Northamptonshire.This place was recorded in the year 1060 as Clinton although also as Glintone in the Domesday Book, the derivation and translation being from the ancient Saxon word "glinde", meaning a farm or enclosed field, and "tun", a settlement. The change from the initial 'g' to 'c' is a fairly common phenomena of nomenclature in the medieval period, as the country changed its language from Olde English spoken by the lower classes and French spoken by the noble and upper classes, to Chaucerian and later Shakespearean Middle English. In Ireland the name can be either English or Irish, and with or without the Mac prefix. The MacClinton's or McClintons originate from pre 10th century name Mac giolla Fhionntain, or the son of the follower of St Fintan, and were originally from Ulster. An English Clinton family have been the earls of Lincoln, and the dukes of Newcastle, and for many centuries held lands at the village of Glympton. The founder of this family was Geoffrey de Clinton, Chamberlain and Treasurer to King Henry Ist of England 1100 - 1135. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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