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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Irish, Spanish

Where did the English Clare family come from? When did the Clare family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Clare family history?

Clare is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Clare family lived in Suffolk. The family was originally from Clere, in Vexin, Normandy. The family de Clare were Norman lords who were descended from Richard fitz Gilbert, who accompanied William the Conqueror into England during the Norman Conquest. The family received huge estates including Clare, now a small town Suffolk; and Tonbridge, now a market town in Kent for their efforts.


Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Clair, Clare, Clere, O'Clear, O'Clair and others.

First found in Suffolk where Richard fitz Gilbert (d. 1114) was referred to as "Richard of Clare" in the Suffolk return of the Domesday Survey.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clare research. Another 250 words(18 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1793, and 1864 are included under the topic Early Clare History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Clare Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Clare family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 99 words(7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Clare or a variant listed above:

Clare Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Tho Clare, who arrived in New England in 1634
  • Jo Clare, aged 26, arrived in Barbados in 1634
  • John Clare settled in Virginia in 1651
  • Mark Clare, who arrived in Maryland in 1651-1658
  • Walter Clare, who arrived in Virginia in 1655

Clare Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Francois Clare, who landed in Virginia in 1700
  • Katherine Clare, who landed in Virginia in 1701
  • George Clare, who landed in Mississippi in 1798
  • William Clare, who landed in Mississippi in 1798

Clare Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Bartholomew Clare, aged 26, landed in Pennsylvania in 1812
  • Michael Clare, who landed in New York, NY in 1817
  • Pierce Clare, aged 40, arrived in Missouri in 1847
  • Nicholas Clare, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1848
  • Mr. Clare, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851

Clare Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Henry Cristifer Clare, who arrived in Wisconsin in 1918


  • George William Burdett Clare (1889-1917), English recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • John Clare (1793-1864), English poet
  • Thomas "Tommy" Clare (1865-1929), English footballer
  • Dustin Clare, Australian actor winner of the Logie award
  • Ina Clare (1933-2010), British actress, best known for her role as the background character Ina Foot in the BBC soap opera EastEnders



  1. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  3. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  4. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  7. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  8. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  9. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  10. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  11. ...

This page was last modified on 26 October 2012 at 05:52.

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