Claffe History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Claffe is of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin. It is derived from the Old English "cloh," meaning "ravine" or "steep-sided valley," and was first used to refer to a "dweller in the hollow." [1]

Early Origins of the Claffe family

The surname Claffe was first found in Denbighshire, where the most prominent branch of the family held a family seat from the 13th century. [2]

"The Cloughs of Plas Clough [Denbighshire] claim a Norman origin, from the Seigneurs de Rohan, and appeal to their name and arms for proof." [3]

By the 14th century the name was scattered throughout ancient Britain. The Lay Subsidy Rolls of 1332 listed Alicia del Clogh and Robert del Clogn in Lancashire. Later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed Thomas del Clogh and Henricus de Cloghe. [4]

Exploring this last entry for Yorkshire, "the Cloughs belonged to an old gentle family of Thorp Stapleton, a member of which was a justice of the peace in the reign of James I. [Crabley] Clough is a West Riding hamlet." [5]

Early History of the Claffe family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Claffe research. Another 143 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1270, 1570, 1730 and 1570 are included under the topic Early Claffe History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Claffe Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Clough, Cluf, Cluffe, Cluff, Cloughe, Clow, De Clue and many more.

Early Notables of the Claffe family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Richard Clough (d. 1570), Welsh "merchant and factor for Sir Thomas Gresham, came of a family which had been long seated in North Wales. His father, Richard Clough, was of...
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Claffe Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Claffe family

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Claffe or a variant listed above: Humphrey Clough, who arrived in Virginia in 1623; Hannah Cluff, who came to Maryland in 1626; Richard Clough, who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1630.



The Claffe Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Sine macula
Motto Translation: Without spot.


  1. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.


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