Show ContentsClaire History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

When the ancestors of the Claire family emigrated to England following the Norman Conquest in 1066 they brought their family name with them. They 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. [1]

The parish of St. Cleer in Cornwall is an important location for the family. "The name of this parish is derived from a celebrated female saint called Clare, to whom the church is dedicated, and who is presumed to be its tutelar guardian. She was born of an honourable family in Italy, and having rendered herself famous for the austerity of her manners, she set up a college of virgins, which, after her name were called the order of the Poor Clares of St. Benedict, under the solemn vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity, according to the rule of St. Francis. St. Clare died in the year 1252, aged 70. Now by the death of St. Clare, St. Francis, and St. Benedict, says Hals, may be nearly computed the ages of those churches dedicated to them, and bearing their names in this county. From this parish was denominated an ancient family of gentlemen surnamed De St. Cleare, from whence are descended the St. Cleares of Tudwell, in Devonshire." [2]

Early Origins of the Claire family

The surname Claire was first found in Suffolk where "Richard de Clare (d. 1090) held no less than ninety-five lordships in Suffolk, all attached to his chief lordship of Clare in the same county. To this family we owe the name of an English town, an Irish county, royal dukedom (Clarence), and Cambridge college." [3]

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

By the time of the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273, a branch of the family was found in Cambridgeshire as that rolls listed Alan filius Clare as holding lands there at that time. The same rolls also listed: Bogo de Clare in Oxfordshire; Gilbert de Clare in Bedfordshire; Richard de Clara in Somerset; Thomas de Clare in Lincolnshire; and William de Clare in Norfolk. [3]

In 1379, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls was complied and it listed the name as both a surname and a forename: Isabella Clare; Clara Dey; and Clare Schepard. [3]

Another source confirms the wide migration of the family by the 13th century: "Clare is an ancient Oxfordshire name. In feudal times the De Clares were a very powerful family in southern England. In the 13th century the name of De Clare or De Clar' was established in Oxfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Somerset." [4]

Some of the family were found at Waldingham in Surrey in ancient times. "This place appears to be mentioned in Domesday Book under the appellation of Wallingham; it was held at the time of the survey under Richard de Clare, and lands here were possessed by the Clares for some time subsequently." [5] And another branch was found at Yeddingham in the East Riding of Yorkshire. "In 1163, Roger and Helwysia de Clere founded a priory here for nine nuns of the Benedictine order, dedicated to the Virgin Mary." [5]

Early History of the Claire family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Claire research. Another 134 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1793, 1864, 1100, 1148, 1130, 1176, 1153, 1217, 1172, 1220, 1577, 1628, 1677, 1604, 1605, 1618, 1416 and 1471 are included under the topic Early Claire History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Claire Spelling Variations

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries. For that reason, spelling variations are common among many Anglo-Norman names. The shape of the English language was frequently changed with the introduction of elements of Norman French, Latin, and other European languages; even the spelling of literate people's names were subsequently modified. Claire has been recorded under many different variations, including Clair, Clare, Clere, O'Clear, O'Clair and others.

Early Notables of the Claire family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1100-1148); Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (1130-1176); and Richard de Clare, 3rd Earl of Hertford (1153-1217.) Isabel de Clare, was the 4th Countess of Pembroke (1172-1220.) John Clare (1577-1628), was an English Jesuit, born...
Another 49 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Claire Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Claire Ranking

In the United States, the name Claire is the 17,829th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [6] However, in France, the name Claire is ranked the 3,135th most popular surname with an estimated 2,000 - 2,500 people with that name. [7]

Ireland Migration of the Claire family to Ireland

Some of the Claire family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 73 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Claire migration to the United States +

To escape the uncertainty of the political and religious uncertainty found in England, many English families boarded ships at great expense to sail for the colonies held by Britain. The passages were expensive, though, and the boats were unsafe, overcrowded, and ridden with disease. Those who were hardy and lucky enough to make the passage intact were rewarded with land, opportunity, and social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families went on to be important contributors to the young nations of Canada and the United States where they settled. Claires were some of the first of the immigrants to arrive in North America:

Claire Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Michael Claire, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1764 [8]
Claire Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • George Claire, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1844 [8]
  • John Claire, who landed in California in 1875 [8]

Canada Claire migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Claire Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
  • Sister Claire, who arrived in Montreal in 1659

Contemporary Notables of the name Claire (post 1700) +

  • William Francis Claire, American editor of "Voyages"
  • Glen C. Le Claire, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly from Brown County 1st District, 1956 [9]
  • Annabel Claire Giles (1959-2023), British television and radio presenter
  • Shannon Claire Spruill (1975-2021), American professional wrestler, wrestling manager and actress better known by her ring name Daffney
  • Leah Claire Borrie, American director, known for her work on Babygirl (2021), The Day the World Expanded (2016) and Corbin Nash (2018)
  • Diana Claire Millay (1935-2021), American actress, best known for her work for her continuing roles on two daytime soap operas, Dark Shadows and The Secret Storm
  • Renée Claire Fox (1928-2020), American sociologist
  • Mrs. Beverley Claire Bell C.B.E., British Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 17th June 2017, for services to Road Safety and the Freight Industry
  • Ms. Veronica Claire Jobbins M.B.E., British Head of Learning and Participation (Dance) for Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018, for services to Young People [10]
  • Nina Claire Snaith, British mathematician at the University of Bristol

  1. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  5. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  8. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  9. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 9) . Retrieved from
  10. "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 4 July 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018, on Facebook