Show ContentsClare History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Clare reached England in the great wave of migration following 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. [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 Clare family

The surname Clare 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 Clare family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clare 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 Clare History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Clare Spelling Variations

Before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Sound was what guided spelling in the Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Clare family name include Clair, Clare, Clere, O'Clear, O'Clair and others.

Early Notables of the Clare 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 Clare Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Clare Ranking

In the United States, the name Clare is the 7,620th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [6] However, in New Zealand, the name Clare is ranked the 852nd most popular surname with an estimated 859 people with that name. [7]

Ireland Migration of the Clare family to Ireland

Some of the Clare 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 Clare migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious chaos of this era, thousands of English families began to migrate to the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. The passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe; however, those who made the voyage safely were encountered opportunities that were not available to them in their homeland. Many of the families that reached the New World at this time went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. Research into various historical records has revealed some of first members of the Clare family to immigrate North America:

Clare Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Tho Clare, who arrived in New England in 1634 [8]
  • John Clare, who settled in Virginia in 1651
  • Mark Clare, who arrived in Maryland in 1651-1658 [8]
  • Walter Clare, who arrived in Virginia in 1655 [8]
  • James Clare, who landed in Virginia in 1655 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Clare Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Francois Clare, who landed in Virginia in 1700 [8]
  • Katherine Clare, who landed in Virginia in 1701 [8]
  • George Clare, who landed in Mississippi in 1798 [8]
  • William Clare, who landed in Mississippi in 1798 [8]
Clare Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Bartholomew Clare, aged 26, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1812 [8]
  • Michael Clare, who landed in New York, NY in 1817 [8]
  • Pierce Clare, aged 40, who arrived in Missouri in 1847 [8]
  • Nicholas Clare, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1848 [8]
  • Mr. Clare, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Clare Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Henry Cristifer Clare, who arrived in Wisconsin in 1918 [8]

Canada Clare migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Clare Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
  • Jean Clare, aged 35, who landed in Canada in 1642

Australia Clare migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Clare Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Clare, (b. 1802), aged 21, British miner who was convicted in Somerset, England for 7 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Competitor"18th March 1823, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1866 [9]
  • Joseph Clare, aged Emma, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Somersetshire" in 1839 [10]
  • William Clare, aged 30, a carpenter, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Telegraph"

New Zealand Clare migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Clare Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Samuel Clare, aged 33, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Comfort Clare, aged 31, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Maria Ann Clare, aged 16, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • George Clare, aged 13, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Mary Ann Clare, aged 11, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Clare migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [11]
Clare Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Jo Clare, aged 26, who arrived in Barbados in 1634 [8]
  • Nicholas Clare who settled in Barbados in 1678 with his wife and son

Contemporary Notables of the name Clare (post 1700) +

  • Sidney Clare (1892-1972), American comedian, dancer and composer. His best-known songs include "On the Good Ship Lollipop" (introduced by Shirley Temple), "You're My Thrill" (recorded by Billie Holiday), and "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone"
  • Madelyn Clare (1894-1975), also known as Madelyn Klare or Madelyn Donovan, an American actress during the early twentieth century
  • Robert Clare (b. 1983), English former professional footballer
  • Diane Clare (1938-2013), born Diane Dirsztay, an English film and television actress
  • Thomas "Tommy" Clare (1865-1929), English footballer who played at right-back, and football manager.
  • Peter Clare (1738-1786), London surgeon who wrote several treatises advocating a method of administering calomel by friction within the mouth as a remedy for venereal diseases [12]
  • George William Burdett Clare (1889-1917), English recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • John Clare (1793-1864), English poet
  • Ina Clare (1932-2010), British television actress, best known for her role as Ina Foot in the BBC soap opera EastEnders
  • Daryl Adam Clare (b. 1978), Jersey-born Irish former professional footballer and coach
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. William Clare (d. 1914), British Assistant Steward from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [13]

  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.?".,
  7. "Most Common Last Names in New Zealand." Forebears,
  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. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th March 2021). Retrieved from
  10. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) SOMERSETSHIRE 1839. Retrieved from
  12. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020
  13. Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from on Facebook