An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
Origins Available: English, Irish, Spanish
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.
The surname Clare was 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. 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."  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." 
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.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clare research. Another 267 words (19 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 45 words (3 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 United States in the 17th Century
Clare Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
Clare Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Clare Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
Clare Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
Clare Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
Clare Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
This page was last modified on 8 March 2016 at 11:05.