Show ContentsClarey History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Clarey originally appeared in Gaelic as O Cleirigh, from the word "cleireach," which means "clerk" or "cleric." The name denotes a descendant of Cleireach, who was born around 820 AD, and descended from Guaire the Hospitable, the famous king of Connacht.

Early Origins of the Clarey family

The surname Clarey was first found in County Galway. A descendent of Guaire, Cleireach, the namesake of the O'Clerys, was born around 820 AD, about two hundred years before hereditary surnames came into general use. [1] However, the name O'Clery first appeared around 950 AD, making it one of the earliest recorded hereditary surnames. The O'Clerys were the dominant sept in what is now the diocese of Kilmacduagh in the county of Galway, but declined in power until they were forced out of their original territory by the mid-13th century. The most important branch of the family settled in Counties Derry and Donegal and became prominent historians and poets. The branch that settled in County Cavan has seemingly all but vanished. However, the English surname Clarke has been widely substituted for O'Clery there, following the Plantation of Ulster, and many Irish Clarkes may actually be O'Clerys, rather than descendants of English settlers. Another branch is still fairly common in the counties of Kilkenny, Waterford, and Tipperary. The name is presently found mostly in Munster and Dublin.

Early History of the Clarey family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clarey research. Another 96 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1636, 1450, 1507, 1507, 1781 and 1860 are included under the topic Early Clarey History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Clarey Spelling Variations

During the Middle Ages exact spellings for people's name did not exist. It was up to the literate scribe that was recording a person's name to decide how to spell his name. Names, therefore, often had many spelling variations. The variations of the name Clarey include: Clery, Cleary, Claree, Clarey, Cleare, Clearey, Clerey, O'Cleary, O'Clery, Macchlery, Clerkin, Clark and many more.

Early Notables of the Clarey family (pre 1700)

Another 42 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Clarey Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Clarey migration to the United States +

Under the rule of England, land ownership in Ireland changed dramatically, and many native Irish families found themselves renting out land to farm from absentee owners. This was one of the prime reasons that immigration to North America began in the late 18th century: Irish farmers dreamed of owning their own parcel of land to work for themselves. At this point, the immigrants were at least of modest means for the passage across the Atlantic was often quite dear. In the 1840s the Great Potato Famine created an exodus of people of quite different means. These people were most often destitute: they either sold anything they had to gain a passage or they were sponsored by philanthropic societies. Many of these immigrants were sick from disease and starvation: as a result many did not survive the long transatlantic journey. Although those settlers that did survive were often despised and discriminated against by people already established in these nations, they were critical to rapid development of the powerful industrial nations of the United States and the country that would later become known as Canada. An examination of immigration and passenger lists shows many persons bearing the name of Clarey or one of its variants:

Clarey Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Patrick Clarey, who arrived in Maryland in 1676 [2]
Clarey Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Henry Clarey, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1763 [2]
Clarey Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Clarey, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811 [2]
  • William Clarey, who landed in New York in 1812 [2]
  • William Clarey, aged 24, who arrived in New York in 1864 [2]

Canada Clarey migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Clarey Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Lawrence Clarey, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1834

Australia Clarey migration to Australia +

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

Clarey Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

Contemporary Notables of the name Clarey (post 1700) +

  • Cynthia Clarey (b. 1949), American operatic singer who has sung both soprano and mezzo-soprano roles
  • Admiral Bernard Ambrose "Chick" Clarey (1912-1996), American submarine commander during World War II, three times awarded the Navy Cross

  1. MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  2. 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)
  3. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 2nd December 2020). Retrieved from on Facebook