Clear History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Clear 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 Clear family

The surname Clear 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 Clear family

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

Clear 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 Clear include: Clery, Cleary, Claree, Clarey, Cleare, Clearey, Clerey, O'Cleary, O'Clery, Macchlery, Clerkin, Clark and many more.

Early Notables of the Clear family (pre 1700)

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


United States Clear 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 Clear or one of its variants:

Clear Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Joseph Clear, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 [2]
  • Samuel Clear, who arrived in Georgia in 1742 [2]
  • Frederick Clear, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1796 [2]
Clear Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mary Clear, who landed in New York, NY in 1816 [2]
  • Sarah, Clear Jr., aged 2, who landed in Key West, Fla in 1837 [2]
  • John Clear, who arrived in Texas in 1845 with his wife and two children
  • James Clear, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1852 [2]
  • Patrick Clear, who arrived in Illinois in 1856-1864 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Clear migration to Australia +

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

Clear Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Henry Clear, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Anglia" in 1851 [3]
  • Ann Clear, aged 18, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "William Hammond" [4]

New Zealand Clear 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:

Clear Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Owen Clear, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Beauty" in 1863


  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. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ANGLIA 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Anglia.gif
  4. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 20th January 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Willaim Hammond 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/williamhammond1854.shtml.


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