Show ContentsCleaver History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The saga of the name Cleaver follows a line reaching back through history to the days of the Anglo-Saxon tribes in Britain. It was a name for someone who worked as a person who worked with wood. The surname is derived from the Old English word cleofan which means to cleave or split. [1] [2] The variant Clevenger was derived from the occupation "as one who cleaves wood."

Two sources postulate that the name could also have originated from "a dweller on a cleave or cliff." [3] [1]

Early Origins of the Cleaver family

The surname Cleaver was first found in Norfolk where Simon le Claver, was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. [4] Later, Agnes le Claver and John le Claver were both listed in Norfolk in 1333 [5] In London, the source Rotuli Litterarum Clausarum in Turri Londinesi lists Henry le Claver and John le Clavier.

In Sussex, Richard and John le Cleuar were listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1332. [1]

Early History of the Cleaver family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cleaver research. Another 162 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1332, 1332, 1379, 1790, 1742, 1815, 1784, 1785, 1787, 1800, 1806, 1746 and 1819 are included under the topic Early Cleaver History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cleaver Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Cleaver were recorded, including Cleever, Cleaver, Clever, Kleever, Kleaver, Cleevar, Cleavar, Cliver, Cleiver, Clivar, Cleevor, Clearvor, Cleevare, Clevenger, Kleevare, Cleavare, Kleavare and many more.

Early Notables of the Cleaver family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: William Cleaver (1742-1815), Bishop of St. Asaph, the eldest son of the Rev. W. Cleaver, master of a private school at Twyford in Buckinghamshire, and was the elder brother of Archbishop Cleaver. Cleaver became tutor to the Marquis of Buckingham. He was successively made vicar of Northop in Flintshire, prebendary of Westminster (1784)...
Another 61 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cleaver Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cleaver Ranking

In the United States, the name Cleaver is the 6,977th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [6]


United States Cleaver migration to the United States +

To escape oppression and starvation at that time, many English families left for the "open frontiers" of the New World with all its perceived opportunities. In droves people migrated to the many British colonies, those in North America in particular, paying high rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Although many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, those who did see the shores of North America perceived great opportunities before them. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the Cleaver family emigrate to North America:

Cleaver Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Phillipp Cleaver, who landed in Virginia in 1637 [7]
  • Tho Cleaver, who arrived in Virginia in 1653 [7]
Cleaver Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Charles Cleaver, who arrived in America in 1744
  • Charles Cleaver, who settled in New England in 1744
  • James Cleaver, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [7]
  • Edward Cleaver, who settled in America in 1759
  • Thomas Cleaver, who settled in Maryland in 1775

Australia Cleaver migration to Australia +

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

Cleaver Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Llewellyn Cleaver, English convict who was convicted in Devizes, Wiltshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Earl Grey" on 4th October 1842, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [8]

New Zealand Cleaver 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:

Cleaver Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Cleaver, aged 27, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1850
  • Mary Cleaver, aged 21, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1850
  • Ann Cleaver, aged 5 mths., who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1850
  • Ann Cleaver, aged 5 months, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1850
  • Charles Cleaver, aged 19, a painter, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Conflict" in 1874

West Indies Cleaver 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. [9]
Cleaver Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Henry Cleaver who settled in Barbados in 1680 with his servants

Contemporary Notables of the name Cleaver (post 1700) +

  • Thornton John "Skip" Cleaver Jr. (1944-2022), American politician, Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives (2016-2022)
  • Gerald Cleaver (b. 1963), American jazz drummer
  • Kathleen Neal Cleaver (b. 1945), American professor of law
  • Emanuel Cleaver II (b. 1944), United Methodist pastor and the U.S. Representative for Missouri
  • William Cleaver (1742-1815), English churchman and academic, Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford
  • Christopher William "Chris" Cleaver (b. 1979), English football midfielder
  • Harry Cleaver (b. 1944), American Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Texas
  • Nicholas Cleaver, Australian freestyle skier who represented Australia in the Winter Olympics, in 1992 and 1994
  • Naomi Cleaver (b. 1967), British design consultant and interior designer
  • Sir Anthony Brian Cleaver (b. 1938), British Chief Executive and Chairman of IBM UK
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Titanic
  • Miss Alice Catherine Cleaver, aged 22, English First Class passenger from London, England who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping in life boat 11 [10]


Suggested Readings for the name Cleaver +

  • A Fair and Happy Land (a Genealogy including the Cleaver Family) by William A. Owens.

  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Rye, Walter, A History of Norfolk. London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, 1885. Print
  6. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th August 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-gray
  9. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  10. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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