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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, German


Cleek is a name whose history is connected to the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the Cleek family once lived in the region of Clegg in Rochdale in the county of Lancashire. In some cases, this name was derived from the Gaelic MacLiagh, meaning "son of the physician." One source claims that the name was "Old Norse, kleggi, a compact mass. There was a Northman with this surname in the Landnamabok." [1]

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The surname Cleek was first found in Lancashire where "almost all our Cleggs hail from Clegg, or Clegg Hall, in the parish of Rochdale." [2] "Clegg was the name of a very ancient family of Clegg Hall near Rochdale; but the estate passed out of the family by marriage in the reign of Edward VI. The name is common in the Rochdale registers of the 16th century, and it is still in the town." [3] Early rolls revealed: Nicholas de Clegg and Mathew de Clegg in Lancashire in 1360. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 list: Ricardus de Cleghe and Henricus de Cloghe. Much later, the Wills of Chester list Thomas Clegg as a tanner in Middleton, Lancashire in 1581 and the same listing included Arthur Clegg, of Fieldhouse in the parish of Rochdale in 1608. [2]

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Cleek family name include Clegg, Clegge, Cleg, Claig, Claigg, Claige, Cleig, Cleigg, Clegges, Clegs, Cllege, Cleagg, Cleagge and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cleek research. Another 185 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1679, 1755 and are included under the topic Early Cleek History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 23 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cleek Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Cleek family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 169 words (12 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, Canada, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Cleek surname or a spelling variation of the name include:

Cleek Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Michael, Mathias, and Jacob Cleek, who came to America in 1732 (their brother Baltas Cleek died on route)

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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Qui potest capere capiat
Motto Translation: Let him take who can take.

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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.

Other References

  1. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  2. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  4. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  5. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  6. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  8. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  11. ...

The Cleek Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Cleek Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 19 April 2016 at 09:18.

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