Cleese History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The vast movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066 brought the Cleese family name to the British Isles. They lived in Lincolnshire, where they held a family seat at Claye.
Early Origins of the Cleese family
The surname Cleese was first found in Lincolnshire where the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list William del Cley and Robert del Clay as holding lands there at that time. The same rolls also listed Alicia in le Clay, Huntingdonshire. 
Later, in Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Agnes del Clay; Johannes del Clay; and Adam del Clay, Howdenshire. 
"Clay has long been a Notts surname. It was represented in the parish of Hayton in the time of Henry VII. Hercules Clay was a mayor of Newark in the reign of Charles I. (S.), and Clay is still a Newark name. The Clays of Southwell during last century carried their pedigree back 200 years, and their name is yet in the town. Six centuries ago Clay was a common name in the east of England, especially in Essex, Lincolnshire, Hunts, Cambridgeshire, and Beds. It is still well established in Lincolnshire, as well as in Notts and Derbyshire." 
Early History of the Cleese family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cleese research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1457 and 1537 are included under the topic Early Cleese History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Cleese Spelling Variations
Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Clay, Claye, Cley, Cleye, McClay and others.
Early Notables of the Cleese family (pre 1700)
Another 34 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cleese Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Cleese family to Ireland
Some of the Cleese family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Cleese family
For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Cleese or a variant listed above were: Jonathon Clay who settled in Virginia in 1643; Jonas Clay settled in Wells and Cape Porpus in 1636; Steven Clay settled in Barbados with wife child and servants in 1680.
Contemporary Notables of the name Cleese (post 1700) +
- John Marwood Cleese (b. 1939), Award winning English comedian and actor, best known as one of the founding members of Monty Python
Related Stories +
The Cleese Motto +
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: Per orbem
Motto Translation: Through the world.
- ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
- ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.