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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the Welsh Clift family come from? What is the Welsh Clift family crest and coat of arms? When did the Clift family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Clift family history?

The surname Clift is derived from the Old English word "clif," which means cliff, rock, or steep descent. It is thought to have been a name used for someone who lived near a sloping cliff or the bank of a river. As such, the surname Clift belongs to the class of topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees.

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The Welsh have an extremely large amount of spelling variations of their native surnames to their credit. The earliest explanation for the preponderance of spelling variations is that when Welsh surnames were in Welsh and accordingly were difficult to translate into English. It was therefore up to the priest or the scribe taking the official records to determine how the spoken name was to be made literal. As time progressed, the old Brythonic names of Wales were recorded in English, which was especially problematic since the English language had extreme difficulty recording the highly inflected sounds of Cymraeg. Spelling variations were, however, also carried out according to an individual's design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations could be indicated by spelling variations of one's name. The spelling variations of the name Clift have included Cliffe, Cliff, Clive, Cleeves, Cleave, Cleaves and many more.

First found in Shropshire and Cheshire. The latter county "in the hundred of Northwich, is Clive, from whence their ancestor Warin assumed his name in the time of Henry II. About the reign of Edward II the family removed to Huxley, also in Cheshire, Henry de Clive having married the co-heiress. " [1] The Shropshire branch claim descent from the village and civil parish so named. "James Clive with the heiress of Styche, of Styche, they settled in Shropshire at that place, which is in the parish of Moreton-Say, and has remained uninterruptedly in the Clive family." [1] Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, KB MP FRS (1725-1774), was born in the parish at Styche Hall and is buried in the church at Moreton Say.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clift research. Another 275 words(20 lines of text) covering the years 1725, 1774 and 1767 are included under the topic Early Clift History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Clift Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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During the latter half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the people of Wales journeyed to North America to find a new life. They made major contributions to the arts, industry and commerce of both Canada and the United States, and added a rich cultural heritage to their newly adopted societies. A look at the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Clift:

Clift Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Benjamin Clift, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682
  • Ben Clift, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1683

Clift Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • lames Clift, who arrived in Virginia in 1718
  • Wombwell Clift, who landed in Virginia in 1737

Clift Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Charles Clift, aged 21, landed in New York, NY in 1855
  • Agnes Clift, aged 29, who arrived in America, in 1895

Clift Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • Wm. T. Clift, aged 45, who arrived in America from London, in 1900
  • Robert Wallis Clift, aged 21, who arrived in America from Cornwall, England, in 1907
  • James Clift, aged 48, who arrived in America from Doncaster, England, in 1909
  • George H. Clift, aged 25, who arrived in America from Stoney Stanton, England, in 1911
  • Benjamin Bertie Clift, aged 15, who arrived in America from Mousehole, England, in 1912


Clift Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century


  • Liesa Clift, aged 34, who arrived in St. Johns, Newfoundland, in 1910
  • Thomas B. Clift, aged 41, who arrived in St. Johns, Newfoundland, in 1910
  • Cecil Clift, aged 20, who arrived in St. Johns, Newfoundland, in 1912
  • Elizabeth Clift, aged 35, who arrived in St. Johns, Newfoundland, in 1912
  • J. Augustus Clift, aged 53, who arrived in St. Johns, Newfoundland, in 1912


Clift Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Joseph Clift, English convict from Wiltshire, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Austraila
  • William Clift, aged 20, a miner, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Reliance"

Clift Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • John Clift, aged 26, a carpenter, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Howrah" in 1874

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  • Edward Montgomery "Monty" Clift (1920-1966), American four-time Academy Award nominated film and stage actor
  • Harlond Benton "Darkie" Clift (1912-1992), American Major League Baseball third baseman who played from 1934 to 1945
  • Eleanor Clift (b. 1940), American political reporter, television pundit and author
  • Denison Clift (1885-1961), American screenwriter and film director
  • Wallace Bruce Clift Jr. (b. 1926), American author on the field of psychology of religion
  • Jack Clift (b. 1955), American composer and music producer
  • David Horace Clift (1907-1972), American librarian and former chief executive of the American Library Association (ALA) from 1951 to 1972
  • Joseph Wales Clift (1837-1908), American politician, U.S. Representative from Georgia
  • Mr. Horance Clift (d. 1915), American 3rd Class passenger from Chicago, Illinois, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking
  • Brigadier Frederick Alexander Clift (b. 1908), Senior Canadian Officer in Indo- China (1961-1962)

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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: In cruce glorior
Motto Translation: I glory in the cross.

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  1. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.

Other References

  1. Morgan, T. J. Morgan and Prys Morgan. Welsh Surnames. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1985. Print.
  2. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  3. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  4. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  7. Thirsk, Joan ed. Et. Al. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  8. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  9. Davies, R. R. The Age of Conquest: Wales, 1063-1415. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
  10. 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.
  11. ...

The Clift Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Clift 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 22 May 2015 at 16:31.

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