Clift History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Clift family

The surname Clift was 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]

Henry de Cliff (d. 1334), the English judge, "is first mentioned as accompanying the king abroad in May 1313; and on 11 May 1317, as a master in chancery, he had charge of the great seal at the house of the Lord Chancellor, John de Sandale, Bishop of Winchester. There is another master in chancery in Edward II's reign of the same name, probably a brother. " [2]

Early History of the Clift family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clift research. Another 138 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1725, 1774, 1767, 1558, 1514, 1522, 1523, 1522, 1529, 1526 and 1532 are included under the topic Early Clift History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Clift Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Clift family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was William Clyffe (d. 1558), English divine, educated at Cambridge, where he graduated LL.B. in 1514, was admitted advocate at Doctors' Commons on 16 Dec. 1522, graduated LL.D...
Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Clift Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Clift migration to the United States +

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 [3]
  • Ben Clift, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1683 [3]
Clift Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • lames Clift, who arrived in Virginia in 1718 [3]
  • Wombwell Clift, who landed in Virginia in 1737 [3]
Clift Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Charles Clift, aged 21, who landed in New York, NY in 1855 [3]
  • 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
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Clift migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Clift Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Liesa Clift, aged 34, who arrived in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1910
  • Thomas B. Clift, aged 41, who arrived in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1910
  • Cecil Clift, aged 20, who arrived in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1912
  • Elizabeth Clift, aged 35, who arrived in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1912
  • J. Augustus Clift, aged 53, who arrived in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1912
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Clift migration to Australia +

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

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, Australia [4]
  • William Clift, aged 20, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Reliance" [5]
  • Mr. James Clift, (b. 1825), aged 28, Cornish labourer travelling aboard the ship "Parsee" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 11th January 1853 [6]
  • Mrs. Anne Clift, (b. 1820), aged 33, Cornish settler, from Truro, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Parsee" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 11th January 1853 [6]
  • Mr. William H. Clift, (b. 1847), aged 6, Cornish settler, from Truro, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Parsee" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 11th January 1853 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Clift 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:

Clift Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Clift, aged 26, a carpenter, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Howrah" in 1874

Contemporary Notables of the name Clift (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Wales Clift (1837-1908), American politician, U.S. Representative from Georgia
  • David Horace Clift (1907-1972), American librarian and former chief executive of the American Library Association (ALA) from 1951 to 1972
  • Jack Clift (b. 1955), American composer and music producer
  • Wallace Bruce Clift Jr. (b. 1926), American author on the field of psychology of religion
  • Denison Clift (1885-1961), American screenwriter and film director
  • Eleanor Clift (b. 1940), American political reporter, television pundit and author
  • Harlond Benton "Darkie" Clift (1912-1992), American Major League Baseball third baseman who played from 1934 to 1945
  • Edward Montgomery "Monty" Clift (1920-1966), American four-time Academy Award nominated film and stage actor
  • William Clift (1775-1849), British naturalist from Cornwall, born at Burcombe, about half a mile from the town of Bodmin on 14 Feb. 1775 [7]
  • Patrick Bernard "Paddy" Clift (1953-1996), Zimbabwean first class cricketer
  • ... (Another 8 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Maurice W M Clift, British Electrical Artificer 3rd Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [8]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Horance Clift, American 3rd Class passenger from Chicago, Illinois, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [9]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Ray Emerson Clift, American Coxswain from Missouri, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [10]


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


  1. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1822
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RELIANCE 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Reliance.htm
  6. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_1850_59.pdf
  7. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020
  8. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  9. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  10. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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