Though not Gaelic in origin, this surname CLENCH was derived from the old English word CLENC meaning a lump or low hill, and was formerly spelt CLENCHE. Families of this name have been located in Ireland since l305 when a John Clench appeared in a law case in Dublin. About this time they were established in Ormond but they did not remain there since the name does not appear in records for that area until l603. In the Leinster counties nearer to Dublin however, they are the subject of frequent notice in all kinds of records from l3th century onwards. In social standing they range from leading gentry to small tenants and in religious affairs from catholic martyrs to subservient Reformation clergy. Ireland is one of the earliest sources of the development of patronymic names in northern Europe. Irish Clan or bynames can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. and Mac (son of) and O (grandson or ancestor of) evolved from this base, the original literal meaning of which has been lost due to the absence of written records and linguistic ambivalences which subtly but inexorably became adopted through usage. Genealogists and lexographers accept that the patronymic base does not refer to a location, quite the contrary. The use of the prefix 'Bally' (town of) attaching to the base name, identifying the location. The base root was also adopted by people residing in the demographic area without a common ancestor. These groups called 'Septs' were specially prevalent in Ireland. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots. Four of the name were outlawed as Jacobites, one was the Dean of St. Patricks in l743 and another was a member of the United Irishmen in l793. The most distinguished individual of the name was James Bernard Clinch (l770-l834) of Maynooth College, Catholic pamphleteer as well as a classical and Gaelic scholar.
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