The surname of CLEVEN was derived from the Old English word CLEOFAN which was an occupational name 'one who split board with wedges instead of sawing, a maker of lattice fencing'. In Ireland the name is in Gaelic O'CLAIMHIM, a sept of Leix and Offally. The name is sometimes anglicized as Swords. Many modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identity individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. Early records of the name mention Simon le Claver, 1273, County Northumberland. Agnes le Claver was documented in the County of Yorkshire in the year 1332. Richard le Clevar was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Edward Cleaver and Sarah Dow were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1790. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. The name is also spelt CLEVENGER. A notable member of this name was the American Sculptor, Shobal Vail CLEVENGER, (1812-1843) who was born in Middletown, Ohio. His equally famous son, who was born in Florence, where his father was studying, became a renowned psychiatrist and pathologist.
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