This surname of NORCLYFFE was of the locational group of surnames literally meaning the dweller by the north cliff. The earliest instance of the name appears to be Henry de Northclyf, who was documented in the year 1307 in Wakefield, Yorkshire. The names of habitation, which are the largest group, usually denoted where the original bearer of the name held and perhaps owned his land. These local surnames derive (with a few occasional exceptions) from English, Scottish or French places, and were originally preceded by a preposition such as 'atte' or 'bye'. The earliest local surnames of French origin are chiefly from Normandy, particularly from the departments of Calvados, Eure, Seine-Inferieure and La Manche, although some Frenchmen, arriving in England early acquired surnames from English places. Local names may derive from the manor held, the place of residence, and occasionally from a sign like an Inn or Tavern, or a particularly unusual shape of rock, hill, tree, stream or river. Other records of the name include John de Norclif, who appears in 1327 in County Surrey, and Adam Nortcliffe of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The name has variant spellings which include Northcliffe, Nortcliffe, Norcliffe and Norclyffe.
A notable member of the name was Alfred Charles William, 1st Viscount Northcliffe, the Irish journalist and newspaper magnate, born in Chapelizod, County Down in 1865. He was one of the pioneers of mass circulation journalism. He founded 'Comic Cuts' (1890). He later published a number of Sunday Magazine papers, and in 1896 revolutionized Fleet Street with his 'Daily Mail'. In 1908, after secret negotiations, he became proprietor of 'The Times', and took a gamble by lowering its price to one penny in 1914, to restore its sagging circulation and he made its editorial policy a vehicle for his political ambitions. He died in 1922.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Langton Hall, County York. (Norcliffe).
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