The name of CLARKE was originally derived from the Latin Clericus - a man in a religious order, a cleric. All writing and secretarial work was done by the clergy in the middle ages, and the term came to mean a penman or scholar. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. The name was taken early to Ireland by settlers where it usually stands as O' Clery. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Early records of the name mention Richerius Clericus listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. The earliest name on record in Scotland was Roger Clericus, who held land in Kelso in the year 1174. Reginald Clerc was documented in the year of 1205 in London. John le Clerk, was recorded in the year 1272 in London. Edwin Clarke, of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Clerc possessed a territory in Edinburgh in the year of 1446. John Clerk of Leith (Shipmaster) was granted a safe conduct to travel from Scotland into England in the year 1446. Robert Clarke and Margaret Mayson were married at St. Dionis Backchurch, London in the year 1557. Richard, son of Rumboll Clarke was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1583. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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