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a one-name family study of the surnames of 'Clitter' and 'Cleeter'


Parish register from Earls Colne, Essex, England listing 1621 marriage of George Clitter


A one-name study can be thought of as a compilation of biographical data relating to all persons, past and present, with a particular surname. This collection usually includes spelling variations of the surname. As stated in the Wikipedia discussion of a one-name study (, "In most one-name studies, a united lineage will not be discovered, but a broad perspective can be achieved, giving clues to name origin, distributions and migrations. Many researchers are motivated to go beyond the one-name-study stage and to compile fully researched, single-family histories of some of the families they discover."  The Guild of One-Name Studies (, established in the U.K. in 1979, is the leading such organization and provides membership guides for starting a one-name study.

This Clitter one-name study started upon discovering the results of an historical project (, published on the internet, about a small English village, Earls Colne, in the county of Essex, England. The Earls Colne database was constructed at the University of Cambridge between 1972 and 2002 and contains a large part of the surviving records of the parish over the period 1380-1854. Included among the surnames are forty-three Clitters plus spouses dating from the 1500s. The Clitter lineage that lasts for sixteen generations started with George who married in Earls Colne in 1621.

Initial study research also found a Cleeter surname lineage starting with Christopher Cleeter, according to several internet sources. Later research indicates that this descendant line begins with Robert and/or Christopher Clitter, born in the late 1400s, and living in the Swindon area of northeast Wiltshire County. Here the spelling of the Clitter surname was changed to Cleeter in the mid 1500s.

Only one lineage exists with a Clitter surname spelling, but the English Cleeter lineage began spelled as Clitter. In the U.S. there are also both unrelated Clitters listed in U.S and U.K. genealogical records with sources that either misinterpreted, misread, or misspelled the as 'Clitter'.


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