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


rocky clitter outcrops


Ever wonder about the meaning and history of an unusual surname? The Clitter family did after release of the 1938 movie "The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse" (additional information is provided in the Histories section of Collections on this website). While the reason for the film's title is unknown, we do know that 'clitter' is also used as a descriptive and proper noun, especially in England. There is a manor in greater London that became the Clitterhouse Farm farm in 1584, owned by St. Bartholomew's Hospital until 1921 ( Today, "Clitterhouse" is the name of a recreation ground and is listed by Wikipedia as being located in Brent Cross in the London Borough of Barnet, England (

Published histories of the Clitterhouse Farm say that the Clitter part of Clitterhouse originates in the word 'clay', but other research shows that 'clitter' is also an old Celtic word of the Brythonic language ( that means 'craggy' and specifically refers to the granite-littered debris fields around tor rock outcrops and hills ( It is therefore understandable and not surprising that a village of Clitters exists in Cornwall county in England, a major area that includes the tor debris fields.


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