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



Analysis of the information provided on the Earls Colne study website gives a lineage from George Clitter, born in the late 1500s, to the family of George Clitter, about 1747, who married Jane Frith in 1766 in Earls Colne, England. Further research shows that four of their seven children, George, Edward, Richard, and Jane, and their young uncle, Edward, all born in Earls Colne between 1767 and 1778, migrated to the East London area as adults. Parish registers in East London hamlets record the marriages of the four children, as well as, Uncle Edward. Two other sisters, Sarah and Mary, who remained in Earls Colne, also married. Several descendant branches continue today. The only Clitter known to have migrated from the U.K. to the United States is George Henry Clitter, the last child of John Thomas, son of George who came to London from Earls Colne. On June 20, 1887 George Henry arrived at Ellis Island aboard the S.S. Richmond Hill with his wife and four children. These Clitters are the only family known to have migrated the the U.S.

The Clitter surname lineage will eventually end both in the U.K. and the U.S. In the meantime, there are continuing branches of descendants in both locations.

The Cleeter Surname Variant

A study of a family's genealogical history is often a never-ending puzzle that can include both hypothetical and deductive reasoning. Conclusions are intended to necessarily follow from certain premises. This is especially true of the Cleeter lineage.

Early in this Clitter one-name study, two Cleeter lineages were found on the internet provided by researchers of both Batchelor, and its variant surnames, and the Spackman surname. The Batchelor line starts with Christopher Cleeter born about 1577 and (also spelled Clytter in some sources) with records from the Broad Hinton, Wiltshire, parish. In theses records three surnames of the six children of Christopher and his wife, Katherine Goddard, are spelled Cleeter, three are spelled Clitter. And that of one grandson, George, is also spelled Clitter.

Additional research finds that a Robert Cleeter, born about 1564 in Purton, Wiltshire, is the apparent founder of a descendant line that parallels that of Christopher, born in 1577. This line had not as of yet been researched.

Still later in this study a reference to both a Robert and Christopher Clitter in the year 1523 was found in an unlikely source: "Letters and Papers of Henry VIII" provided by British History Online. A mention of Uffcote, the 16th century spelling of today's Uffcott within the Broad Hinton parish, is also included in the listing of these documents as the two Clitters are made tax collectors. Also, a published history of Wiltshire mentions that an Uffcott farm was leased by members of the Cleeter family from the about 16th century to the 18th century.

Based on the above discoveries, an understandable conclusion can therefore be made, that the Christopher who began the Cleeter lineage is probably a direct descendant of Christopher Clitter, residing in the Broad Hinton parish area of Uffcott. Likewise, Robert Cleeter of Purton is a descendant of the Robert Clitter, referred to in the Henry VIII letters. While this connection is shown on this website, details of the two generation gap are still to be found.

Clitter or Cleeter? Perhaps the Clitter surname was pronounced locally as Cleeter and was then written as such in this descendancy line. However, this morphing of the Clitter surname took over 100 years since sources show that a George Clitter was born in 1654. Regardless, the Cleeter name is definitely a variant of the surname Clitter, regardless of the pronunciation.

Other variants of the Clitter Surname

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) of baptisms and marriages in England and Wales, compiled by the Genealogical Society of Utah, shows the surnames Clytter, Clittur, Clittar, as spelling variations, and original research uncovered the surnames of Clittor, Cleter, Cletter, Clittens. Also discovered were individuals with the Clitter surname suffixes of -al, -boke, -book, -booke, brooke, -buck, -en, -es, -ie, -oe, -ol, -os, -ow, and the single letter additions of -d, -e, -s, and -y!

However, only the Clitter and Cleeter names provide any descendant lines.

Errant and Nonrelated Clitters and Cleeters

One advantage of researching Clitter as a one-name study is that it is a relatively unusual surname with a narrow descendency line throughout sixteen generations. There are not many people with the real Clitter surname. When researching any genealogical history, the best sources of published records are of course the original documents, such as parish records in the UK. Questions always remain about whether some genealogical records have actual surnames misinterpreted, misread, or misspelled as Clitter.

In the United States, several people with the Clitter surname, other than the descendants of George Henry, have been discovered. Examples: Ebenezer, his wife and four children, living in Shrewsbury, Worcester County, Massachusetts in 1850; Mary G., married 1877 in Washington, Ohio; J.J.and wife Mary in Pennsylvania, 1880; John in Ohio, 1920; and Virginia in New York City. Examination of census records show that some of these individuals and/or families were born in Germany or Poland. This is particularly true of some Cleeters in the U.S. whose father's name on a census is given as Kluetter. No record exists of any English Cleeter migration to the United States.

While the Cleeter surname started in Wiltshire County, the Cleeters migrated to many counties in England, with many descendants alive today. Analysis of the surname events allows a partial reconstruction of some Cleeter family trees.


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