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The explanation given for the use of this nickname is that clerks (pronounced "clarks" in British English) in the City of London used to wear Nobby hats, a type of bowler hat. Alternative spellings include "Knobby" and "Clarke".
An alternative explanation for the name Nobby attached to the surname Clarke is thus: 16th century monks wrote letters for the illiterate. These monks were referred to as "Clerks". The outcome of so much writing causes calluses on the fingers "nobs" and therefore "Nobby Clerks" was born.
In England the term "nob" is used to refer to a member of the aristocracy and by extension a posh person. A clerk would deal with the common people but would be better educated, better paid and in a position of relative power. To the uneducated, clerks were posh and therefore considered to be "nobs". Hence, nobby Clark. Clerks were also required to maintain a high standard of dress, and were paid a clothing allowance. The result was that they always appeared smart. Both the Oxford English and the English Dialect Dictionaries list nobby as being of a rich man, a nob or toff, or “smart”, and gives it a wide distribution, so smart persons were "nobby".
Nobby Clark is also cockney rhyming slang for a shark.
Soldiers of the Canadian Forces seem to have picked up this nickname as well during the 20th century.
- Nobby Clark (disambiguation)
- Gordon "Nobby" Clark (born 1950), former singer of the Scottish band Bay City Rollers
- Neil Clarke (Australian footballer) (1957-2003)
- William Clarke (cryptographer) (1883–1961), British intelligence officer and cryptographer of naval codes in both World Wars
- Nobby Hunt (1903-1983), English cricketer
- Nobby Lawton (1940-2006), English footballer
- George Christopher Nash (born 1989), English rower
- Brian Noble (rugby league) (born 1961), English rugby league coach and former player
- Nolberto Solano (born 1974), Peruvian retired footballer
- Nobby Stiles (born 1942), English retired footballer
- Norbert Tiemann (1924-2012), American politician and 32nd Governor of Nebraska
- Nobby Wirkowski (born 1926), American football player
- Nobby Nobbs, Discworld character
- the player character in the 1993 video game Nobby the Aardvark
- Nobby the Enchanted Bobby, title character of the comic strip of the same name in The Beano (1952-1954) - see List of Beano comic strips
- Nobby, title character of the strip of the same name in the comics Buzz and later The Topper