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Clarke is a surname which means "clerk". The surname is of English and Irish origin and comes from Latin clericus. Variants include Clerk[1] and Clark. Clarke is also uncommonly chosen as a given name.

Irish surname origin[edit]

Clarke is a popular surname in Ireland. The Irish version of the surname is believed to have come from County Galway and County Antrim and spread to County Donegal and County Dublin. The name is derived from the Irish Gaelic sept Ó Cléirigh, meaning "clerk".[2]

English surname origin[edit]

Clarke as well as Clark is also a widespread surname in England. The English version is of Anglo-Saxon origin and was used in the Middle Ages for the name of a scribe or secretary. The word "clerc", which came from the pre 7th century Olde English "Cler(e)c" (meaning priest), originally denoted a member of a religious order but later became widespread. In the Middle Ages, virtually the only people who could read and write were members of religious orders, linking the word with literacy. Thus the surname became a popular term for a literate man, particularly for the professional secretary and the scholar.[3] The English surnames "Clarke" and "Clark" are both spelling variations of the surname "Clerk".

'Nobby' is the nickname most commonly used in English for those with the surname Clark or Clarke.[citation needed]

People with the surname[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]


  1. ^ "Last name: Clerk". Surname Database. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Clarke coat of arms, family crest and family history". Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  3. ^ "Last name: Clarke". Internet Surname Database. Retrieved 19 September 2013.