Clarke is an Anglo-Irish surname which means "clerk". The surname is of English and Irish origin but the original word comes from Latin for clericus. There are some surname variants, including the Clerk and the correct spelling Clark which predates Clarke by over 700 years.[1] Clarke is also uncommonly chosen as a given name.

Irish surname origin

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

Clarke as well as Clark is also a widespread surname in England. The English version comes from Anglo-Saxon origin and was used in the Middle Ages for the name of a scribe or secretary. The word "clerc" came from the pre 7th century Olde English "Cler(e)c" (meaning priest) originally denoted to a member of a religious order only, but later grew rapidly outside the religious order. In the Middle Ages virtually the only people who could read and write were members of the religious order, making the word heavily associated 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".

People with the surname

Fictional characters:


  1. ^ "Last name: Clerk". 19 September 2013.  http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Clerk
  2. ^ "Clarke coat of arms, family crest and family history". irishsurnames.com. Retrieved 30 December 2007. 
  3. ^ "Last name: Clarke". Internet Surname Database. Retrieved 19 September 2013.