THE PHOTO...The photo is one of George and Eliza Clitter
THE KNOWN...The Clitter surname is thought to be derived from an old Celtic word that means 'craggy' and
specifically refers the the granite littered debris fields around many tor rock outcrops formed by
weathering. There are many mentions of the clitter stones and masses in the geological descriptions of
the moorland and hilly areas in the English counties Cornwall and Devon and the coastline tors in the
southern part of Glamorgan, Wales. The name is still in use today as a proper noun in England, and in
the name, Clitterhouse, which starting at least in the 14th century has been used as the name of a farm,
hospital and today as a school (and in the movie title "The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse.")
A one-name study is being conducted on this surname. Such a study can be thought of as a compilation
of biographical data relating to all persons, past and present, with a particular surname, and the
collection usually includes spelling variations of the basic name. The earliest record discovered to date
of an individual Clitter is in Greater London, about the middle of the 16th century. The known Clitter
descendancy started about 1600 in Earls Colne, England.
Earls Colne is a small village in Essex county, considered to be typical of many such villages. A study
of the existing Earls Colne historical records has been conducted and is published on the internet
(Click here for Earls Colne website). The database was constructed by a team at the University
of Cambridge between 1972 and 2002 and contains a large part of the surviving records of the parish
over the period 1380-1854. Included among the surnames are forty-three Clitters plus spouses dating
from early 1600.
The sixteen generations of Clitter descendancy started with George and Elizabeth, married in 1621,
with a total of seven generations in Essex. One male of the sixth generation, and three males and one
female of the seventh generation migrated to London. Additional distribution of the Clitter surname is
found among the counties of Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Wiltshire.
The only Clitter known to have migrated from the U.K. to the U.S. is George Henry Clitter who arrived
at Ellis Island with his wife and four children on June 20, 1887 aboard the S.S. Richmond Hill.
AND THE UNKNOWN...It is fairly certain that the Clitter descendancy information is accurate: there have been relatively few
people with the Clitter surname throughout history, seven generations lived in one village whose
records are available on the internet, and a lot of the recent family history has been passed down.
However, there is still a lot that could be accomplished - as there is in most genealogical research. For
Can the family tree be positively confirmed and any errors identified? Could there be a common
ancestor with another individual or group? Where is the point of origen for the Clitter surname? What is
the ancestral homeland? Is there a verifiable relationship with any family from other English counties
where non-descendant Clitters are known to have lived - especially Norfolk, abutting Essex on the
north. Where was the 'first' George, married in 1621, born? Could a genetic match be found?
While most of this cannot be determined with paper records, it could be using DNA as a research tool.
What was the reason for the Clitters coming to the U.S.?
Why did Henry settle in Englewood? Did he know someone who previously came from England?