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 example:

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?


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