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About the Clarkson surname

Clarkson is an early medieval English language surname that has both occupational and patronymic roots. The prefix "Clark" is associated with a scribe, secretary or member of a minor religious order. It is derived from the Old English clerec or clerc ("priest"), and these derived from the Latin clericus. The suffix, "son", denotes "child/descendent of". Earliest records of the surname appear after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Other patronymic variant of Clark include Clarson and Clarkstone.[1] In Chapter VII, Danish Comparisons of his book Yorkshire folk-talk written in 1892 by the Rev. M.C.F. Morris BCL, MA, the learned author observed: “To anyone who is acquainted with the folk-speech of East Yorkshire a visit to Denmark cannot but be deeply interesting. Everyone knows that the languages of the two peoples have much in common; nay, it is not too much to say that the backbone of the Yorkshire dialect is Danish pure and simple. This has been from time to time brought out and exemplified by others who have written upon the subject. When one hears Danish spoken in some of the country districts, the likeness is in some respects still more striking than it appears when written, …” The Viking incursions began with the raid of Lindisfarne monastery in the year 793. In 866 Danish Vikings established The Norse Kingdom of York and made the city flourish to become the most important town outside of London. The Danes conquered the rest of England in 1013: King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark establishing the Danish dynasty in England. In 1028 King Knut (Canute), King of England and Denmark, conquered Norway. The Battle of Hastings was in 1066 resulting in William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, conquering England and beginning a three century Norman occupation of England, Wales, Scotland, and later Ireland. Some research suggests that the name Clarkson [of which Clarson, Claxton, Clarkstone are but derivatives] comes from attempts to record an old Norn or Norse word for Stone Mason's Son = a Clach being a stone or hearth and Clachair being a Stone Mason. The Clachair's son becoming Clachairsson, Clachairson, Clarkson, Clarkston and Claxton. After the Norman conquest in 1066, the Domesday Book was compiled, essentially to enable the collection in England of a poll tax. However, the peoples of Yorkshire had to await the compilation of the Doomsday Book II before they and their holdings were first recorded. The compilation of the Doomsday Books required the population to be categorized by surname and first name. Formerly people, particularly those of Viking or Celtic origin, were known simply by their first name with perhaps a trade description or geographic location added to distinguish them from others with similar names. Those speaking and compiling records in Norman French, asking one Allan, the Clachair’s son, for his name and occupation are likely to have recorded, from his answer in the Yorkshire dialect, “Alan le Clerkissone” as was the first recorded spelling of the family name which was dated 1306, in the "Feet of Fines of Suffolk", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272-1307. As the English language developed as a concatenation of the languages and dialects of the Angles, Saxons, Celts and Vikings, later attempts to anglicize earlier assignments of the surname gave rise to Clark, Clarke, and the name Clarkson [and Clarson, Claxton, Clarkstone]. The name Clarkson appears to have originated in Yorkshire and from there spread to Scotland and in time throughout the United Kingdom and the World. Clan Cameron claims Clark, Clarke and Clarkson as numbering amongst its Septs. However, shows that the surname is still predominately clustered in England in West Yorkshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire, Merseyside, Hampshire and Kent. In Preston in England where Cromwell routed the army of the Scots and many of Scottish extraction remain the name Clarkson is pronounced "Clackson" with a distinctive "ack" tongue click like in "ack-ack". This appears to result from the traditional pronunciation of "Clach" as "Clack", just as "Loch" is pronounced "Lock". Incidentally, the base word Clach is found as a "loan word" from the old Norn or Norse in the Scots Gaelic, but not in the Irish, Cornish or Briton Celtic languages wherein persist the old Celtic base words for Stone, Stonemason, hearth and the like. There are early instances in Canada of a Scots immigrant family named Macillwraith described by occupation as "Clachairs" and one instance of the progeny described as "the Clachair's son". No coincidence that the New York barge canal [like a lot of other stone-works, World wide] was constructed by the Clachairs and their sons, the Clachairssons who populated the areas around where they worked. Those who continue to assert that the name "Clarkson" comes from the base "Clerk" as being the Cleric's son mistake the pronunciation in England of the word "Clerk", which although in the South-West is pronounced "Clark", it is in the North-east still pronounced "Clerk" [or "Clurk"] as in the US and Canada. In the North East of England there are many Clarksons, but few Clerksons and Clarkson is never pronounced Clerkson, but often Claxson. While Stonemasons historically belonged to a blood guild where the skills and the trade were only passed from Father to Son, the terms Clach, Clachair and Clachairsson were in time applied to what would now be described as Builder's labourers or to anyone who habitually worked in building or construction. Yorkshire folk-talk written in 1892 by the Rev. M.C.F. Morris BCL, MA, tends to indicate that those in the North East of England were until recently [and some say - even now] speaking a language that is essentially old Norn or Norse, closer to Danish than English, perhaps betraying the origins of the inhabitants of the Norse Kingdom of York. Mark A Clarkson LL B. 12 January 2011