Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Clay Name
Origins of Name:
The surname of Clay is of an Anglo-Saxon origin with more than one possible source. The first source for the surname of Clay is that the surname may be topographical, or locational to name someone who lived in an area where there was clay soil. This source derived from the Old English pre 7th Century “claeg” which translated to mean “clay.” These types of surnames are among the oldest and the earliest ones created, because they were used to distinguish people in the small communities that sprung up in the Middle Ages. It is also possible that this surname was derived from a nickname for someone who worked in a clay pit, or someone who worked with clay, such as a potter, or someone who built things with wattle and daub. Occupational surnames were created to denote the actual occupation of the original name bearer, and became hereditary as surnames became mandatory due to the Poll Taxes that were enacted in various countries.
More common variations are:
Clayo, Cleay, Claaey, Cloay, Colay, Calay, Claya, Claey, Claay, Culaay, Cllaay, Culay, Claye, Cllay
The first recorded spelling of the surname of Clay was dated for the year 1172, and appeared in the Pipe Rolls of Suffolk. One Ralph de Clai was recorded and mentioned in these rolls, which were decreed and ordered under the reign of King Henry II, who was known throughout history, and commonly referred to as “The Builder of Churches” and ruled from the year 1154 to the year 1189. Other mentions of the surname of Clay appeared in other survey documents and church registers throughout history. One Reginald de Claie is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Essex in the year 1200, while Nicholas de Clay is listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire in the year 1302. Those who bear the surname of Clay are found in the northeast regions of England, and can be most commonly found in high concentrations in the counties of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, and the County Derbyshire.
In Scotland, the surname of Clay is not a popular surname, and can only be found in small pockets throughout the entire country. These small families who bear the surname of Clay include Midlothian County.
The Clay name first arrived in Australia s convicts. In the 1820s two Clays were sent to Australia from Nottingham. In 1835, William Clay from Warwick was sent to work in Hunter Valley.
United States of America:
Throughout the 17th Century, a period of time known as the European Migration began throughout Europe, though mostly centered in England. This migration was when the settlers determined that they no longer were happy with their homeland, and sought out a new place to live, one promising new freedoms and capabilities that were not afforded to them in the land of their birth. The United States of America, which at that time was called The New World or The Colonies, promised these freedoms to new settlers, and thus was a popular destination during this time for those settlers. The first person who was recorded to bear the surname of Clay and to set foot on American soil was one Anne Clay, who arrived in the state of Virginia in the year 1623. In the United States of America, the surname of Clay is very common. Those who bear this surname are often found in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio, and the state of Pennsylvania.
United States 52, 433
South Africa 968
Otis Clay (1942-2016) who was an American Rhythm and Blues, and soul singer who was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in the year 2013
Miss Elizabeth Alice Clay (died in 1915) who was a Second Class Passenger from San Francisco, California, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking, her remains were recovered and identified
Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. (1912-1990) who was an American painter and musician, who was the father of professional boxer and champion Muhammad Ali
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (born in 1942) who was an American World Heavyweight Champion who would win the title three times, named “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated in the year 1999, and legally changed his name to Muhammad Ali
Kenneth Earl Clay (born in 1954) who was a former Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher
Clement Comer Clay (1789-1866) who was an American politician, and was the 8th Governor of the U.S. State of Alabama from the years 1835 – 1837
Clay Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Clay blazon are the lion passant, wolf, escallop and trefoil. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, sable and argent .
The deep green colour that is so often observed in heraldry is more properly known as vert. According to Wade, the use of this colour signifies “Hope and Joy”, but may also represent, rather delightfully, “Loyalty in Love” . It has other names also, the French call it sinople, perhaps after a town in Asia Minor from where the best green die materials could be found . More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald . More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!
Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur . In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known . Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy .
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) . In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper .
There can be no animal more clearly associated with Heraldry than the lion, majestic King of the Beasts. Originally it appeared only in one pose, erect, on one paw, with the others raised but such was the popularity of this figure, and the need to distinguish arms from each other, that it soon came to be shown in an enormous range of forms . The lion passant is an example of these modified form, showing the creature on all fours, as if walking proudly. In common with all reprensentations of the lion it can be taken to be an “emblem of deathless courage”.
The wolf was the symbol of Rome long before the advent of heraldry, and before that was sacred to the ancient Egyptians. In heraldry it is probably more often just as head than the whole animal, but when whole it can be in many different poses. It is found from the earliest instances of arms, but quite often due to a derivative of its French name, loup sharing the initial sound of many family names like LOWE and LOVATT.
The escallopoccurs often in arms, represented as the outside of the shell, sometimes “fluted” of a different colour . It has been part of heraldic tradition almost from the beginning of the art, Henry III of England awarded Gules, 3 escallopes argent to Herbert de CHAMBERLEYNE in the 13th century, and it is present in the heraldry of almost all countries . It is believed that they were adopted as badges of those going to the Holy Land and can be found in the arms of many a crusading family. Hence Wade’s suggested association of the scallop with those that “complete long journeys to far countries” .