Humanities › History & Culture CLARK - Name Meaning and Origin Share Flipboard Email Print Getty / Jeremy Woodhouse History & Culture Genealogy Surnames Basics Genealogy Fun Vital Records Around the World American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Kimberly Powell Genealogy Expert Certificate in Genealogical Research, Boston University B.A., Carnegie Mellon University Kimberly Powell is a professional genealogist and the author of The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy. She teaches at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. our editorial process Kimberly Powell Updated February 06, 2019 The Clark surname is an occupational name for cleric, clerk, or scholar - one who can read and write, from the Old English cler(e)c, meaning "priest." Also from the Gaelic Mac a' Chlerich/Cleireach"; son of the cleric or, sometimes, clerk. During the Middle Ages, the common pronunciation of -er was -ar, so the man who sold items was the "marchant," and the man who kept the books was the "clark." At the time, the primary members of the literate class were the clergy, which in minor orders were allowed to marry and have families. The term clerk (clark) eventually came to designate any literate man. The Cleary / O'Clery surname, one of the oldest surnames in Ireland, is often anglicized to Clarke or Clark. Clark is the 25th most popular surname in the United States and the 34th most common in England. Clarke, with an "e," is actually more common in England - coming in as the 23rd most popular surname. It is also a very common name in Scotland (14th) and Ireland. Surname Origin English, Irish Alternate Surname Spellings CLARKE, CLERK, CLERKE Famous People With the Surname CLARK William Clark - one half of the legendary Lewis & Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean, along with Meriwether Lewis.Guy Clark - American singer/songwriterArthur C. Clarke - British science fiction writer, best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey Genealogy Resources for the Surname CLARK 100 Most Common U.S. Surnames & Their MeaningsSmith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown... Are you one of the millions of Americans sporting one of these top 100 common last names from the 2000 census? Clark(e) Surname DNA ProjectThis project was started to determine if the early Clark families in Virginia were of the same family, and/or if they were connected to explorer William Clark. The project has now expanded to include a broader scope of Clark families around the world. Clark Family Genealogy ForumSearch this popular genealogy forum for the Clark surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Clark query. There is also a separate forum for the CLARKE variation of the Clark surname. FamilySearch - CLARK GenealogyFind records, queries, and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Clark surname and its variations. DistantCousin.com - CLARK Genealogy & Family HistoryFree databases and genealogy links for the last name Clark. ----------------------- References: Surname Meanings & Origins Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967. Menk, Lars. A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames. Avotaynu, 2005. Beider, Alexander. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. Avotaynu, 2004. Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989. Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003. Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.