- This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a regional name from a district in North Yorkshire around Middlebrough. The derivation of Cleveland, which first appears circa 1110 in the Yorkshire Charters as "Clivelanda", is from the Old English pre 7th Century "clif", cliff or hill, with "land", land, thus a hilly district. During the Middle Ages, when it became more usual for people to migrate from their birthplace, they would often adopt the placename as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. In the case of regional names they tended to be acquired when someone travelled a considerable distance from his original home, where a specific locational name would be meaningless to his new neighbours. Among the early sample recordings in Yorkshire are the christenings of Xtiane Cleveland on may 16th 1574, at Filey, and of Ann Cleveland on August 10th 1599, at Normanton. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Cleveland, which was dated April 20th 1572, Filey, Yorkshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.
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