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  The CLEVELY or CLEVELEY Surname Homepage

This page and the linked pages are provided to co-ordinate, to a small extent, some items and information of interest to persons whose surname is CLEVELY or CLEVELEY.

These pages and links will mainly be of assistance to those who share the surname or have ancestral connections to it.

Obviously, the main attraction to investigating such links is for family history reasons, but the author does not think that it would be appropriate to use this site to try to list the family history of everyone with the surname, unless, of course, their ancestor was of some note.

However, it is intended to provide links FROM this site to other persons with an interest in the surname, or of particular interest. This can simply be by providing an e-mail address, or it can be used to provide a link to a family history site (possibly by using the program GED2HTML.exe).

The name CLEVELY might have a historical connection with KLEVE, also Cleve or Cleves, city, West central Germany, in North Rhine-Westphalia, near the Rhine R. and the Dutch border. It was built in Dutch architectural style on three hills. Leather goods, machinery, and tobacco products are manufactured here. With mineral springs in the vicinity, Kleve is frequented as a summer resort. In the center of the city is the famous Schwanenburg, or Swans' Castle, said to have been founded by Gaius Julius Caesar and associated with the "Knights of the Swan" legend, dramatized in Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin. Among other notable buildings is a 14th-century Gothic church. The city became the seat of the counts of Kleve in the 11th century and later was the capital of the duchy of Kleve, created in 1417. In 1614 the duchy, which embraced land on both sides of the Rhine, came into the possession of Brandenburg. The part of the duchy E of the Rhine was ceded to France in 1795; the remaining portion was seized by France from Prussia during the Napoleonic Wars. Both portions were restored in 1815 except for some small sections that were made part of the Netherlands. Pop. (1992 est.) 46,924.

Remember, too, that one of English King Henry VIII's six wives was called Anne of Cleeves - any link?

It is also possible that the name was brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Many of the early names recorded in medieval documents denote noble families but many also indicate migration from the continent of Europe during, and in the wake of the Norman invasion of 1066. There was a constant stream of merchants, workmen and others arriving in England during this time. In 1086 the Record of Great Inquisition of lands of England, (otherwise known as the Domesday Book) was compiled and a note of their extent, value, ownership and liabilities was made by order of William The Conqueror. The names introduced into Britain by the Normans during the Invasion of 1066 were of three kinds. There were names of Norse origin which their ancestors had carried into Normandy; names of Germanic origin which the Frankish conquerors had brought across the Rhine and which had ousted the old Celtic and Latin names from France, and Biblical names and names of Latin and Greek saints. These names they retained even after the customs and language of the natives of Northern France had been adopted by them. After the Norman Conquest not only Normans, but Frenchmen and Bretons from other parts of France settled in England and Wales, and quite a few found their way north into Scotland.

Another reference quotes - "Clevenger is likely an English occupational name for the wood splitter, from the Old English elements cloefan = to split, cut + -er as an agent suffix. (See also Clover).  Do realise that doesn't account for the "g", but there are many names which had intrusive consonants added as an aid to pronunciation, or by association.  For example, the similar name Cleverly is derived from Old English clif = cliff + leah = wood, clearing . . . which created Clevely, but is generally found as Cleverly by association, with the more commonly found word "clever."

Readers of these pages are encouraged to provide relevant information, either by way of links to other sites, or other information about noteworthy persons of the surname and its connections.
Contributors should supply an "article" to be added to this page.  It need not be credited on the page to the person supplying the text.

The surname may have originated from the hamlet of CLEVELEY (sometimes spelt CLEVELY), in the parish of Enstone, which forms part of the English County of Oxford . You may read here extracts taken from old books regarding, and maps of the hamlet, old and current.

The originals of the old documents can be viewed at some libraries in Oxfordshire and you may wish to contact the Oxfordshire County website for further information.

Thornton-Cleveleys. This delightful small town is situated at the end of the tramline about four miles north of the famous English west coast holiday town of Blackpool (famous for its tower).  I made enquiries as to the origin of its name and have been told by the local authority that the town took its name from a Mr. Cleveley who moved from Manchester, England, and set-up a coaching or public house.  As is quite common, even today, the premises took the name of the proprietor (often in place of the actual name, such as The Red Dragon).  As the area developed the name must have "stuck".

There is a concentration of persons with the Clevely (or similar) surname listed in the Telephone Directories for the area of England around Bristol, in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire areas, around the River Severn and it would be interesting to hear from anyone who is from that area. provide a distribution map of the Clevely surname in 1891 - you can use that website to research further family history information.

The following list of persons have an interest in the CLEVELY / CLEVELEY surname (possibly shown) and can be contacted at the e-mail address BUT NOT EXACTLY AS SHOWN.  Extra spaces have been inserted either side of the @ sign and must be removed manually (read here if you need to know why).


Noteworthy persons of the surname.

John Clevely, c.1745-1786,
From James Cleveley's Drawings
Discovery and Resolution at an Island in the Pacific, 1777 178-?

oil on canvas; 68.5 x 122.1 cm
Rex Nan Kivell Collection; NK812 T349
National Library of Australia

  • On Captain Cook's ship, The Bounty, sailed twin brothers John and James Clevely. Both were artists who recorded many of the places, etc. on the voyages.

  • Quote from N.L.A. "There has been much debate over which Cleveley brother, John or James, actually painted this and other works ascribed to J. Cleveley. Traditionally attributed to James, it now seems more likely that John engraved and painted in oils his brother's drawings and water colours. An untrained artist, James was a carpenter on the Resolution. John was a natural history and marine painter, and his twin, Robert, was marine painter to the Prince Regent. John joined Cook's second voyage on the recommendation of Banks, possibly sailing on the same ship as James."





TELEPHONE (01947) 601900

25th August,1996.

Mr. C. Clevely,

Dear Mr. Clevely,

I have researched your enquiry and find the following information.

James Clevely (carpenter) sailed on the Resolution on Captain Cook's second voyage 1776-1780 (reference Beaglehole page 503). He joined the Resolution on 10th February 1776 and although employed as a carpenter it was stated that "has a talent for drawing".  He made drawings of scenes on the voyage from which his brother, John, worked up a series of paintings and lithographs which were published 1787/1788.

The museum has 4 hand coloured aquatint paintings by John Clevely (1747-1786) who was a well known marine painter. The scene depicting the death of Captain Cook is thought by many to be the most accurate representation of that event.  The four paintings that are at the museum are:

1. View of Morea (one of the Society Islands)

2. View of Matavia Bay, Otaheite (Tahiti).

3. View of Huaheine (one of the Society Islands).

4. Kealakekua Bay, Owyhee (Hawaii) showing the death of James Cook.

After a thorough search this is the only information I can find 
regarding the Clevely family but I hope it is of some use to you.

(Signed) Yours sincerely,
Andrew Milson,

CHARITY NO.517546                                                                                                            REGISTRATION NO. RD133


  A welcome submission by -

1 Wimbledon Road, Westbury Park, Bristol.  BS6 7YA

Roy E. Cleveley.   roy.cleveley @

Family History Interest.   CLEVELEY OR CLEVELY SURNAME 

Information of interest to persons whose surname is spelt as either of the above. 

In July, 1979, the BBC ran an arts-TV programme which included some 18th century marine artists, one being a John Cleveley, the elder, 1712 – 1777.  A painting of his depicting a launching at Deptford Docks, London, was duly signed at the base of the painting and this prompted me to write to the BBC for further information, because he and I shore the same surname.  They gave me some useful, linked, information but also referred me to contact the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich where many ‘Cleveley’ paintings are kept.

The museum supplied me with a deal of historical information and invited me and three of my male cousins to visit Greenwich and view these works, over 100 of them in one form or another!  These were painted by John Cleveley the elder and his two twin sons, John and Robert.  There was another son, James, believed to be the eldest, who was adept at sketching quickly and accurately but he did not paint scenes as such.  Whatever he did of topical interest, one of his twin brothers would firm up his etchings in a finished painting.

Four of us Cleveleys spent an excellent day at Greenwich, browsing through many written records on this family of artists, also seeing a great number of their paintings in a well-protected storage building some distance away.

On returning to our home in Bristol, we were keen to draw up a family-tree and to see exactly where our genealogy lay.  This gave us a direct link with those London Cleveleys of the early to late 18th century.

It transpired that the issue from John, the elder, eventually established a wine-merchant business in Southwark, known as Parrot & Co., for which there is a printed logo to prove this.  Three brothers ran the business and it prospered.  However, one of the brothers, Henry, would travel to Bristol regularly from London concerning imports of sherry in particular as this was a port famous for its trade with Portugal.  In Bristol, Henry eventually met and married a Dorcas Haskins, which angered his brothers who considered he had ‘married beneath him’ - not an uncommon accusation in those days!  Henry remained firm in his resolve however, so his brothers dismissed him from their business in London.  Henry remained in Bristol and settled down there with his new wife, who was apparently not at all kind to him!  She was the daughter of a builders’ merchant who lived in Old Bread Street, close to where the present giant firm of Gardiner-Haskins now stands.  Bread Street remains in situ to this day, although in a rather dilapidated, unbuilt-up area.

We are fairly sure that the present Gardiner Haskins grew out of that building merchants’ business because it deals in all manner of building and electrical goods.   There is no firm proof of this, however, and when the firm was approached about looking up their records, they replied that most of their historical documents were destroyed in the blitzes on the city!  Coincidence is strong, however but must be left there.

In reading on your site of the Cleveleys living in and around Bristol, we are convinced that Henry and Dorcas were the ‘founder-members’ of our progeny.  Most of the Cleveleys found in the local Bristol telephone directory, for example, are related in some way or another.  Those others in the Midlands, Scotland and beyond, such as Canada, could well have emanated from any of those London artists and their forebears.  We hope to obtain a direct link with us in the south west with one or more of them.

As for those artists’ paintings and etchings, they are all of a very high standard and it is believed that HM the Queen owns one of John Cleveley’s – the elder – paintings, which probably hangs in Windsor Castle.


I conclude with an abridged version of the National Maritime Museum’s information given to me by letter of July, 1979.

‘John Cleveley, the elder, was born approx. 1712, the son of Samuel Cleveley of Southwark, a joiner.  John became a shipwright, married and had twin sons, Robert and John, whiles living in Deptford, plus another son James.

John died in 1777 and was buried at Deptford on 27th May 1777.  His wife was given charge of all his goods and chattels.  The parish of St.Paul’s, Deptford, records his death thus -

   'John Cleveley, carpenter, belonging to His Majesty’s ship the Victory, in the pay of His Majesty’s navy.’ 

Twin sons were born in 1747 and John junior also became a shipwright and received instruction in water colour painting from Paul Sandby, drawing master at Woolwich!

In 1772 John joined Lord Mulgrave’s expedition to the north polar seas and was also supernumerary aboard the ‘Adventure’.  Cook’s second voyage 1772-75, was as draughtsman to Banks.   It is said that John painted a series of watercolours from the sketches made by his older brother James who was possibly carpenter on Cook’s ‘Resolution’.  This was Cook’s third voyage, in 1776-80!

Robert became a caulker and outlived his twin brother by 23 years.  He was appointed marine painter to the Prince of Wales, and marine draughtsman to the Duke of Clarence.

Robert concentrated his painting on marine battles, for which he is apparently well known .

James’ sketchbooks are part of the Sheepshank’s Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.’


Several books about horticultural matters have been written by Andi Clevely, many are available for sale through the 'Net and other "bookshops".

Do you of any other interesting Clevelys (or similar spellings)?

Please look at the various linked pages from this page.



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This page was updated - 09 December, 2014