Select Clinton Surname Genealogy

Clinton has both English and Irish roots.  The principal English derivation is from a place name in Oxfordshire, Glympton.  The lords of Glympton were first Climptons and later Clintons.  A branch of this family transposed itself to County Longford in Ireland in the 1650's.  There was also in Ireland the Scots/Irish McClintock which sometimes contracted to McClinton and sometimes further to Clinton.

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England.  The Clintons of Oxfordshire were a substantial family, playing their role in English political life, with some interruptions, from the 12th to 19th centuries.  Geoffrey de Clinton was the chamberlain to Henry I and he built Kenilworth castle in Warwickshire.  William Clinton was Lord High Admiral of England in 1333. Seven generations later, Edward Clinton held the same title in Elizabethan times and was ennobled as Lord Lincoln.  His descendant Henry Clinton became the second Duke of Newcastle in 1768.

However, this family's fortunes took a nosedive during the Victorian era.  Henry Lord Clinton had to flee the country because of his gambling debts (only in the end to save himself by marriage to a wealthy heiress); while his brother Arthur Lord Clinton committed suicide after having become embroiled in a sensational court case where his love letters to a transvestite were read out.    

Ireland.  A Clinton, William Clinton, had supported the Royalist cause during the English Civil War and lost his estates as a result.  He settled instead in Longford County, Ireland.  His son Charles decided not to stay. He set off for America in the summer of 1729 with a group of like-minded Protestants who formed the Clinton Company. 

The largest numbers of Clintons in Ireland were to be found in County Louth where a Clinton family had arrived as part of John de Courcy's Anglo-Norman invasion force in the 1180's.  Their family fortunes took a downturn
during Cromwellian times when Stephen Clinton of Clintonstown lost his lands. 

There were also Scots McClintons in County Down (McClintocks whose name had contracted to McClinton).  Many of these Clintons and McClintons also emigrated.

America.  The early Clintons show a curious English/Irish disparity:
  • the English Clintons - George Clinton a governor of New York between 1743 and 1753 and his son Sir Henry who commanded the English troops for part of the Revolutionary War - returned to England. 
  • but the Charles Clinton who had arrived from Ireland settled in upstate New York and his descendants became thoroughly Americanized.
George Clinton, Charles's youngest son, was an American general during the Revolutionary War and emerged as a hero.  When the British evacuated New York in 1783, Washington and Clinton led the American forces back into the city side by side on horseback.  His nephew DeWitt Clinton was largely responsible for the building of the Erie Canal (labelled at the time Clinton's ditch).  But the canal proved a great commercial success and the Clinton name was celebrated not only in New York but also in the Midwest.

Clintons in the South.  Clinton, the seat of Sampson county in North Carolina, was named after Richard Clinton, a Revolutionary War officer and politician.  Richard was the illegitimate son of John Sampson and his servant girl Rachel Clinton and he inherited the family wealth and position after Sampson's death in 1762.  Both Sampson and Clinton were of Scots Irish origin.  

What then of Bill Clinton's ancestry?  Genealogists find a typical Southern mishmash of southern and border forebears.  Clinton's mother side had Irish roots.  However, Clinton took the name not of his natural father but of his step-father, Roger Clinton.  The most influential person in his youth was probably his step-uncle, Raymond Clinton, a small-time Arkansas operator who had his political connections and ran a Buick franchise in Hot Springs.

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If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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Edward Clinton, Earl of Lincoln, was Lord High Admiral of England in Elizabethan times. 
George Clinton
was an American hero of the revolutionary War and later became US Vice President.     
DeWitt Clinton
was mainly responsible for the construction of the Erie Canal. 
William Jefferson Clinton
, born in Hope Arkansas, was the 42nd President of the United States. 
Hillary Rodham Clinton was Senator for New York, US Secretary of State, and subsequently ran unsuccessfully for the Presidency in 2016.

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  • 3,500 in the UK (most numerous in Durham)
  • 4,500 in America (most numerous in Texas).
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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