Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,768 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

Like many one-namers, I began with an interest in my own immediate family which aroused curiosity about the bigger picture. I am in the process of building a comprehensive database of CLOSE (and the variant CLOSS) births, marriages, deaths and census records for England & Wales, with a view to reconstructing family lines and analysing this information to identify patterns. I will endeavour to answer queries connected with these surnames, but please be patient as this study still has a long way to go.While I'm concentrating on England and Wales, I'd be delighted to work with you if you are collecting data from any other part of the world. I'm particularly anxious to find CLOSE descendants in the USA, Australia and New Zealand - please contact me if you'd like to contribute to some aspect of this study.

Variant names

There are a number of cases where CLOSE has become CLOSS or vice versa, or where the two surnames seem to be used interchangeably for the same individuals. I have yet to find any direct link between CLOSE and other surnames listed in some surname dictionaries as variants. For that reason, and in order to keep my study within manageable proportions, I have now discontinued my research into CLOWES, CLOWS, CLEWES, CLEWES, CLUCE, CLUSE, CLUES, CLUCE, CLOWSER, CLOWES, CLEWES etc - researchers are therefore urgently needed! I'd be delighted if you could pick up and register one or more of these names with the Guild, in which case I would be happy to provide you with all the data I collected for these names and variants.

Name origin

The surname CLOSE has two possible origins: it could be topographical, referring to an enclosed place such as a courtyard or farmyard, or a nickname for someone reserved or secretive. I'm inclined to favour the 'enclosed place' origin, since the term 'a close of land' occurs frequently in early wills and land records.It would appear that most bearers of the name today pronounce it as the adjective in 'a close relationship'. However, it is said that John 'Poet' CLOSE (1816-1891) pronounced his surname as the verb in 'close the window'. Is your name CLOSE? How do you pronounce it?

Historical occurrences of the name

Early references to the name include:
  • 1214 William LE CLOS (Curia Regis Rolls, Cambridge)
  • 1296 Nicholas DE CLOS (Subsidy Rolls, Sussex)
  • 1327-1333 Thomas DE(L) CLOS(E) of Grinton (Subsidy Rolls, Yorkshire)
  • 1355-1362 Sir Thomas DEL CLOSE, Rector of Brougham, Westmorland
  • 1401-1409 John CLOOS, attorney (Calendar of Assize Rolls, Calendar of Plea & Memoranda Rolls, London)
  • 1417 John CLOSE (sen. & jun.), Robert CLOSE, soldiers (
  • 1448-1450 Nicholas CLOOS D.Th. Prebendary of Wedmore Quarta
  • 1450-1452 Nicholas CLOSE (or CLOOS), Bishop of Carlisle
  • 1470 death of Stephen CLOSE (or CLOOS), Archdeacon of Carlisle
  • 1479-1501 John CLOOS, Dean of Chichester
  • 1491-92 Rychard CLOSE, warden, St Mary at Hill, City of London

Please let me know if you come across other early references.

Name frequency

Frequency of the surnames in England & Wales in the 19th Century and the start of the 20th.
1841:   CLOSE 1,530     CLOSS    87
1861:   CLOSE 1,553     CLOSS    93
1881:   CLOSE 2,439     CLOSS    98
1901:   CLOSE 3,060     CLOSS  133
It is estimated that the number of individuals in England in 2002 with these surnames was as follows:
CLOSE      4,516
CLOSS         139
If you are one of these, then I would be delighted to hear from you.

Distribution of the name

Distribution of the surnames in England & Wales in 1861 was as follows:
Counties with over 100 CLOSE occurrences in 1861 were:
  • Yorkshire - mainly Swaledale - (415)
  • Durham (205)
  • Lancashire - the majority around Wigan and Liverpool - (159)
  • Gloucestershire - centred around Minchinhampton (142).
  • A total of 113 occurred in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, mainly in and around Collyweston.
The most CLOSS occurrences in 1861 were in
  • Caernarvonshire (20) - believed to be descendants of a Swaledale CLOSE -
  • Middlesex (15)
  • Monmouthshire (10) (some of whom are elsewhere listed as CLOSE)
  • single figures in just 5 other counties of England & Wales.

I am now beginning to work my way through the Scottish census records and find that the majority of people named CLOSE or CLOSS in Scotland appear to be of Irish descent.

Do you know of other 'hotspots' for these surnames?


You will need to register as a user of my CLOSE/CLOSS archive files - just follow the instructions on the archive front page. I may also have additional information which isn't on the website - and you may have information which is new to me, so send me an email so that we can help one another! You can search for England & Wales data covering
  • CLOSE and variants births 1837-1963
  • CLOSE and variants marriages 1837-1963
  • CLOSE and variants deaths 1837-1963.
  • CLOSE and variants wills and administration 1858-1930.
  • CLOSE and variants England & Wales census data 1841-1911

I also have more recent BMD records in my database - please contact me if you need information about these. The CLOSE listings for the whole of the England and Wales census 1841-1911 are now (more or less!) complete. If you're able to help in preparing spreadsheets for Scotland and USA (or any other!) census data, I'd be delighted to collaborate with you.  

Please let me know if you find any errors or if you can add further information. I'm grateful to those who have contacted me recently with additional information on CLOSE families.  If you don't find what you are looking for, please contact me (details below) and I may be able to help.


Catherine CLOSE, the administrator for the CLOSE DNA project operated by Family Tree DNA, has recently added me as a co-administrator. I'm pleased to report that recently several additional male CLOSEs have joined the project, but we still need more people to be tested, so if you are male with the surname CLOSE, and have evidence of a male CLOSE ancestry for at least 4 generations (preferably more) then please consider taking a test. Test kits are available in the UK at a reduced price from me through the Guild of One-Name Studies (see my contact details below), or through the CLOSE project on Family Tree DNA. Follow this link for details of the Family Tree DNA project.