Explore the Family Name Clark

The meaning of Clark

1. English: from Middle English clerk, clark ‘clerk, cleric, writer’ (Old French clerc; see Clerc). The original sense was ‘man in a religious order, cleric, clergyman’. As all writing and secretarial work in medieval Christian Europe was normally done by members of the clergy, the term clerk came to mean ‘scholar, secretary, recorder, or penman’ as well as ‘cleric’. As a surname, it was particularly common for one who had taken only minor holy orders. In medieval Christian Europe, clergy in minor orders were permitted to marry and so found families; thus the surname could become established. 2. Irish (Westmeath, Mayo): in Ireland the English surname was frequently adopted, partly by translation for Ó Cléirigh; see Cleary. 3. Americanized form of Dutch De Klerk or Flemish De Clerck or of variants of these names, and possibly also of French Clerc. Compare Clerk 2 and De Clark. 4. Americanized form of Italian Calarco.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Clark in the United States?

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the surname Clark has seen a slight decrease in popularity over the years. In 2000, it was ranked as the 25th most popular surname, but dropped two places to rank 27th by 2010. Despite this, the number of individuals carrying the Clark surname increased by about 2.61 percent from 548,369 in 2000 to 562,679 in 2010. However, the proportion per 100,000 people decreased by 6.16 percent, indicating that the growth rate of the Clark surname was slower compared to other surnames.

Proportion per 100k203.28190.75-6.16%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Clark

In terms of ethnic identity, the Decennial U.S. Census data shows some shifts within the Clark surname bearers between 2000 and 2010. The largest increase was seen among those identifying as Hispanic, which rose by 53.57 percent. Additionally, there were increases among those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander, with a rise of 31.71 percent, and those identifying as having two or more races, with an increase of 36.88 percent. The population of Clarks identifying as Black saw a modest growth of 2.64 percent, while those identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native increased by 7.45 percent. Conversely, there was a slight decrease of 2.85 percent among Clarks identifying as White.

Two or More Races1.6%2.19%36.88%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.94%1.01%7.45%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.41%0.54%31.71%

Clark ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Clark is British & Irish, which comprises 53.3% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (23.3%) and Eastern European (3.7%). Additional ancestries include Scandinavian, Italian, Nigerian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean.

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British & Irish53.3%
French & German23.3%
Eastern European3.7%

Possible origins of the surname Clark

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Clark have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom86.50%
Merseyside, United Kingdom86.30%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom86.20%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom86.20%
West Midlands, United Kingdom86.20%

What Clark haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Clark is R-CTS241, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-CTS241 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-P311 and R-L21, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Smith, Taylor, Brown, Wilson, White, Martin, Gray, Thompson, Young, Mitchell.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Clark surname are: H1, T2b, H. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

clarkPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Clark have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Clark" Surname 42.7%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Clark" Surname 27.2%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Clark" Surname 23.3%

23andMe Users 21.1%



Cat Allergy

An allergic reaction to cats, characterized by symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and difficulty breathing.

"Clark" Surname 35.6%

23andMe Users 36.7%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Clark?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Clark are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%