English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.


Major Settlement in the Parish of Clawton

Historical Forms

  • Clauetona 1086 DB
  • Clavatona 1088 Totnes
  • Clauton' 1242 Fees775


This place-name must clearly be considered together with Clawford and Claw Moor supra 128, higher up the river Claw supra 3, on which Clawton stands. This would suggest at first sight that Claw must be a genuine river-name, otherwise one has to assume a large measure of coincidence, but along with these names must go Claw Cross supra 82, where we have uncompounded Claw and no possibility of a river, and Claw infra 381. Cf. also the field and minor names le Clawes 1525AOMB (Woodbury, D), ate Clauwe (p) in a SR for 1332 (Sr), la Clawe 1336 Ipm (Martock, So), le Clawe 1326, 1510Ct (Thorpe, Sr). All these are against any river-name solution but point equally clearly to some toponymic term. It can only be suggested that the common OE  clawu by some local custom was used in Devon and elsewhere of land whose topography suggested a claw or something cloven. It is impossible to discover the exact application of the names now. Ekwall (RN 80) suggests that at least in the case of Clawton the reference may be to a tongue of land between two streams. If this is correct the stream-name is a back-formation.