The English surname Clay is a topographic name. The original bearer was named after the place the resided at. In the case of the name Clay it is derived from the Old English word ‘clay’, applied as a topographic name for someone who lived in an area of clay soil. Clay can also be an occupational name for a worker in a clay pit. The name Clay is first recorded in Lincolnshire in 1086 where members of the family from Normandy were granted lands by William the Conquerer in the town of Claye.