also Clarke, surname, from common Middle English alternative spelling of clerk (n.). In many early cases it is used of men who had taken minor orders.
late 15c. as a nickname for Alexander; it is a diminutive or familiar variant of the nickname Saunder, which is preserved in surnames, as in Clerk Saunders of the old Border ballad. As the typical name for a Scotsman (especially a Lowlander) from 1785; in that use also punning on the hair-color sense of sandy (adj.). Also Sawney.
Lister (attested from 1286, an Anglian surname) is contracted from litster, from Middle English liten "to dye, color" (from Old Norse; see lit (n.1)) + fem. agent suffix -ster; hence, "a dyer." Unless it is from lister (late 14c.) "clerk whose duty is to read and expound Scriptures; one who reads books, a reader" (from a variant of French litres).