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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Leigh family come from? What is the English Leigh family crest and coat of arms? When did the Leigh family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Leigh family history?

The ancestors of the Leigh family brought their name to England in the wave of migration after the Norman Conquest of 1066. They lived in any of the various places named Leigh in England. There are at least 16 counties that contain a place named Leigh. The place-name was originally derived from the Old English word leah, which means wood clearing. The English Leigh family is descended from the Norman Leigh family.The family name Leigh became popular in England after the Norman Conquest, when William the Conqueror gave his friends and relatives most of the land formerly owned by Anglo-Saxon aristocrats. The Normans frequently adopted the names of their recently acquired estates in England.


Before the last few hundred years the English language had no fixed system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations occurred commonly in Anglo Norman surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Leigh were recorded, including Leigh, Lee, Lea, Legh, Leghe, Ligh, Lighe, Leyie, Ley and many more.

First found in Cheshire, where the Leigh family held a family seat from the years following the Norman Conquest of 1066. King William granted the lands of England to those who had served him in the Battle of Hastings. Many of these land barons adopted the name of their new holdings as a surname, according to the Norman custom. Thus, the first bearer of the name was Hamond Leigh, who was Lord of the Manor of High Leigh in Cheshire.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Leigh research. Another 349 words(25 lines of text) covering the years 1600, 1660, 1640, 1642, 1583, 1662, 1639, 1667, 1660, 1667, 1634, 1687, 1656, 1659, 1653, 1692, 1692, 1662, 1701, 1651, 1711, 1702, 1705, 1681, 1760, 1663, 1716, 1678, 1721, 1797 and are included under the topic Early Leigh History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 383 words(27 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Leigh Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Leigh family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 141 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


The unstable environment in England at this time caused numerous families to board ships and leave in search of opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad in places like Ireland, Australia, and particularly the New World. The voyage was extremely difficult, however, and only taken at great expense. The cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels caused many to arrive diseased and starving, not to mention destitute from the enormous cost. Still opportunity in the emerging nations of Canada and the United States was far greater than at home and many went on to make important contributions to the cultures of their adopted countries. An examination of many early immigration records reveals that people bearing the name Leigh arrived in North America very early:

Leigh Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • George Henry Leigh, who came to Virginia in 1607
  • Henry Leigh, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1607
  • John Leigh, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1635
  • George Leigh settled in Virginia in 1637
  • Georg Leigh, who landed in Virginia in 1637

Leigh Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • David Leigh, who landed in Virginia in 1704
  • Mary Leigh, who arrived in Virginia in 1715
  • Egerton Leigh, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1768
  • Austin Leigh, who arrived in Dominica in 1771

Leigh Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Sir Egerton Leigh, aged 52, arrived in New York in 1812
  • John Leigh, who came to Baltimore in 1834
  • Sebastian Leigh, who was naturalized in Philadelphia in 1839
  • Alice Leigh, aged 50, arrived in Missouri in 1846
  • Sam Leigh, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851


  • Mitch Leigh (1928-2014), American composer, best known for the musical Man of La Mancha
  • Carolyn Leigh (1926-1983), American lyricist for Broadway, movies, and popular songs
  • Janet Leigh (1927-2004), American Golden Globe winning actress, best known for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960)
  • Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), Lady Olivier, English actress winner of two Best Actress Academy Awards for playing "southern belles": Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  • Mike Leigh (b. 1943), British well-known playwright and theatre director
  • Chandos Leigh (1791-1850), 1st Baron Leigh, founder of Stoneleigh Cricket Club
  • Sir John Leigh (1884-1959), 1st Baronet, British mill-owner, newspaper-proprietor


  • Hezekiah Leigh (also Lee) by John D. Gifford.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Force avec vertu
Motto Translation: Strength with virtue.



  1. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  2. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  6. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  7. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  9. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  11. ...

The Leigh Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Leigh Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 28 April 2014 at 12:02.

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