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Macleish Surname History



The ancient Dalriadan clans of Scotland spawned the name Macleish. It is derived from a devotion to Christianity. The Gaelic form of the name is M'A'Lios, which is a shortened form of Mac Giolla Iosa, meaning son of the servant of Jesus.


Early Origins of the Macleish family


The surname Macleish was first found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland, where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early rolls taken by the Kings of England and Scotland.

Early History of the Macleish family


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Macleish research.
Another 98 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Macleish History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Macleish Spelling Variations


In the Middle Ages, the translation between Gaelic and English was not a highly developed process. Spelling was not yet standardized, and so, an enormous number of spelling variations appear in records of early Scottish names. Macleish has appeared as MacLeish, MacCleish, MacLise, MacLish, MacGillies, MacGleish, MacGillis, MacLeash and many more.

Early Notables of the Macleish family (pre 1700)


More information is included under the topic Early Macleish Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Macleish family to the New World and Oceana


Many settled along the east coast of what would become the United States and Canada. As the American War of Independence broke out, those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these hardy Dalriadan-Scottish settlers began to recover their collective history in the 20th century with the advent of the vibrant culture fostered by highland games and Clan societies in North America. Highland games, clan societies, and other organizations generated much renewed interest in Scottish heritage in the 20th century. The Macleish were among the earliest of the Scottish settlers as immigration passenger lists have shown: Anne McLeish settled in Pennsylvania in 1833; George and Catherine McGillis settled in Pennsylvania in 1773.

Contemporary Notables of the name Macleish (post 1700)


  • Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982), American poet, three time Pulitzer prize winner, 1933 and 1953 for Poetry and 1959 for Drama and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, oldest son of Andrew MacLeish
  • Lieutenant Kenneth MacLeish USN (1894-1918), American officer and aviator in the United States Navy during World War I, posthumous recipient of the Navy Cross for his combat actions, eponym of the destroyer USS MacLeish (DD-220), youngest son of Andrew MacLeish
  • Andrew MacLeish (1838-1928), Scottish-born, American businessman and benefactor, co-founder of the University of Chicago, great-grandfather of Bruce MacLeish Dern, the Academy Award nominated film actor
  • Roderick “Eric” MacLeish (b. 1952), American lawyer, known for representing hundreds of sexual abuse victims in the Boston Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal
  • Richard George "Rick" MacLeish (1950-2016), Canadian professional NHL ice hockey forward who played from 1970 to 1984
  • Bruce MacLeish Dern (b. 1936), American two-time Academy Award nominated actor from Winnetka, Illinois, known for Nebraska (2013), The Hateful Eight (2015), The 'Burbs (1989) and Django Unchained (2012)

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