Lea History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Lea is one of the many new names that came to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Lea family 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. [1] The English Lea family is descended from the Norman Lea family. The family name Lea 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.

Early Origins of the Lea family

The surname Lea was first found in Cheshire, at High Leigh, where the name is from "an eminent family, who for centuries in that county nearly all the gentry families of that name claim descent." [2]

Of note are the following ancient families: Legh of East Hall, in High Legh, county Chester, descended from Efward de Lega, who lived at or near the period of the Conquest and who appears to have a Saxon origin; Leigh of West Hall, in High Leigh, originally De Lynne who married a Legh heiress in the 13th century; and Leigh of Adlestrop (Baron Leigh) county Gloucester, descended from Agens, daughter and heiress of Richard de Legh. [3]

Leigh is a fairly common place name that dates back to pre-Conquest times as Leigh, Herefordshire and Worcestershire were both listed as Beornothesleah in 972. [1]

There are over nineteen villages that are either named Leigh or include Leigh in their name throughout Britain. The parish of Hughley in Shropshire derives "its name from Hugh de Lea, proprietor of the manor in the twelfth century, and ancestor of the Leas of Langley and Lea Hall." [4]

"The township [of Poulton with Fearnhead, Lancashire] has been the property of the Legh family, of Lyme, since their union with the Haydocks. Bruch, or Birch, the old manor-house, existing in the 12th of Charles I., was given by Sir Peter Legh to his fourth son Peter, whose grand-daughter married the grandson of Dr. Thomas Legh, the third son of Sir Peter." [4]

Early History of the Lea family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lea research. Another 252 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1548, 1563, 1614, 1589, 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 Lea History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lea Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Leigh, Lee, Lea, Legh, Leghe, Ligh, Lighe, Leyie, Ley and many more.

Early Notables of the Lea family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was John Leigh of Isel, High Sheriff of Cumberland in 1548; William Lee (1563-1614), English clergyman and inventor of the first stocking frame knitting machine in 1589; Sir Richard Lee, 2nd Baronet (ca. 1600-1660), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1640 to 1642, supporter of the Royalist side in the English Civil War; John Ley (1583-1662), an English clergyman and member of the Westminster Assembly; Sir Francis Henry Lee, 4th Baronet (1639-1667), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1660 to 1667; Richard Legh (1634-1687)...
Another 125 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Lea Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Lea family to Ireland

Some of the Lea family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 77 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Lea migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Lea or a variant listed above were:

Lea Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Lea, aged 16, who landed in America in 1635 [5]
  • William Lea, who arrived in Virginia in 1654 [5]
  • John Lea, who arrived in Virginia in 1656 [5]
  • John Lea, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1699 [5]
Lea Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Eliza Lea, who landed in Virginia in 1701 [5]
  • William Lea, who landed in Virginia in 1703 [5]
  • Math Lea, who landed in Virginia in 1705 [5]
  • Isaac Lea, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1728 [5]
Lea Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert Lea, who landed in New York, NY in 1815 [5]
  • Richard Lea, who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1822 [5]
  • Stephen Lea, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]
  • W O Lea, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]
  • Mrs. Lea, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1855 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Lea migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Lea Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Lea, (b. 1803), aged 28, British convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life for House breaking, transported aboard the "Asia" on 29th September 1831, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Mr. Henry Lea, (b. 1815), aged 22, British Convict who was convicted in Hertford, England for 7 years forstealing lead, transported aboard the "Asia" on 20th July 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1899 [7]
  • Mr. Theodore Lea, English convict who was convicted in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Barossa" on 8th December 1839, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Cabolum Lea, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lady Lilford" in 1839 [9]
  • Elizabeth Lea, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lady Lilford" in 1839 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Lea migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Lea Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Lea, (b. 1834), aged 24, British bricklayer travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Mystery" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 29th March 1859 [10]
  • Miss Elizabeth Lea, (b. 1835), aged 23, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Mystery" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 29th March 1859 [10]
  • Mr. A. A. W. Lea, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Evening Star" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 14th October 1860 [10]
  • Mrs. Lea, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Evening Star" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 14th October 1860 [10]
  • James Lea a farmer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Romulus" in 1862
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Lea (post 1700) +

  • William H. H. Lea, American Republican politician, Postmaster at Carnegie, Pennsylvania, 1898-1911 [11]
  • Thomas Calloway Lea Jr. (1877-1945), American politician, Mayor of El Paso, Texas, 1915-17 [11]
  • Pryor Lea (1794-1879), American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, 1821-28; U.S. Representative from Tennessee 2nd District, 1827-31; Delegate to Texas secession convention, 1861 [11]
  • Preston Lea (1841-1916), American Republican politician, Governor of Delaware, 1905-09; Delegate to Republican National Convention from Delaware, 1908 [11]
  • Luke Lea, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, 1876-85 [11]
  • Luke Lea (1879-1945), American Democrat politician, U.S. Senator from Tennessee, 1911-17; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 1912 [11]
  • Luke Lea (1783-1851), American politician, Representative from Tennessee 3rd District, 1833-37; Secretary of State of Tennessee, 1835-39 [11]
  • John McCormick Lea (1818-1903), American politician, Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, 1848-50; Circuit Judge in Tennessee [11]
  • Howard F. Lea, American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Missouri 5th District, 1910 [11]
  • George R. Lea, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New Hampshire State Senate 14th District, 1948 [11]
  • ... (Another 24 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Lusitania


The Lea Motto +

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. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1831
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th February 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1837
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/barossa
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LADY LILFORD 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839LadyLilford.htm
  10. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 28) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  12. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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