Show ContentsLeakey History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient history of the Leakey name begins with the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the family resided in one of the places that was called Leake. The name literally means "place at the brook," from the Scandinavian word "loekr." The Lincolnshire, Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire parishes all date back to the Domesday Book of 1086 [1] where they were listed as Leche, Lec(h)e and Lec(c)he respectively. [2]

Early Origins of the Leakey family

The surname Leakey was first found in either Lincolnshire, Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire which all have parishes names Leake. For some of the first listings of the family, we must look to Lincolnshire where the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list the following: John de Lek; Roger de Leke; and Teobald de Lek as all living in that shire at that time. [3]

Willie's Lyke-Wake is a Child Ballad, one of 305 traditional ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants listed in the 1904 Houghton Mifflin edition. Lyke-Wake Dirge is a traditional English song that is thought to have originated in the Yorkshire area.

Other early rolls included the following entries for the family: Walter de Lek in the Assize Rolls for Lincolnshire in 1202; Ralph de Lek in the Assize Rolls for Yorkshire in 1219; Henry de Leek in the Assize Rolls for Cheshire in 1290; John Leke in Lincolnshire (no date); and Ralph Leecke in the Hundredorum Rolls for Bedfordshire in 1279. [4]

Early History of the Leakey family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Leakey research. Another 64 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1334, 1581, 1655, 1627, 1679, 1660, 1633, 1681, 1656, 1720, 1710, 1712, 1708 and 1715 are included under the topic Early Leakey History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Leakey Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Leakey include Leake, Leak, Leek, Leeke, Leyke and others.

Early Notables of the Leakey family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: Francis Leke, 1st Earl of Scarsdale (1581-1655) fought for the Royalist cause in the English Civil War; Sir Francis Leke, 1st Baronet (1627-1679), an English soldier, administrator and Member of Parliament, High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire for 1660; William Leake, the father (died...
Another 49 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Leakey Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Leakey migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Leakey or a variant listed above:

Leakey Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Leakey, who landed in Maryland in 1669 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Leakey (post 1700) +

  • Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey (1903-1972), English paleoanthropologist and archaeologist who proved that humans evolved in Africa, progenitor of the famous Leakey family who continue his research
  • Colin Louis Avern Leakey (b. 1933), English botanist, son of Louis Leakey
  • Richard Erskine Frere Leakey (1944-2022), Kenyan paleoanthropologist, son of Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey, Director of the National Museum of Kenya, founded the NGO WildlifeDirect and was the chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service
  • Joshua Mark Leakey VC (b. 1988), British soldier currently serving in the Parachute Regiment, recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Jonathan Harry Erskine Leakey (b. 1940), Kenyan businessman and former archaeologist, son of Louis and Mary Leakey
  • Major General Arundell Rea Leakey CB, DSO, MC & Bar (1915-1999), British military tank commander, co-inventor of the Coles Universal Sun Compass
  • Meave Leakey (b. 1942), born Meave Epps, British paleontologist, wife of Richard Leakey
  • Mary Leakey (1913-1996), British paleoanthropologist who discovered the first fossilized Proconsul skull, wife of Louis Leakey
  • Princess Louise Leakey (b. 1972), birth name of Louise de Merode, a Kenyan paleontologist and anthropologist, daughter of Meave and Richard Leake
  • Philip Leakey (b. 1949), Kenyan politician
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Leakey 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: Agendo gnaviter
Motto Translation: By acting prudently.

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  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) on Facebook