Lean History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

In the mountains of Scotland's west coast and on the Hebrides islands, the ancestors of the Lean family were born. Their name comes from a devotion to St. John. The surname is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic Mac Gille Eathain, a patronymic name meaning "son of the servant of Saint John." The Clan is descended from Eachan Reaganach, (brother of Lachlan the progenitor of the Macleans of Duart). These two brothers were both descended from Gilleathain na Tuaidh, known as 'Gillian of the Battleaxe', a famed warrior of the 5th century. Eachan, or Hector was given the lands of Lochbuie from John, the first Lord of the Isles, some time in the 14th century.

Early Origins of the Lean family

The surname Lean was first found in the Western Isles where the Clan held extensive lands on almost every island in the Western Hebrides.

Early History of the Lean family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lean research. Another 139 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1411, 1500, 1745, 1560, 1630, 1582, 1658, 1604, 1666, 1620, 1651, 1649, 1651, 1645, 1674, 1651, 1674, 1650, 1687, 1670, 1716, 1674, 1716, 1745 and are included under the topic Early Lean History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lean Spelling Variations

In various documents Lean has been spelled Since medieval scribes still spelled according to sound, records from that era contain an enormous number of spelling variations. MacLean, MacLaine, MacLane, MacLeane, MacClean, MacClain, MacClaine, MacGhille Eoin (Gaelic) and many more.

Early Notables of the Lean family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Hector MacLean, Lord of Dowart (c.1560-c.1630), Scottish Lord of the Clan MacLean; Francis Cleyn (Clein, Franz Klein) (c. 1582-1658), a painter and tapestry designer; Sir John Maclean, 1st Baronet, (1604-1666); Sir Hector Maclean, 2nd Baronet of Morvern (c.1620-1651), the 18th Clan Chief of Clan Maclean from 1649 to 1651...
Another 56 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Lean Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Lean family to Ireland

Some of the Lean family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 67 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Lean migration to the United States +

The descendants of the Dalriadan families who made the great crossing of the Atlantic still dot communities along the east coast of the United States and Canada. In the American War of Independence, many of the settlers traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Clan societies and highland games have allowed Canadian and American families of Scottish descent to recover much of their lost heritage. Investigation of the origins of family names on the North American continent has revealed that early immigrants bearing the name Lean or a variant listed above include:

Lean Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Richard Lean, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812 [1]
  • Peter Lean, who landed in New York, NY in 1815 [1]
  • Thomas Lean, who landed in New York, NY in 1816 [1]
  • Archival M Lean, who arrived in Puerto Rico in 1816 [1]
  • Charles C Lean, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1876 [1]

Canada Lean migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Lean Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Catherine Lean, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1757
  • Jean Pierre Lean, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1757
  • Jean Lean, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1757
  • John Lean, who landed in Quebec in 1784
Lean Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. M. Lean, aged 38 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Bee" departing 17th April 1847 from Cork, Ireland; the ship arrived on 12th June 1847 but he died on board [2]

Australia Lean migration to Australia +

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

Lean Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Felix Lean, a joiner, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • William Lean, a stone-mason, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Charles Lean, a engineer, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. Robert Lean, (b. 1809), aged 28, Cornish farmer, from St. Kew, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "City of Edinburgh" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 31st August 1837 [3]
  • Mrs. Lydia Lean, (b. 1815), aged 22, Cornish housemaid, from St. Endellion, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "City of Edinburgh" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 31st August 1837 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Lean 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:

Lean Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Lean, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1842 aboard the ship Regia
  • Miss Catherine Lean, (b. 1851), aged 23, Cornish servant departing on 28th July 1874 aboard the ship "Helen Denny" going to Hawkes Bay, New Zealand arriving in port on 22nd October 1874 [4]
  • Mr. Charles Lean, (b. 1864), aged 10, Cornish settler departing on 28th July 1874 aboard the ship "Helen Denny" going to Hawkes Bay, New Zealand arriving in port on 22nd October 1874 [4]
  • Mr. Edwin Lean, (b. 1862), aged 12, Cornish settler departing on 28th July 1874 aboard the ship "Helen Denny" going to Hawkes Bay, New Zealand arriving in port on 22nd October 1874 [4]
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Lean, (b. 1829), aged 45, Cornish settler departing on 28th July 1874 aboard the ship "Helen Denny" going to Hawkes Bay, New Zealand arriving in port on 22nd October 1874 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Lean Settlers in New Zealand in the 20th Century
  • Cecil Lean, aged 27, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "S. S. Waimana" in 1926

Contemporary Notables of the name Lean (post 1700) +

  • Kenneth Lean Sr., American politician, Burgess of Munhall, Pennsylvania, 1927 [5]
  • David Lean (b. 1935), Australian athlete
  • Edward Tangye Lean (1911-1974), British author, founded the original Inklings literary club while at Oxford University, brother of David Lean
  • Sir David Lean (1908-1991), English film director and producer, best remembered for big-screen epics such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India, nominated for nine Academy Awards, two-time Oscar winner


The Lean 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: Virtue mine honour
Motto Translation: Virtue is my honour.


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 83)
  3. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_bounty_nsw.pdf
  4. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to other ports, 1872 - 84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 15) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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