Lee History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Lee was carried to England in the enormous movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Lee 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 Lee family is descended from the Norman Lee family. The family name Lee 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 Lee family

The surname Lee 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 Lee family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lee 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 Lee History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lee Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Leigh, Lee, Lea, Legh, Leghe, Ligh, Lighe, Leyie, Ley and many more.

Early Notables of the Lee 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 Lee Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Lee family to Ireland

Some of the Lee 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 Lee migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Lee or a variant listed above:

Lee Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Bridget Lee, who landed in America in 1620 [5]
  • Samuel Lee, who arrived in America in 1620 [5]
  • Tryphasa Lee, who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1623 [5]
  • Tryphosa Lee, who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1623 [5]
  • William Lee, who arrived in Virginia in 1633 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Lee Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Pricilla Lee, who arrived in Virginia in 1700 [5]
  • Hump Lee, who landed in Virginia in 1700 [5]
  • Eliz Lee, who landed in Virginia in 1705 [5]
  • Bryan Lee, who landed in Virginia in 1711 [5]
  • Philip Lee, who landed in Virginia in 1712 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Lee Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Charles Lee, who arrived in New York in 1800 [5]
  • Arthur Lee, who landed in America in 1801-1802 [5]
  • Ezekiel Lee, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1802 [5]
  • Ephraim Lee, aged 26, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803 [5]
  • Edward Lee, aged 23, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Lee Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Sol N Lee, who arrived in New York, NY in 1900 [5]
  • Halvor Olson Lee, who landed in Wisconsin in 1907 [5]

Canada Lee migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Lee Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Benjamin Lee, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • Edward Lee, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • Mr. Daniel Lee Sr., U.E. (b. 1754) born in Worcester, England from Pembroke, Maine, USA who settled in St. George, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784 married to Martha Ash they had 9 children, he died in 1818 Bonny River, New Brunswick [6]
  • Mr. David Lee U.E. who settled in Bastard [Rideau Lakes], Leeds and Greenville, Ontario c. 1784 [6]
  • Mr. Edward Lee U.E. who settled in Parr Town, Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Lee Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Lee, who landed in Canada in 1829
  • Sarah Lee, aged 26, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo, Ireland
  • Daniel Lee, aged 27, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo, Ireland
  • Judith Lee, aged 10, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Elizabeth" from Galway, Ireland
  • Andrew Lee, aged 20, a smith, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Lee Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Mrs. Lee, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907
  • Miss E Lee, who landed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907
  • Miss F Lee, who landed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907
  • H Lee, who landed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907
  • J Lee, who landed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907

Australia Lee migration to Australia +

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

Lee Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
Lee Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Lee, British convict who was convicted in Worcester, Worcestershire, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Calcutta" in February 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Mr. Augustus Lee, English convict who was convicted in Kent, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Baring" in December 1818, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. William Lee, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Baring" in December 1818, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. John Lee, English convict who was convicted in Chester, Chestershire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asiatic" on 5th June 1819, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Benjamin Lee, English convict from Surrey, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Lee 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:

Lee Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Walter Lee, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Michael Lee, aged 20, a sawyer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Cuba" in 1840
  • James Lee, aged 30, a farmer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mary Ann" in 1842
  • Elizabeth Lee, aged 26, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mary Ann" in 1842
  • Mr. John Lee, Cornish settler travelling from Launceston aboard the ship "Marys" arriving in New Zealand in 1848 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Lee (post 1700) +

  • Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870), American and Confederate soldier, best known as a commander of the Confederate States Army
  • Nelle Harper Lee (1926-2016), American author who received the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for her only novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom of the United States in 2007 for her contribution to literature
  • Grandma Lee (1934-2020), stage name of Frances Lee Strong, American stand-up comedian
  • Mark Owen Lee (1930-2019), American classics and music scholar and Roman Catholic priest
  • Stan Lee (1922-2018), American chairman of Marvel Comics and creator of such legendary comic book heroes as Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, and Dr. Strange
  • Edwin Mah Lee (1952-2017), American politician and attorney, 43rd Mayor of San Francisco (2011-2017)
  • Katie Lee (1919-2017), American folk singer, writer, actress, photographer and environmental activist
  • Kent Liston Lee (1923-2017), American Vice Admiral of the United States Navy, Commander of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) during the Vietnam War
  • Joan Clayton Boocock Lee (1921-2017), British-American hat model and actress, wife of Stan Lee, voice actress for Spider-Man and Fantastic Four in the 1990s
  • Sheila Jackson Lee (b. 1950), American Democrat politician, Municipal judge in Texas, 1987-90; U.S. Representative from Texas 18th District, 1995-; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 [13]
  • ... (Another 37 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Sydney Lee, British Cook from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [14]
  • Mrs. Ethel Mary Lee (1892-1914), née Durham Canadian Third Class Passenger from Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [14]
  • Miss Ailse Holland Lee (1891-1914), Canadian First Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland [14]
Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. John Francis  Lee (1917-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [15]
  • Mrs. Mary Murphy  Lee (1888-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [15]
  • Mr. Russell  Lee (1888-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [15]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Wilfred Lee (b. 1913), English Assistant Steward serving for the Royal Navy from Norton, County Durham, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [16]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. William Lee, British Able Seaman from, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [17]
  • Mr. John Lee, British Able Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [17]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Robert Lee, British Leading Telegraphist, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [18]
HMS Royal Oak
  • John H. Lee, British Signalman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [19]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. William Lee, English Trimmer from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [20]
  • Mr. Daniel Lee, Irish Fireman from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking and was recovered [20]
  • Mr. Richard  Lee, English First Waiter from West Derby, Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [20]
  • Miss Bridget Lee, Irish 2nd Class passenger residing in New York, New York, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [21]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. H. Lee (d. 1912), aged 18, English Trimmer from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [22]
  • Mr. Reginald Robinson Lee, aged 41, English Lookout from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping on life boat 13 [22]
  • Mr. Ling Lee (d. 1912), aged 28, Chinese Third Class passenger from Hong Kong who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [22]
  • Mr. Bing Lee, aged 32, Chinese Third Class passenger from Hong Kong who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking in collapsible C [22]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Carroll Volney Lee Jr., American Seaman First Class from Texas, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [23]
  • Mr. Henry Lloyd Lee, American Seaman First Class from South Carolina, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [23]


The Lee 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.


Suggested Readings for the name Lee +

  • 26 Descendants & Ancestors of Charles & Fanny Crandall Lee by Earl Lee Smith, Lee of Virginia by Edmund Jennings Lee, Hezekiah Leigh by John D. Gifford.

  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. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 29th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/barwell
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/calcutta
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/baring
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  11. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Albion voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1823 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1823
  12. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  13. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2017, April 12) Sheila Lee. Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  14. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  15. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  16. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  17. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  18. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  19. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  20. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  21. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  22. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  23. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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