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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Chinese, English, Irish


As a native Irish surname, Lee is derived from the Gaelic name Mac Laoidhigh, which comes from the word "laoidh," which means "a poem;" or from Mac Giolla Iosa, which means "son of the devotee of Jesus." However, Lee is also a common indigenous name in England, many families of which have been established in Ireland since at least the 17th century.

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The surname Lee was first found in Connacht (Irish: Connachta, (land of the) descendants of Conn), where they were prominent in the west being anciently associated as hereditary physicians to the O'Flahertys. The McLees or McAlees were traditionally doctors or physicians. By the 16th century different branches had developed in Galway, in Leix, and in Munster at Cork and Limerick. The name in Gaelic was O'Laidhigh.

Those scribes in Ireland during the Middle Ages recorded names as they sounded. Consequently, in this era many people were recorded under different spellings each time their name was written down. Research on the Lee family name revealed numerous spelling variations, including McAlea, McAlee, MacAlee, MacAlea, MacLee, McLee, MacLees, McLees, MacLeas, McLeas, O'Lees, O'Leas, Lee and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lee research. Another 438 words (31 lines of text) covering the years 1253, 1600, 1650, and 1734 are included under the topic Early Lee History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Lee Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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A massive amount of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century for North America and Australia in hopes of finding more opportunities and an escape from discrimination and oppression. A great portion of these migrants arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent. Although they were generally poor and destitute, and, therefore, again discriminated against, these Irish people were heartily welcomed for the hard labor involved in the construction of railroads, canals, roadways, and buildings. Many others were put to work in the newly established factories or agricultural projects that were so essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the world. The Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s initiated the largest wave of Iris immigration. Early North American immigration and passenger lists have revealed a number of people 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
  • Samuel Lee, who arrived in America in 1620
  • Tryphasa Lee, who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1623
  • Tryphosa Lee, who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1623
  • Wm Lee, who arrived in Virginia in 1633


Lee Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Pricilla Lee, who arrived in Virginia in 1700
  • Hump Lee, who landed in Virginia in 1700
  • Eliz Lee, who landed in Virginia in 1705
  • Bryan Lee, who landed in Virginia in 1711
  • Philip Lee, who landed in Virginia in 1712


Lee Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Charles Lee, who arrived in New York in 1800
  • Arthur Lee, who landed in America in 1801-1802
  • Ezekiel Lee, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1802
  • Ephraim Lee, aged 26, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803
  • Edwd Lee, aged 23, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803


Lee Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • Sol N Lee, who arrived in New York, NY in 1900
  • Halvor Olson Lee, who landed in Wisconsin in 1907

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
  • Mr. David Lee U.E. who settled in Bastard [Rideau Lakes], Leeds and Greenville, Ontario c. 1784
  • Mr. Edward Lee U.E. who settled in Parr Town, Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784


Lee Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Andrew Lee, aged 20, a smith, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • Sarah Lee, aged 26, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo
  • Daniel Lee, aged 27, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo
  • Judith Lee, aged 10, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the ship "Elizabeth" from Galway
  • John Lee, aged 20, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Breeze" from Dublin


Lee Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century


  • Mrs. Lee, who arrived in St John, New Brunswick in 1907
  • Miss E Lee, who landed in St John, New Brunswick in 1907
  • Miss F Lee, who landed in St John, New Brunswick in 1907
  • H Lee, who landed in St John, New Brunswick in 1907
  • J Lee, who landed in St John, New Brunswick in 1907

Lee Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Benjamin Lee, English convict from Surrey, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • John Lee, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Henry Lee, English convict from Surrey, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Henry James Lee, aged 15, a labourer, arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Africaine" in 1836


Lee Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Walter Lee landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Michael Lee, aged 20, a sawyer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Cuba" in 1840
  • James Lee, aged 30, a farmer, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Mary Ann" in 1842
  • Elizabeth Lee, aged 26, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Mary Ann" in 1842
  • Andrew Lee, aged 18, arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1850


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  • 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
  • James Bainbridge "Jimmy" Lee Jr. (1952-2015), American investment banker, vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co
  • McDowell Lee (1925-2014), American politician, member of the Alabama House of Representatives (1955-1962), Secretary of the Alabama Senate (1963-2011)
  • Brigadier-General William Lecel Lee (1903-1976), American Commanding General 13th Air Force (1954-1956)
  • Major-General William Carey Lee (1895-1948), American Commanding General 101st Airborne Division (1942-1944)
  • General Robert Merrill Lee (1909-2003), American Commander of the Air Defense Command, Ent AFB, Colorado (1961-1963)
  • Brigadier-General Raymond Eliot Lee (1886-1958), American Commandant Field Artillery Replacement Training Center Fort Sill (1944-1945)
  • Lieutenant-General John Clifford Hodges Lee (1887-1958), American Deputy Commander in Chief Allied Forces Mediterranean (1946-1947)
  • Mark Charles Lee (b. 1952), former NASA astronaut with 4 shuttle missions and over 32 days in space
  • David Morris Lee (b. 1931), American physicist who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics

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  • Descendants & Ancestors of Charles & Fanny Crandall Lee by Earl Lee Smith.
  • Lee of Virginia by Edmund Jennings Lee.
  • Hezekiah Leigh by John D. Gifford.
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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: Fide et fortitudine
Motto Translation: By fidelity and fortitude.

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  1. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
  2. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  3. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  4. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  5. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  7. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  8. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  9. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  10. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. Print.
  11. ...

The Lee Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Lee Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 1 February 2016 at 11:47.

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