Leech History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Leech is from the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name was given to a person who was a doctor. Throughout the Middle Ages, doctors were known as "leaches" as the practice of bleeding sick people was the generally accepted manner of curing them. There are countless people in the Middle Ages who died thanks to the common cold; not because the virus killed them, but because they bled to death on the advice of their physicians. Bleeding was accomplished by placing a dozen or so leaches on the person who was ill so that they could remove the poisons that were making them ill, hence the name "leach" for the occupation of doctor. It is small wonder that illness was so feared in the medieval period; many people died from illnesses that would not have otherwise killed them because their doctors were weakening them through loss of blood.

Since the 1970s, Hirudo medicinalis, better known as the European medicinal leech has been routinely used to drain blood after reconstructive surgery, particularly in finger reattachment and reconstructive surgery of the ear, nose, lip, and eyelid.

Early Origins of the Leech family

The surname Leech was first found in Oxfordshire where the earliest records of the family were found as Edmund le Leche and William le Leche who were both listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. A few years later, Robert le Leche was listed in the Writs of Parliament of 1307. [1]

Further north in Scotland, many records were found including: Henry Leche held a tenement in Glasgow in 1325. "Henry Leche, is later referred to in a safe conduct by Edward III of England in 1348 as "Hector medicus David de Bruys." From another reference to him in 1369, he turns out to be a MacBeth, perhaps one of the family of hereditary doctors of that name so famous in West Highland history. Wilham de Lech or Leche was burgess of Aberdeen, 1362. He may be William Leche, merchant of Aberdeen, whose goods were plundered in England, 1370, when his ship was driven ashore in Kirklee Rode, Suffolk." [2] They also settled in Monteith where they gave their name to Leitchtown.

Early History of the Leech family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Leech research. Another 61 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1150 and are included under the topic Early Leech History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Leech Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Leech family name include Leach, Leech, Leche, Leitch, Leich, Leetch and others.

Early Notables of the Leech family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Leech Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Leech family to Ireland

Some of the Leech family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Leech migration to the United States +

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Investigation of the origins of family names on the North American continent has revealed that early immigrants bearing the name Leech or a variant listed above:

Leech Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Millicent Leech, aged 28, who landed in Barbados in 1635 [3]
  • Rich Leech, aged 22, who landed in Barbados in 1635 [3]
  • Jon Leech, who landed in Virginia in 1636 [3]
  • Mark Leech, who arrived in Virginia in 1639 [3]
  • Stephen Leech, who arrived in Virginia in 1639 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Leech Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Joseph Leech, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 [3]
  • Duncan Leech, who arrived in New York in 1740 [3]
  • Mary Leech, who landed in South Carolina in 1772 [3]
  • Robert Leech, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773 [3]
Leech Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Samuel Leech, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [3]
  • Sarah Leech, who landed in New York, NY in 1816 [3]
  • Malcolm Leech, who landed in New York, NY in 1816 [3]
  • Andrew Leech, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816 [3]
  • Andrew Leech, who came from Ireland to New York in 1816
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Leech migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Leech Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • John Leech, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Mrs. Catharine Leech U.E. (née) Reid, Widowed Munro who settled in Quebec c. 1782, in 1789 granted land in Augusta, Ontario, relocated to 1803 to Front of Yonge Township, Leeds & Grenville, Ontarioher husband Mr John Munro was murdered and family was taken prisoner, transported from New York with 8 children in the fall of 1782 [4]
  • Mr. Thomas Leech U.E. who settled in Saint Johns, New Brunswick c. 1784 [4]
Leech Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Leech, aged 56 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Free Trader" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in September 1847 [5]
  • W Leech, who arrived in Victoria, British Columbia in 1862

Australia Leech migration to Australia +

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

Leech Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Daniel Leech, (b. 1760), aged 33, Irish convict who was convicted in Antrim, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Boddingtons" on 15th February 1793, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
Leech Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Robert Leech, British convict who was convicted in Beaumont Saint-Cyr (Beaucont), Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France for 7 years, transported aboard the "Baring" in April 1815, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • Mr. John Leech, English convict who was convicted in Liverpool, Merseyside, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Bengal Merchant" on 24th March 1838, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • David Leech, English convict from Worcester, who was transported aboard the "Agincourt" on July 6, 1844, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [9]
  • Mary Ann Leech, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asiatic" in 1849 [10]
  • James Leech, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Stebonheath" in 1849 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Leech 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:

Leech Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Charles Leech, British settler travelling from London via Plymouth aboard the ship "Tasmania" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on to Lyttelton on 26th February 1853 [12]
  • Mr. John Leech, British settler travelling from London via Plymouth aboard the ship "Tasmania" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on to Lyttelton on 26th February 1853, listed as for Lyttelton [12]
  • Mrs. Leech, (b. 1826), aged 27, British settler travelling from London via Plymouth aboard the ship "Tasmania" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on to Lyttelton on 26th February 1853, listed as for Lyttelton [12]
  • Mr. A. Leech, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Lord Ashley" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 14th October 1858 [13]
  • Mr. John Leech, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Nourmahal" arriving in Dunedin, Otaga, South Island, New Zealand on 5th May 1858 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Leech (post 1700) +

  • Margaret Kernochan Leech (1893-1974), also known as Margaret Pulitzer, an American author and historian, who won two Pulitzer Prizes in history
  • James Russell Leech (1888-1952), Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania
  • Geoffrey Neil Leech (1936-2014), English specialist in English language and linguistics
  • John Leech (1817-1864), English caricaturist
  • Mrs. Rosemary Frances Leech M.B.E., British Inspector for Police Service of Northern Ireland. was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 29th December 2018 for services to Policing and to the community in Northern Ireland [14]
  • Kenneth Leech (1939-2015), British Anglican priest and Christian socialist
  • John Leech (1934-2009), co-founder of the Onyx Cafe
  • John Leech (1926-1992), British mathematician, discoverer of the Leech Lattice
  • Faith Yvonne Leech (b. 1941), former Australian Olympic freestyle swimmer
  • Allen Leech (b. 1981), Irish stage, television and film actor

RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. T. Leech, English First Junior 3rd Engineer from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [15]


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ 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. 39)
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/boddingtons
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/baring
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 13th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bengal-merchant
  9. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 24) Agincourt voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1844 with 226 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/agincourt/1844
  10. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The ASIATIC 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Asiatic.htm
  11. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) STEBONHEATH 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Stebonheath.htm
  12. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  13. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  14. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018, www.thegazette.co.uk/honours-lists
  15. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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