Legh History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The vast movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066 brought the Legh family name to the British Isles. They 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.  The English Legh family is descended from the Norman Legh family. The family name Legh 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 Legh family
The surname Legh 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." 
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. 
"The Lees of Lee, and Darnhall, co. Chester, now represented by the Townshends of Hem and Trevallyn, and the Lees of Quarendon, Bucks, of whom was the gallant Sir Henry Lee, K.G. and the Lees of Ditchley, Earls of Lichfield, whose descendant Viscount Dillon now possesses the Ditchley estate, spring from the De Lee of Battle Abbey." 
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. 
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." 
"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." 
Down in Devon, "a Totnes man, Sir Edmund Lye, ranks among the boldest seamen of Elizabethan days, and as one of the heroes who bore his part in the defeat of the Invincible Armada. Totnes contributed largely towards the fitting out of the Crescent and the Hart, two vessels sent from Dartmouth to join the Anti-Armada fleet. " 
Early History of the Legh family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Legh 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 Legh History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Legh Spelling Variations
A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Leigh, Lee, Lea, Legh, Leghe, Ligh, Lighe, Leyie, Ley and many more.
Early Notables of the Legh 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 Legh Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Legh family to Ireland
Some of the Legh 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.
Migration of the Legh family
Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Legh or a variant listed above: George Henry Leigh, who came to Virginia in 1607, 13 years before the arrival of the Mayflower; George Lee and John Lee, who both settled in Virginia in 1635.
Related Stories +
The Legh 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.
- ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
- ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
- ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital