Leigh History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Leigh family brought their name to England in the wave of migration after the Norman Conquest of 1066. 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. [1] The English Leigh family is descended from the Norman Leigh family. The family name Leigh 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 Leigh family

The surname Leigh 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 Leigh family

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

Leigh Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years the English language had no fixed system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations occurred commonly in Anglo Norman surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Leigh were recorded, including Leigh, Lee, Lea, Legh, Leghe, Ligh, Lighe, Leyie, Ley and many more.

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

Ireland Migration of the Leigh family to Ireland

Some of the Leigh 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 Leigh migration to the United States +

The unstable environment in England at this time caused numerous families to board ships and leave in search of opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad in places like Ireland, Australia, and particularly the New World. The voyage was extremely difficult, however, and only taken at great expense. The cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels caused many to arrive diseased and starving, not to mention destitute from the enormous cost. Still opportunity in the emerging nations of Canada and the United States was far greater than at home and many went on to make important contributions to the cultures of their adopted countries. An examination of many early immigration records reveals that people bearing the name Leigh arrived in North America very early:

Leigh Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • George Henry Leigh, who settled in Virginia in 1607
  • Henry Leigh, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1607 [5]
  • John Leigh, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1635 [5]
  • George Leigh, who settled in Virginia in 1637
  • Georg Leigh, who landed in Virginia in 1637 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Leigh Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • David Leigh, who landed in Virginia in 1704 [5]
  • Mary Leigh, who arrived in Virginia in 1715 [5]
  • Egerton Leigh, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1768
  • Austin Leigh, who arrived in Dominica in 1771 [5]
Leigh Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Sir Egerton Leigh, aged 52, who arrived in New York in 1812 [5]
  • John Leigh, who settled in Baltimore in 1834
  • Sebastian Leigh, who was naturalized in Philadelphia in 1839
  • Alice Leigh, aged 50, who arrived in Missouri in 1846 [5]
  • Sam Leigh, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Leigh migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Leigh Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Margaret Leigh, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1818

Australia Leigh migration to Australia +

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

Leigh Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Joseph Leigh, English convict who was convicted in Liverpool, Lancashire, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 3rd November 1833, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Mr. Thomas Leigh, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Blenheim" on 11th March 1837, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • William H Leigh a surgeon, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "South Australian" in 1837 [8]
  • James Leigh, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rajasthan" in 1838 [9]
  • Mr. James Mayn Leigh, (b. 1820), aged 21, Cornish shephard, from Penzance, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "China" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 7th September 1841 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Leigh 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:

Leigh Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Ellen Jane Leigh, (b. 1858), aged Infant, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Mystery" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 29th March 1859 [11]
  • Mrs. Mary Ann Leigh, (b. 1825), aged 33, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Mystery" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 29th March 1859 [11]
  • Mr. Zebulon Leigh, (b. 1826), aged 32, British agricultural smith and farrier travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Mystery" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 29th March 1859 [11]
  • Mr. John M. Leigh, (b. 1855), aged 3, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Mystery" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 29th March 1859 [11]
  • Miss Mary Ann Leigh, (b. 1857), aged 1 year 9 months, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Mystery" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 29th March 1859 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Leigh (post 1700) +

  • Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), Lady Olivier, born Vivian Mary Hartley, and English two-time Best Actress Academy Award winning actress, best known for playing "southern belles": Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  • Zelie Leigh, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from California, 1956; Presidential Elector for California, 1960
  • John W. Leigh, American politician, Member of Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from Philadelphia County, 1875-80
  • Walter Leigh, American politician, Mayor of Augusta, Georgia, 1815-17
  • John P. Leigh, American politician, Postmaster at Norfolk, Virginia, 1852-53
  • John Leigh, American politician, Member of North Carolina House of Commons from Edgecombe County, 1790-96
  • Jesse S. Leigh, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Washington County, 1839
  • Janet Leigh (1927-2004), American Democrat politician, Actress; Honored guest, Democratic National Convention, 1960
  • Jack P. Leigh, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Texas, 1972 (alternate), 1988
  • Gradelle Leigh, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Alaska Territory, 1948
  • ... (Another 13 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Albert K Leigh, British Able Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [12]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Evan Arthur Leigh, English 1st Class Passenger from Yewbarrow Hall, Grange-Over-Sands, Lancashire, England, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [13]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Malcolm Hedrick Leigh, American Gunner's Mate Third Class from North 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 [14]


The Leigh 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 Leigh +

  • 3284 Hezekiah Leigh (also Lee) 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. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/aurora
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 15th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/blenheim
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The SOUTH AUSTRALIAN 1837-1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1837SouthAustralian.htm
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RAJASTHAN 1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1838Rajasthan.htm
  10. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_bounty_nsw.pdf
  11. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  12. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  13. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  14. ^ 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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