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


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.

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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.

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Leigh research. Another 503 words (36 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.

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Another 435 words (31 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Leigh Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Leigh family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 141 words (10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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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 came to Virginia in 1607
  • Henry Leigh, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1607
  • John Leigh, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1635
  • George Leigh settled in Virginia in 1637
  • Georg Leigh, who landed in Virginia in 1637


Leigh Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • David Leigh, who landed in Virginia in 1704
  • Mary Leigh, who arrived in Virginia in 1715
  • Egerton Leigh, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1768
  • Austin Leigh, who arrived in Dominica in 1771

Leigh Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Sir Egerton Leigh, aged 52, arrived in New York in 1812
  • John Leigh, who came to Baltimore in 1834
  • Sebastian Leigh, who was naturalized in Philadelphia in 1839
  • Alice Leigh, aged 50, arrived in Missouri in 1846
  • Sam Leigh, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851


Leigh Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Margaret Leigh, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1818

Leigh Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • William H Leigh a surgeon, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "South Australain" in 1837
  • James Leigh arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rajasthan" in 1838
  • Frederick Leigh arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Aden" in 1849
  • Sarah Leigh, aged 19, arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Florentia"

Leigh Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • John Leigh arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "SS British King" in 1884
  • Ellen Leigh arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "SS British King" in 1884
  • Herbert Leigh arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "SS British King" in 1884

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  • Janet Leigh (1927-2004), American Golden Globe winning actress, best known for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960)
  • Carolyn Leigh (1926-1983), American lyricist for Broadway, movies, and popular songs
  • Mitch Leigh (1928-2014), American composer, best known for the musical Man of La Mancha
  • 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)
  • Mr. Evan Arthur Leigh (d. 1915), English 1st Class Passenger from Yewbarrow Hall, Grange-Over-Sands, Lancashire, England, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking
  • Mr. Albert K Leigh, British Able Seaman, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking
  • Sir John Leigh (1884-1959), 1st Baronet, British mill-owner, newspaper-proprietor
  • Chandos Leigh (1791-1850), 1st Baron Leigh, founder of Stoneleigh Cricket Club
  • Mike Leigh (b. 1943), British well-known playwright and theatre director


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  • Hezekiah Leigh (also Lee) 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: Force avec vertu
Motto Translation: Strength with virtue.

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  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.

Other References

  1. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  2. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  4. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  5. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  6. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  7. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  8. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  10. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  11. ...

The Leigh Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Leigh 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 30 March 2016 at 08:54.

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