In Scottish history, few names go farther back than Leslay, whose ancestors lived among the clans of the Pictish tribe. The ancestors of the Leslay family lived in the barony of Leslie in the county of Aberdeen. The surname Leslay belongs to the category of habitation
names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.
Early Origins of the Leslay family
The surname Leslay was first found in Aberdeenshire
(Gaelic: Siorrachd Obar Dheathain), a historic county, and present day Council Area of Aberdeen, located in the Grampian region of northeastern Scotland
, where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated on the lands of Leslie. "This place is said to have derived its name from a family who held the lands so early as the eleventh century." CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
It is generally believed the the family was descended from Bartholomew Leslyn, son of Walter de Leslyn, a Flemish knight who attended Queen Margaret when she arrived to marry King Malcolm of Scotland in 1067.
According to legend, the wife of King Malcolm III was thrown from her horse while crossing a river and nearly drowned, but Leslyn, gripping the horses bridle, saved her. She frequently cautioned him to 'grip fast' and afterwards commanded that he retain those words as his family motto. He later married the sister of Malcolm Ceanmore, and so was appointed Governor of Edinburgh Castle and made Lord Leslie. CITATION[CLOSE]
Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. Print.
Malcolm Leslie of Garioch in Aberdeenshire, son of Bartolf, received a feudal charter confirming his lands from a grant made to his name-father, Lord Leslie. Malcolm's grandson, Sir Andrew de Lesly, was one of the signatories of the 1320 'Arbroath Declaration of Independence' to the Pope, which affirmed Scotland's sovereignty and included the words: "as long as one hundred Scotsmen still live they would never submit to English rule."
Another source claims the family "trace their origin to Bartholomew, a Flemish chief, who settled with his followers in the district of Garioch, in Aberdeenshire, in the reign of William the Lion. He took the name of De Lesley from the place where he settled. The heralds, however, have an old legend representing the first man of the family as having acquired distinction and a name at once, by overcoming a knight in battle, at a spot between a less lee (meadow) and a greater." CITATION[CLOSE]
Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
Whichever origin the reader chooses, all agree that one of the first records of the family was "Earl David, brother of William the Lion, granted c. 1171-1199 the lands of Lesslyn in the Garioch to Malcolm son of Bartholf. " CITATION[CLOSE]
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)
As far as the origin of the Coat of Arms is concerned perhaps this quote will shed some light: "Sir Norman de Lechelyn of Aberdeenshire rendered homage in 1296. His seal bears six shields in a circle conjoined in base, each charged with 3 round buckles on a bend." CITATION[CLOSE]
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) It's a little different that the one anciently used by the family but it is significant in that it notes that the family was using a variant of the same as far back as the 13th century.
Early History of the Leslay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Leslay research.Another 309 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1411, 1562, 1680, 1340, 1680, 1850, 1711, 1527, 1596, 1580, 1661, 1635, 1661, 1661, 1571, 1671, 1641, 1650, 1722, 1580, 1661, 1641, 1607, 1667, 1600, 1682, 1661, 1797 and are included under the topic Early Leslay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Leslay Spelling Variations
Although Medieval Scotland
lacked a basic set of spelling rules, which meant that scribes recorded names according to their sounds it was not uncommon for the names of a father and son to be recorded differently. As a result, there are many spelling variations
of Scottish single names. Leslay has been written Leslie, Lesley, Lessely, Lessley, Lesslie and others.
Early Notables of the Leslay family (pre 1700)
Notable amongst the Clan
at this time was John Lesley (1527-1596) Scottish bishop, historian, and statesman, ecclesiastical adviser to Mary Queen
of Scots; Henry Leslie (1580-1661) Scottish-born, Church of Ireland
Bishop of Down and Connor (1635 to 1661) and briefly Bishop of Meath (1661); John Leslie (1571-1671), a Scottish royalist bishop... Another 92 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Leslay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Leslay family to Ireland
Some of the Leslay family moved to Ireland
, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.Another 85 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 Leslay family to the New World and Oceana
Thousands of Scots left their home country to travel to Ireland
, or to cross the Atlantic for the North American colonies. The difficult crossing was an enormous hurdle, but those who survived found freedom and opportunity in ample measure. Some Scots even fought for their freedom in the American War of Independence
. This century, their ancestors have become aware of the illustrious history of the Scots in North America and at home through Clan
societies and other organizations. Passenger and immigration lists show many early and influential immigrants bearing the name Leslay: Nicholas Lesley, who settled in Virginia in 1650; Margaret Leslie settled in New Jersey in 1685; John Leslie settled in the Barbadoes in 1678 with his son.