Lesly History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
The ancestors of the Lesly family were part of an ancient Scottish tribe called the Picts. They lived in the barony of Leslie in the county of Aberdeen. The surname Lesly belongs to the category of habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.
Early Origins of the Lesly family
The surname Lesly 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." 
It is generally believed 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. 
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." 
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. " 
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."  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.
Important Dates for the Lesly family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lesly 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 Lesly History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Lesly Spelling Variations
In medieval Scotland, names were more often spelled according to sound than any regular set of rules. An enormous number of spelling variations were the result. Over the years, the name Lesly has been spelled Leslie, Lesley, Lessely, Lessley, Lesslie and others.
Early Notables of the Lesly 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 of Clogher, known as the "fighting bishop" for his resistance to the Irish rebellion of 1641 and the parliamentarian forces; and...
Another 71 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Lesly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Lesly family to Ireland
Some of the Lesly family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 86 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Lesly migration to the United States
In such difficult times, Ireland, Australia, and North America looked like better homes for many Scots. The trips were expensive and grueling, but also rewarding, as the colonies were havens for those unwelcome in the old country. That legacy did not die easily, though, and many were forced to fight for their freedom in the American War of Independence. The Scottish legacy has resurface in more recent times, though, through Clan societies, highland games, and other organizations. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the old Scottish name of Lesly:
Lesly Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
- Peter Lesly, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773 
Lesly Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
- Eliz. Lesly, aged 26, who landed in America, in 1896
Lesly Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
- Thomas Lesly, aged 46, who immigrated to America, in 1906
- Lesly, aged 37, who immigrated to the United States from Asderory, Ireland, in 1907
Contemporary Notables of the name Lesly (post 1700)
- Mark Lesly (b. 1959), American actor, best known for his role in The Wanderers
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
- ^ Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. Print.
- ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- ^ 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)
- ^ 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)