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.
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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...More...
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