The annals of Scottish history reveal that Lesslay was first used as a name by descendants of the Pictish tribe of ancient Scotland
. The Lesslay family lived in the barony of Leslie in the county of Aberdeen. The surname Lesslay belongs to the category of habitation
names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.
Early Origins of the Lesslay family
The surname Lesslay 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 Lesslay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lesslay research.Another 353 words (25 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 Lesslay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Lesslay Spelling Variations
During the Middle Ages, there was no basic set of rules and scribes wrote according to sound. The correct spelling of Scottish names were further compromised after many haphazard translations from Gaelic to English and back. Spelling variations
of the name Lesslay include Leslie, Lesley, Lessely, Lessley, Lesslie and others.
Early Notables of the Lesslay 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 Lesslay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Lesslay family to Ireland
Some of the Lesslay family moved to Ireland
, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.Another 150 words (11 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 Lesslay family to the New World and Oceana
Scots left their country by the thousands to travel to Australia
and North America. Desperate for freedom and an opportunity to fend for themselves, many paid huge fees and suffered under terrible conditions on long voyages. Still, for those who made the trip, freedom and opportunity awaited. In North America, many fought their old English oppressors in the American War of Independence
. In recent years, Scottish heritage has been an increasingly important topic, as Clan
societies and other organizations have renewed people's interest in their history. An examination of passenger and immigration lists shows many early settlers bearing the name of Lesslay: 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.