Lessley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
The ancient Pictish-Scottish family that first used the name Lessley lived in the barony of Leslie in the county of Aberdeen. The surname Lessley belongs to the category of habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.
Early Origins of the Lessley family
The surname Lessley 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.
Early History of the Lessley family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lessley 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 Lessley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Lessley Spelling Variations
The arts of spelling and translation were yet in their infancies when surnames began, so there are an enormous number of spelling variations of the names in early Scottish records. This is a particular problem with Scottish names because of the numerous times a name might have been loosely translated to English from Gaelic and back. Lessley has been spelled Leslie, Lesley, Lessely, Lessley, Lesslie and others.
Early Notables of the Lessley 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 Lessley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Lessley family to Ireland
Some of the Lessley 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.
Lessley migration to the United States +
This oppression forced many Scots to leave their homelands. Most of these chose North America as their destination. Although the journey left many sick and poor, these immigrants were welcomed the hardy with great opportunity. Many of these settlers stood up for their newfound freedom in the American War of Independence. More recently, Scots abroad have recovered much of their collective heritage through highland games and other patriotic functions and groups. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has located various settlers bearing the name Lessley:
Lessley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
- David Lessley, aged 24, who arrived in New York in 1774 
Lessley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
- Edward Lessley, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840 
Lessley Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
- Walter Lessley, aged 25, who arrived in America from Panama, Central America, in 1917
- William Lessley, aged 23, who arrived in America, in 1924
Contemporary Notables of the name Lessley (post 1700) +
- Elgin Lessley (1883-1944), American hand-crank cameraman of the silent film era, known for his special effects in The Playhouse (1921) and Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
Related Stories +
- ^ 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)