MacAilea History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

As a native Irish surname, MacAilea is derived from the Gaelic name Mac Laoidhigh, which comes from the word "laoidh," which means "a poem;" or from Mac Giolla Iosa, which means "son of the devotee of Jesus." However, Lee is also a common indigenous name in England, many families of which have been established in Ireland since at least the 17th century. [1]

Early Origins of the MacAilea family

The surname MacAilea was first found in Connacht (Irish: Connachta, (land of the) descendants of Conn), where they were prominent in the west being anciently associated as hereditary physicians to the O'Flahertys.

Families with the McLees or McAlees spellings were traditionally doctors or physicians.

By the 16th century different branches had developed in Galway, in Leix, and in Munster at Cork and Limerick. The name in Gaelic was O'Laidhigh.

Early History of the MacAilea family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacAilea research. Another 121 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1253, 1650, 1734 and 1600 are included under the topic Early MacAilea History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacAilea Spelling Variations

Before widespread literacy came to Ireland, a name was often recorded under several different variations during the life of its bearer. Accordingly, numerous spelling variations were revealed in the search for the origin of the name MacAilea family name. Variations found include McAlea, McAlee, MacAlee, MacAlea, MacLee, McLee, MacLees, McLees, MacLeas, McLeas, O'Lees, O'Leas, Lee and many more.

Early Notables of the MacAilea family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early MacAilea Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the MacAilea family

Thousands of Irish families left for North American shores in the 19th century. These people were searching for a life unencumbered with poverty, hunger, and racial discrimination. Many arrived to eventually find such conditions, but many others simply did not arrive: victims of the diseased, overcrowded ships in which they traveled to the New World. Those who lived to see North American shores were instrumental in the development of the growing nations of Canada and the United States. A thorough examination of passenger and immigration lists has disclosed evidence of many early immigrants of the name MacAilea: Hugh O'Lee, who settled in Maryland in 1658; William McLea, who arrived in New York in 1775; James McLea, who settled in Savannah Georgia in 1821; Biddy Lees, who arrived in St. John, N.B. in 1834 aboard the Brig ".



The MacAilea Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fide et fortitudine
Motto Translation: By fidelity and fortitude.


  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)


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