MacAlees History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
As a native Irish surname, MacAlees 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. 
Early Origins of the MacAlees family
The surname MacAlees 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 MacAlees family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacAlees research. Another 121 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1253, 1650, 1734 and 1600 are included under the topic Early MacAlees History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacAlees Spelling Variations
Pronunciation, rather than spelling, guided scribes and church officials when recording names during the Middle Ages. This practice often resulted in one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname MacAlees are preserved in these old documents. The various spellings of the name that were found include McAlea, McAlee, MacAlee, MacAlea, MacLee, McLee, MacLees, McLees, MacLeas, McLeas, O'Lees, O'Leas, Lee and many more.
Early Notables of the MacAlees family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early MacAlees Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the MacAlees family
A massive amount of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century for North America and Australia in hopes of finding more opportunities and an escape from discrimination and oppression. A great portion of these migrants arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent. Although they were generally poor and destitute, and, therefore, again discriminated against, these Irish people were heartily welcomed for the hard labor involved in the construction of railroads, canals, roadways, and buildings. Many others were put to work in the newly established factories or agricultural projects that were so essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the world. The Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s initiated the largest wave of Iris immigration. Early North American immigration and passenger lists have revealed a number of people bearing the name MacAlees or a variant listed above: 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 ".
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The MacAlees 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.
- ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)