MacIlleese History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

As a native Irish surname, MacIlleese 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 MacIlleese family

The surname MacIlleese 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 MacIlleese family

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

MacIlleese Spelling Variations

People who were accounted for by scribes and church officials often had their name recorded many different ways because pronunciation was the only guide those scribes and church officials had to go by. This resulted in the problem of one person's name being recorded under several different variations, creating the illusion of more than one person. Among the many spelling variations of the surname MacIlleese that are preserved in archival documents are McAlea, McAlee, MacAlee, MacAlea, MacLee, McLee, MacLees, McLees, MacLeas, McLeas, O'Lees, O'Leas, Lee and many more.

Early Notables of the MacIlleese family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the MacIlleese family

A great mass of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century, seeking relief from various forms of social, religious, and economic discrimination. This Irish exodus was primarily to North America. If the migrants survived the long ocean journey, many unfortunately would find more discrimination in the colonies of British North America and the fledgling United States of America. These newly arrived Irish were, however, wanted as a cheap source of labor for the many large agricultural and industrial projects that were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the western world. Early immigration and passenger lists indicate many people bearing the MacIlleese name: 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 MacIlleese 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)


Houseofnames.com on Facebook