Show ContentsMacLeish History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The sea-swept Hebrides islands and the west coast of Scotland, made up the ancient Dalriadan kingdom, the ancestral home of the MacLeish family. Their name comes from a devotion to Christianity. The Gaelic form of the name is M'A'Lios, which is a shortened form of Mac Giolla Iosa, meaning on of the servant of Jesus. [1] Cleish Castle is a 16th-century tower house in Kinross-shire, Scotland, west of the hamlet of Cleish.

Early Origins of the MacLeish family

The surname MacLeish was first found in Dumfriesshire where "Mychael M'Cleish or M'CIeisch was tenant of the Brewland cum le stallage' in Dumfriesshire in 1376." [2]

"Thomas M'Cleche was a voter in parish of Qwilton (Coylton), 1514, and Michaile M'Cleys, witness in Carrik, 1514. Duncan M'Cleish was servant to Dwgall M'Dugall in Deweldik, 1588, another Duncan M'Cleiche was admitted burgess of Glasgow, 1589, and a third Duncan M'Cleishe, burgess freeman in 1627." [2]

Early History of the MacLeish family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacLeish research. Another 149 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1580, 1613, 1638, 1665, 1686, 1745, 1797, 1803, 1806, 1811, 1844, 1870 and 1872 are included under the topic Early MacLeish History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacLeish Spelling Variations

Many spelling variations of MacLeish have been recorded over the years, including These are the result of the medieval practice of spelling according to sound and repeated translation between Gaelic and English. MacLeish, MacCleish, MacLise, MacLish, MacGillies, MacGleish, MacGillis, MacLeash and many more.

Early Notables of the MacLeish family

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Robert M'Gleish, burgess of Irvine, 1686; and John M'Cleish, burgess, 1745. [2] Daniel MacLise (1806-1870), historical painter, was the son of Alexander McLeish, McLish, McClisse, or McLise, a Scottish highlander, once a private soldier in the Elgin fencibles, but at the time of the artist's birth engaged in tanning or shoemaking at Cork, where his regiment had been quartered in 1797. On 24 Dec. in that year Alexander McLish married Rebecca Buchanan, 'daughter of Mrs. Buchanan, Almshouse,' as she is described in the register of the presbyterian (now unitarian) church, Princes Street, Cork, where...
Another 208 words (15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacLeish Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the MacLeish family

Many who arrived from Scotland settled along the east coast of North America in communities that would go on to become the backbones of the young nations of the United States and Canada. In the American War of Independence, many settlers who remained loyal to England went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Their descendants later began to recover the lost Scottish heritage through events such as the highland games that dot North America in the summer months. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the MacLeish family emigrate to North America: Anne McLeish settled in Pennsylvania in 1833; George and Catherine McGillis settled in Pennsylvania in 1773.

Contemporary Notables of the name MacLeish (post 1700) +

  • Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982), American poet, three time Pulitzer prize winner, 1933 and 1953 for Poetry and 1959 for Drama and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, oldest son of Andrew MacLeish
  • Lieutenant Kenneth MacLeish USN (1894-1918), American officer and aviator in the United States Navy during World War I, posthumous recipient of the Navy Cross for his combat actions, eponym of the destroyer USS MacLeish (DD-220), youngest son of Andrew MacLeish
  • Andrew MacLeish (1838-1928), Scottish-born, American businessman and benefactor, co-founder of the University of Chicago, great-grandfather of Bruce MacLeish Dern, the Academy Award nominated film actor
  • Roderick “Eric” MacLeish (b. 1952), American lawyer, known for representing hundreds of sexual abuse victims in the Boston Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal
  • Richard George "Rick" MacLeish (1950-2016), Canadian professional NHL ice hockey forward who played from 1970 to 1984
  • Bruce MacLeish Dern (b. 1936), American two-time Academy Award nominated actor from Winnetka, Illinois, known for Nebraska (2013), The Hateful Eight (2015), The 'Burbs (1989) and Django Unchained (2012)

  1. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. 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) on Facebook