McAleese History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

As a native Irish surname, McAleese 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 McAleese family

The surname McAleese 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 McAleese family

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

McAleese Spelling Variations

Names from the Middle Ages demonstrate many spelling variations. This is because the recording scribe or church official often decided as to how a person's name was spelt and in what language. Research into the name McAleese revealed many variations, including McAlea, McAlee, MacAlee, MacAlea, MacLee, McLee, MacLees, McLees, MacLeas, McLeas, O'Lees, O'Leas, Lee and many more.

Early Notables of the McAleese family (pre 1700)

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


United States McAleese migration to the United States +

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 McAleese:

McAleese Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James McAleese, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1837 [2]
  • Rob't McAleese, aged 24, who landed in America, in 1896
  • Sarah McAleese, aged 49, who immigrated to the United States, in 1896
McAleese Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Elizabeth McAleese, aged 3, who landed in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1907
  • Gretta McAleese, aged 5, who landed in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1907
  • Jamesina McAleese, aged 29, who immigrated to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1907
  • John McAleese, aged 7, who immigrated to America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1907
  • Rachel McAleese, aged 45, who settled in America from Tyrone, Ireland, in 1907
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada McAleese migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McAleese Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Miss. Mary McAleese, aged 4 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Tamarac" departing 26th May 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 11th July 1847 but she died on board [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name McAleese (post 1700) +

  • John James "Jack" McAleese (1878-1950), American Major League Baseball pitcher with the Chicago White Stockings in 1901
  • Mary Patricia McAleese (b. 1951), (née Leneghan) 8th President of Ireland (1997-2001), eponym of the Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge from County Meath to County Louth, Ireland
  • Martin McAleese (b. 1951), Irish former member of Seanad Éireann, husband of the former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese
  • Peter McAleese (b. 1942), British ex- paratrooper, ex-member of the SAS and author of the book No Mean Soldier
  • John Thomas McAleese (1949-2011), Scottish Army soldier who led an SAS team which stormed the Iranian embassy in London in May 1980 to end the Iranian Embassy siege
  • Shea McAleese (b. 1984), New Zealand field hockey player at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics
  • Anne Marie McAleese, presenter on BBC Radio Ulster in Northern Ireland


The McAleese 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)
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 85)


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