As a native Irish surname, McCleese 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 McCleese family
The surname McCleese 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. The McLees or McAlees 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 McCleese family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McCleese research.Another 121 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1253, 1600, 1650, and 1734 are included under the topic Early McCleese History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
McCleese Spelling Variations
Just like the English language, the Gaelic language of Ireland
was not standardized in the Middle Ages. Therefore, one's name was often recorded under several different spellings during the life of its bearer. Spelling variations
revealed in the search for the origins of the McCleese family name include McAlea, McAlee, MacAlee, MacAlea, MacLee, McLee, MacLees, McLees, MacLeas, McLeas, O'Lees, O'Leas, Lee and many more.
Early Notables of the McCleese family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early McCleese Notables in all our PDF Extended History products
and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the McCleese family to the New World and Oceana
left their homeland in astonishing numbers during the 19th century in search of a better life. Although individual reasons vary, most of these Irish families
suffered from extreme poverty, lack of work opportunities, and exorbitant rents in their homeland. Many decided to travel to Australia
or North America in the hopes of finding greater opportunities and land. The Irish immigrants that came to North America initially settled on the East Coast, often in major centers such as Boston or New York. But like the many other cultures to settle in North America, the Irish traveled to almost any region they felt held greater promise; as a result, many Irish with gold fever moved all the way out to the Pacific coast. Others before that time left for land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula, or the Maritimes as United Empire Loyalists, for many Irish did choose to side with the English during the American War of Independence
. The earliest wave of Irish migration, however, occurred during the Great Potato Famine
of the 1840s. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists has revealed many people bearing the McCleese name:
McCleese Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
- Henry McCleese, aged 64, who emigrated to Norfolk, Virginia, in 1918
The McCleese 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.