Clan Leslie

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Scotland Project > Scottish Clans > Clan Leslie


Welcome to Clan Leslie

Clan Leslie Team
Team Leader
Team MembersJackie Stoddard, Doug Straiton
Clan Chief: James Malcolm David Leslie, 22nd Earl of Rothes. Chief of the Clan Leslie. Succeeded his father in 2005.
Crest: A demi griffin Proper, armed, beaked and winged Or
Motto: Grip fast
Slogan/War Cry:
Region: Lowlands
Historic Seat:
Plant badge: Rue
Pipe music:
Gaelic name:

Clan Team

Team Goals

The focus of this team's work is to identify, improve and maintain profiles associated with the Lairds and Chiefs of Clan Leslie together with members bearing the name Leslie, the related families and those recognised as septs of Clan Leslie.

Team To Do List

This list will be developed by the Team. If you are working on a specific task, please list it here:

  • promoting the entries of those bearing the name Leslie on Wikitree.
  • ensuring entries appearing on Wikitree are as accurate as possible, correcting mistakes once spotted.
  • encouraging interest in and study of Clan Leslie.


Abernethy, from whom the Leslies, by marriage, obtained the estates of Rothes in Moray and Leslie in Fife, Bartholomew, Cairney, Laing, Leslie, Lesley, Lessely, Lessley, Lesslie

Clan History

The progenitor of the Clan Leslie is claimed to be a man named Bartolf who was a nobleman from Hungary, who came to Scotland in 1067. Bartolf was allegedly in the retinue of Edgar the Ætheling, brother of Saint Margaret of Scotland, who was later the queen of Malcolm III of Scotland. Bartolf was said to be a man of intellect and bravery and as a result Malcolm III made him governor of the royal Edinburgh Castle and gave him estates in Fife, Angus, Mearns and Aberdeenshire. It is said that Bartolf helped the queen across a dangerous river on a horse and that Bartolf told her to "grip fast", which is where the chief's motto comes from.

Bartolf established himself in the Garioch district of Aberdeenshire, at a place then known as Lesselyn. At Lesselyn he built a castle and it is from there that the name evolved into Lesley, and the various spelling variations. Bartolf's son was named Malcolm and was made constable of the royal Inverury Castle, which he held for David II of Scotland. His great-grandson was Sir Norman Lesley who acquired the lands of Fythkill in Fife, which were later called Lesley, in about 1282.

The chiefly line of the Clan Leslie passed to a junior branch of the family, from who the present Earl of Rothes descends, in obscure circumstances. In 1391 Sir Norman Lesley believed that his only son, David, had been killed in the Crusades, and therefore passed over his estates to his cousin, Sir George Lesley. Then in 1398, after George Lesley had taken possession of the castle and lands, David returned from the Crusades and claimed possession of his estate. The family managed to resolve the matter peacefully and in 1445 Sir George Lesley's grandson, also called George, was created a Lord of Parliament as Lord Lesley of Leven, and all of his lands were united into the barony of Ballinbreich. At somepoint before 1458 he was then advanced to the title of Earl of Rothes

Historical records of the family of Leslie from 1067 to 1868-69. Collected from public records and authentic private sources" 1869 by Colonel Leslie KH of Balquhain Vol 111 p3 :

Sir Hamelin Leslie, son of Sir George Leslie, first Baron of Balquhain, by his wife Elizabeth Keith of Inverugie, succeeded his father as second Baron of Balquhain in 1351.

Hamelinus de Leslie had a passport or safe-conduct, for himself and two knights, to go into England as far as the city of Canterbury, with liberty to remain there till the ensuing Michaelmas, and then to return to his own country dated at Westminster, the 10th November 1362.

Sir Hamelin Leslie married Ann Maxwell, daughter of Lord Maxwell of Carlaverock, whose successors became Earls of Nithsdale. By her he had issue

I. ANDREW, who succeeded as third Baron of Balquhain.

II. A Daughter, married to the Laird of Baldathsche.

Sir Hamelin Leslie died in 1378.

Clan Branches

Other Names Associated with the Clan

Allied Clans

Rival Clans

Clan Research and Free Space Pages

Source Material

Image Credits and Acknowledgements

Information below this line should be summarized and integrated into this team page. Detailed information should be moved to additional Clan pages.

Clan Leslie

Castles and Great Houses

Pitcaple Castle from late 15th century. Core, a Leslie tower (Leslies were granted lands in 1457) with open parapet; reconstructed early 17th century as a substantial Z-plan chateau of four storeys, five for the round angle towers, all harled, crowstepped and very select. William Burn added a two-storey extension to the south-west with a new entrance porch and turret in the angle in 1830. Service court and other additions including red granite Corinthian columns of 1870 in hall by Duncan MacMillan. Burn also redid concave tower and delightfully spiky turret roofs.

Balquhain Castle in Aberdeenshire was held by the Leslies from 1340 but was sacked during a feud with the Clan Forbes in 1526.


  • The Bass at Inverurie, was the first castle built in the Regality of the Garrioch. The ancestors of the Leslie's were the appointed Constables of the Castle until around 1240. The remains can still be seen down by the River Ury in Inverurie next to the Celtic burial mounds.
  • Leslie Castle in Aberdeenshire is a 17th-century tower house but stands on the site of an earlier fortification.[5] The Leslies held the lands from at least the eleventh or twelfth century and there was once a courtyard and moat which have now gone.
  • Castle Leslie in County Monaghan Ulster, Ireland. Built in the 17th century, the castle and surrounding 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) estate is still a Leslie residence, and an exclusive guest house, spa and school for cuisine. In 2002 Sir Paul McCartney married Heather Mills in the Family Church just adjacent to the castle.
  • Fetternear Palace in Aberdeenshire, the Leslies built a tower house here in the 1560s.[5] The castle passed to the Abercrombies in 1627 but later returned to the Leslies who kept there the Fetternear Banner, which was a pre-Reformation banner of the fraternity of the Holy Blood.
  • Balgonie Castle was acquired by Alexander Leslie in 1635.
  • Leslie House in Fife was owned by the Leslies until 1919, when a major fire destroyed most of the house and its contents.
  • Kininvie Manor House in the Spey Valley near Rothes. Has been held by the Leslies since 1521 and they apparently still own the property. Originally part of the Balquhain Leslies' estates, then purchased by the second son of the Earl of Rothes (1936), currently the home of Colonel David Leslie.
  • Lickleyhead Castle in Aberdeenshire, built circa 1450, is still a Leslie family home, but in the spring of 2013 it was put up for sale.
  • Warthill Castle in Aberdeenshire passed to the Leslies in 1518 and is still owned by their descendants.
  • Wardhouse in Aberdeenshire was held by the Leslies in the 16th century but later passed to the Clan Gordon.
  • Rothie House - owned by a cadet of Lord Rothes, the Crawford-Leslie family. The family died out after the only son was killed on active service at the Battle of Anzio in Italy in 1944.

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Hello, I am looking for information on the ancestry of Scots, who lived in the area now known as Estonia, which in the 17th century was part of Sweden. George Leslie is my forefather (11th generation). I am a Finn with roots on my maternal grandparents side in the families of German origin ( Lūbeck, Danzig) in Baltic countries and Viborg on the Carelian Isthmus. It seems a lot of Finnish families have a connection with the Leslies, but their descendance before arrival to Estonia remains unsolved.

The numbers refer to the site of the University of St Andrews Institute of Scottish Historical Reseach containing the Database for Scotland, Scandinavia and Northern European Biographies. Sorry for the VERY long comment, but the heart of the matter is that I would like to join the project.

Kirsti Menna

LESLIE, GEORGE, JÜRGEN Nationality: SCOT, Region ABERDEEN Social status BURGESS Probably a close relative of Peter Leslie [SSNE 8334] († 1617) and Alexander Leslie [SSNE 4947], George (Jürgen) Leslie was born in Aberdeen, although we have no exact date. At some point he migrated to Estonia where he became a burgess in Dorpat (Tartto) in 1624. In the period from 15 September 1623 to 22 July 1624, he - according to a list of merchants' names – did business in the Russian border town of Pleskau (today Pskow), an important base for trade with Russia since Hanseatic times. In 1626, the Swedish king, Gustav II Adolf, awarded George Leslie the estate of Sackhof (Saka John Watson came from Dumfries to NARVA Estonia belonging then to SWEDEN Arrived 1588-01-01 Departed (died)1605-12-31 Capacity MERCHANT BURGESS, purpose CIVIC, COMMERCE, TRADE

Cathrina SSNE 8339,. Elisabeth SSNE 8337 and Maria SSNE 8333] Watson, who married George Leslie SSNE 7309. They had six children : Alexander SSNE 7201, Jochen, Anna , Catharina, Elisabeth SSNE 7202 and a fourth unknown daughter. Daughters of Johan Watson SSNE 8335 and Elisabeth Agnes SSNE 8336 Both Alexander and Anna married to the Maydell family belonging to the Baltic- German nobility. Alexander’s daughter, Marie Elisabeth, married a Swedosh nobleman, Gustaf Erik Wassman, and his son, Alexander Wilhelm, Catharina Magdalena de St Paul des Estangs. ALEXANDER LESLIE SSNE 4947] Arrived 1633-02-23 SWEDEN, NARVA Departed 1644-02-12 Capacity BURGESS, purpose CIVIC, TRADE Born in Aberdeen, Alexander Leslie was probably a close relative of Peter Leslie, perhaps his brother. Like him a merchant, Alexander Leslie took the oath of citizenship in Narva on 23 February 1633. Probably soon after, he married a certain Maria Suborg, whose origin is unknown. With her he became father of two daughters, Maria Leslie († after 1678) and Anna Leslie († 1695). In 1644, he died and was buried in the German church of Narva on 12 February 1644.

Alexander Leslie gained great respect from his fellow citizens, who appointed him in 1636 to procurator of the estate of Robert Udnie [SSNE 4238], a Scot who died in Reval in October 1635.

PETER LESLIE Arrived 1590-01-01SWEDEN, NARVA Departed 1617-12-05 Capacity BURGESS, MERCHANT, purpose CIVIC, COMMERCE, TRADE

Presumably born in the 1570s, Peter Leslie grew up in Aberdeen. When he reached adulthood, he emigrated to Estonia and settled in Narva, being a merchant. His decision to leave Scotland may well have been promoted by a friend who had emigrated to Narva a few years before him. This friend could have been the Scottish merchant Johann Watson [SSNE 8335] who as early as 1588 had been residing in Narva. With his wife Elisabeth Agnes [SSNE 8336] († 1640) Johann Watson lived in a stately house, which in 1590 he had bought from the alderman and mayor Dirich Wernecke († 1645), a former citizen of the Hanseatic city of Salzwedel, who married Elisabeth's sister Catherina Watson [SSNE 8339] († 1652). Around 1620, Peter Leslie's widow Elisabeth Watson entered into a second marriage in Dorpat with the Scottish merchant Wilhelm Thomson [SSNE 8338] († 1654), a Scot who was born in Dumfries.

posted by Kirsti (Ilvonen) Menna
edited by Kirsti (Ilvonen) Menna

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