Clan Leslie

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Clan Leslie
Mac an Fheisdeir[1]
Clan member crest badge - Clan Leslie.svg
Crest: A demi griffin Proper, armed, beaked and winged Or
Motto Grip fast[1]
Profile
Region Lowlands
District Aberdeenshire
Plant badge Rue[1]
Chief
LeslieEarlOfRothes.png
The Hon. Alexander Leslie[1]
Seat Whitefield House
Historic seat Leslie Castle

Clan Leslie is a Lowland Scottish clan.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

Map of Scotland showing the district of Aberdeenshire, where the Leslies lived.

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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[2] Bartolf's son was named Malcolm and was made constable of the royal Inverury Castle, which he held for David II of Scotland.[2] His great-grandson was Sir Norman Lesley who acquired the lands of Fythkill in Fife, which were later called Lesley, in about 1282.[2]

14th to 15th centuries[edit]

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.[2] In 1391 Sir Norman Lesley believed that his only son, David, had been killed in the Crusades,[2] and therefore passed over his estates to his cousin, Sir George Lesley.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] At somepoint before 1458 he was then advanced to the title of Earl of Rothes.[2]

16th century[edit]

During the Anglo-Scottish Wars William Leslie, 3rd Earl of Rothes was killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.[2] George Leslie, 4th Earl of Rothes was one of the Scottish commissioners at the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots as heir to the throne of France in 1558.[2] George along with the Earl of Cascillus and two others died in mysterious circumstances, believed to be poisoning for refusing to allow the crown of Scotland to be settled on the Dauphin of France.[2] After this the Lesleys abandoned politics and took up careers as professional soldiers.[2]

17th century[edit]

During the 17th century Lesleys fought in Germany, France, Sweden and in the Baltic as mercenaries.[2] Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven fought on the Continent and then returned to Scotland to command the Covenanter army.[2] His seat was Balgonie Castle or the Tower of Balgonie, which he improved and extended.[2] Alexander Leslie won a great victory over the English royalists at the Battle of Newburn in 1640.[3] The career of Walter Leslie (1607–1667) was all in Europe, where in the Thirty Years War he rose to prominence after leading the assassination of the Imperial generalissimo Wallenstein and his coterie in 1634, becoming a field marshal and imperial count.[4] Another important member of the clan was David Leslie, Lord Newark who was also a Covenanter and defeated James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose at the Battle of Philiphaugh in 1645.[2] However he was later routed by the forces of Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar (1650).[2] David Leslie was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London where he remained until the restoration of 1660.[2]

Sir Alexander Leslie of Auchintool was a general in the Russian army and was Governor of Smolensk.[2] The seventh Earl of Rothes was created Duke of Rothes by Charles II in 1680.[2]

18th century[edit]

John Hamilton-Leslie, 9th Earl of Rothes was Vice Admiral of Scotland and governor of the royal Stirling Castle.[2] During the Jacobite rising of 1715 he supported the British government and commanded a regiment of cavalry at the Battle of Sheriffmuir.[2] He sold much of the clan estates but Leslie House near Fife remained the seat of the chiefly Earls until 1926.[2]

Castles and Great houses[edit]

Leslie Castle in 1989
  • The Bass, the original Clan Leslie wooden castle built in 1080–1085. 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.[5]
  • 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.[5]
  • Balquhain Castle in Aberdeenshire was held by the Leslies from 1340 but was sacked during a feud with the Clan Forbes in 1526.[5]
  • Balgonie Castle was acquired by Alexander Leslie in 1635.[5]
  • Leslie House in Fife was owned by the Leslies until 1919, when a major fire destroyed most of the house and its contents.[6]
  • Kininvie Manor House in the Spey Valley near Rothes. Has been held by the Leslies since 1521 and they apparently still own the property.[5] 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.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • Warthill Castle in Aberdeenshire passed to the Leslies in 1518 and is still owned by their descendants.[5]
  • Wardhouse in Aberdeenshire was held by the Leslies in the 16th century but later passed to the Clan Gordon.[5]
  • 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.

Clan Chief, the Earl of Rothes[edit]

From 1457 the Clan Chief of Clan Leslie also held the position of Earl of Rothes. The chiefship is currently held by the Earl's heir Alexander Leslie.[1]

See also[edit]

  • Scottish clan, includes a list of all recognised Scottish clans

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Clan Leslie Profile scotclans.com. Retrieved 2 December, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Way, George and Squire, Romily. (1994). Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). pp. 194 - 195.
  3. ^ Edward Furgol, 'Beating the Odds: Alexander Leslie's 1640 Campaign in England' in Steve Murdoch and Andrew Mackillop (eds.), Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experience c.1550-1900 (Leiden, 2002), pp. 33–59.
  4. ^ Worthington, David. Scots in Habsburg Service, 1618-1648, 2004, Brill, especially pp. 153-288, and see index. google books
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Coventry, Martin. (2008). Castles of the Clans: The Strongholds and Seats of 750 Scottish Families and Clans. pp. 328 - 330. ISBN 978-1-899874-36-1.
  6. ^ Clan Leslie Charitable Trust - Collection
  7. ^ Clan Leslie Charitable Trust - Collection
  8. ^ Sale ad [1] Retrieved May 8th 2013
  • Lesley Laureanus-A Latin History-Circa 1600.Scottish Records Office
  • The Leslie Family-Colonel Leslie-1860.
  • Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland.
  • The Muniments of the Leslies of Balquhain in Aberdeen University.
  • The Muniments of the Leslies of Warthill-at Warthill.

External links[edit]