Clan Leslie History
The family name comes from the Leslie lands of Aberdeenshire and was to become famous in Germany, Poland, France and Russia. An Hungarian noble named Bartholf (or Batholomew) settled in this area and in the 12th century one of his sons obtained a charter for the Barony of Lesly from William the Lion.
Sir Andrew de Lesly was one of the signatories when a letter, the Declaration of Arbroath, was sent to the Pope in 1320 asserting Scotland’s independence. When his son Walter died before gaining a son of his own the Battle of Harlaw resulted in 1411.
George de Lesly was the Leslys’ first Earl. His grandson, the 2nd Earl was killed at Flodden and the third Earl, also George, carried out a private family vendetta on the life of David Beaton, cardinal Archbishop of St Andrews. At the trial he was acquitted.
General Alexander Leslie of Balgonie fought for Gustavus Adolphus, the King of Sweden. He achieved great fame across Europe for his skills in war and returned to Scotland a Field Marshal. Commanding the Covenanters he captured Edinburgh Castle with a thousand men. With the Scots army he went into England in 1640 and defeated the King’s soldiers at Newburn. For this he was created Earl of Lewis by Charles I.
Even so, the most highly respected Leslie is said to be John Leslie, the Bishop of Ross, who was born in 1526. He was the most loyal of Mary, Queen of Scots’ supporters. It was John Leslie who wrote for her the famous ‘History of Scotland’
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