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Introduction

Edgar, the Aetheling, was the son of Prince Edward of the ancient and royal Saxon House of Wessex and his mother, Agatha, was the daughter of Henry II, emperor of Germany.

Edgar, his mother Agatha, and his two sisters Margaret and Christina, came to England to the court of Edward the Confessor, bringing with them a large number of Hungarian attendants.

Edgar, the Aetheling, had in his own person the Anglo-Saxon claim to the crown of England, but before he could act, William, Duke of Normandy, landed an army in England, gained the throne, and was crowned in London before the end of the year 1066.

Edgar abandoned his claim to the throne and swore loyalty to William at Berkhamstead on December 25, 1066. In return, William gave Edgar an earldom with large possessions.

Edgar later became suspicious of William, and taking his two sisters, his mother Agatha, and their attendants, fled England and sailed for Scotland. High winds drove their ship into the Firth of Forth at St. Margaret's Hope, Queenferry, Scotland. They were received by King Malcolm II, Canmore of Scotland.

King Malcolm II was the son of King Duncan of Scotland. King Duncan had been killed in a battle with MacBeth. Afterwards, Malcolm II defeated MacBeth and took the Scottish crown as Malcolm II, Canmore.

Later, King Malcolm offered his hand to Princess Margaret, daughter of Agatha, and sister of Edgar. Margaret accepted and became the Queen of Scotland.

The Garoich

The Garoich is a fertile district in Aberdeenshire. It is bounded on the south by the river Don, which separates the Garoich from Mar, on the east and north by Formartine and the hills of Foundland, and on the west by the river Bogie. It is overlooked by the beautiful hill Bennaths. This district of the Garioch was erected into an earldom by King Malcolm in favor of his brother, David, Earl of Huntingdon, about 1160.


Lands of Lesslyn in the Garioch

Bartholomew:  Founder of our Lessley Name

Among the noblemen who traveled from Hungary to England then on to Scotland with Edgar, Agatha and family was Bartholomew. He became Queen Margaret's most trusted assistant. King Malcolm, Canmore, appointed him governor of the Edinburg Castle, honored him with the dignity of knighthood, and gave him large grants of land in Fife, Angus, the Mearns, and Aberdeenshire.

According to tradition, King Malcolm promised Bartholomew all hereditary rights to all land within a radius of one mile where he was forced to stop and feed his horse on a journey, starting at Deinfermline and proceeding northward. He first stopped at Frechil in Fife, next at Innerlessad in Angus, then at Feskie in the Mearns, and last at Cuskine in Mar. His horse failed him in the Garioch. On his return, the king asked him where he had left his horse, and he answered in metrical style,

"Between a lesse ley and a mair
My horse it tyrd and stopped there."

The king replied in the same metrical style,

"Lord Lesse ley shalt thou be
And thy heirs after thee."

and gave him the grant of land.

Bartholomew later married Beatrix, sister of King Malcolm and became the king's brother-in-law.

From the "Genealogist of Tree of the Royal Family of Scotland", by John Brown of Scotland, published in March 1792, comes the following:

"Beatrix, daughter of King Duncan and sister of Malcolm II, Canmore, married Bartholomew of whom all the Lesleys in Scotland are descended."

From this union came many noble and famous men who have risen to great splendor and wealth from distinguished service or intermarriages with other noble houses in not only Scotland but France, Sweden, Germany, Russia, and Austria.

The land of Lesslyn in the Garioch about 19 miles north of Aberdeen is a fine agricultural area of Scotland. No doubt, this is where Bartholomew built his castle. Bartholomew was the first possessor of the land of Lesslyn.

Founder of the family name, Bartholomew died as an old man about 1121 and was succeeded by his son Malcolm. Malcolm died about 1176 and was succeeded by his son Norman, about 1248.

Norman married a daughter of Stuart, Earl of Lion. They had issue:

Norina -succeeded.

Leonard

Bartholomew


Norina succeeded Norman and married Catherine Muir. His issue:

Norman - succeeded.

Leonard

William

Norman, the fifth possessor of the land of Lesslyn, was the first to use the family surname as he styled it in most public documents as "Sir Norman de Lesslyn" and "dominus de Lesley". He married the daughter and heiress of Watson of Rothes. He died about 1320.

Andrew - succeeded.



Balquhain

Sir Andrew de Lesslyn succeeded his father in 1320. He received several baronies through the rights of this wife, Mary Abernethy. He was the sixth possessor of the land of Lesslyn and conveyed to his son George the Baronies of Balquhain. He also obtained from King David II a charter under the great seal, making all the lands into one free barony called the Barony of Balquhain. George became the first Baron of Balquhain.


George Lessley, First Earl of Rothes

King Robert Bruce granted a charter to his nephew, Randolph, Earl of Moray, of all the king's land in Moray as they were held by Alexander, King of Scotland, together with all the other adjacent lands contained within the limits and boundaries, beginning at the river Spey where it falls into the sea and ascending by the same river, comprehending the lands of Fochabers, Rolhenayks, Roths, Bakarm, and other lands. It was granted in 1312. The first Earl of Rothes was George Lessley. George, the son of Norman de Lessley, was born about 1417 and through his father and mother was descended from both the royal families of Bruce and Stewart. He was created Earl of Rothes by King James II by charter of March 20, 1457.

The Lesleys of Rothes and Balquhain became the principal branches of the family.

The Lesleys of Ballybay North Ireland are a branch of the family of the Earl of Rothes.

The Leslie House in County Antrim, North Ireland, descends from the Ballybay branch.

The Lesleys of Tarbet in Ireland descend from the Wardis branch of the family of Balquhain.

The Lesleys of Glassbough of Ireland descend from the Wardis branch of the Barons of Balquhain.

 

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Last updated March 26, 2002