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It’s December 2014 and I have just received an email from a Richard Leask via Mac Leask giving some interesting information about the area in Scotland the Clan used to inhabit. Here it is reproduced below in its entirity.
From: Richard Leask [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 6:57 AM
Subject: Origins of the family name Leask. Opinions and observations of RG Leask
The study of family history is frustrating enough without the doubt and intrigue surrounding the meaning of the family name and where and how it originates. A common opinion of the origins of the name suggest it is “of that Ilk” or from ,”the place of that name” within the parish of Slains in Aberdeenshire. (now known as Pitlurg). See Blacks Scottish surnames–History of the Leasks- and others
I believe the former “Lands of Leask” derived its name instead, FROM the family that were awarded it in 1346.
The family of Leasks, that is sketchily recorded living in Slains over a period of time,since the early 14th century, would in all probability have originated in Perthshire or possibly Fife. Perhaps William de Laskereske of Fife reference in the Ragman Rolls of 1296 is relevant.
They are well enough documented as being “vassals” of the Hays of Errol and later were bonded in Manrent to the Hays. It is probable and almost certain that the Leasks were allied to the Hays long before Bannockburn in 1314 where they supported King Robert the 1st (Robert the Bruce) in victory over the English. The Hays were of course rewarded by the King for their support in the victory and were gifted Slains. Subsequently, King Roberts son King David the 2nd confirmed the granting the lands there to the Leasks in 1341/46. These lands had originally been confiscated by King Robert from the Comyns (Cummings) whom he defeated during the wars of Scottish Independence at Dumfries in 1306.
I have failed to find any reference to this area being known as the “Lands of Leask” prior to this time and therefore suggest that this area was named accordingly, after the family was awarded it in 1346.
It is also unlikely that the family Leask lived in this area prior to Bannockburn as it would have been most impractical and nigh impossible to be mobilised (by the Hays) at short notice, as it is around 100 miles away from the former seat of the Hays at Errol Perthshire.(A five day march both ways). It would appear sensible to assume that vassals or supporters would be living within hailing distance of their “Lairds” to facilitate support. That is either in Perthshire or close by in Fife. (Just across the river Tay from Errol). The Hays had for several generations owned land in Fife so therefore would have been aware of William de Laskereske in 1296 or any other branches of his family.If the de Laskereskes were the early vassals of the Hays, the distinct possibility arises that they could have been a “Norman” family or tribe, traditionally sub-servient and allied to the Hays and could have been supporting them for many generations since and quite possibly before the Norman invasion.It is also entirely possible that the family de Lesque from Normandy is somehow relevant.
A comprehensive DNA study of male “Leasks” may be the only remaining option to identify the true origins of the our ancestors and how the name came about. I am aware that some “Leasks” have been tested and indicate origins (sometime in the dim and distant past) from Saxony /Friesland areas bordering the North Sea. This is true of many other Norman families also.
I would welcome comment, questions, opinions, additional information, advice on any of the facts or observations contained above to clear up and identify the “Slains” Leask origins.
It remains to be seen if there are other Leasks, that may have a totally different origin. Again DNA testing could confirm or deny connection.It is therefore almost essential that males with the surname Leask be encouraged to enter into a DNA study to help with confirmation of the family origins. Several different branches of Leasks may be revealed in this exercise!
Regards Richard Leask Cumbria England