Origins of the Leasks in Orkney and Shetland

My specific family line hails from Shetland, with my great grandfather Leask having grown up on the shores of Channerwick Beach. In the early 2000s my mother, father, and I visited Shetland and saw the stone cottage my great grandfather lived in – what a humbling expierience. Here are some of the documented facts of early Leasks in Orkney and Shetland as they appear in our upcoming brochure Researching the Leasks: Documented Historical Evidence. As always, we welcome your thoughts on this evidence and any insights into how your family may relate or what stories they may have passed around the Leasks in Orkney and Shetland.

In 1391 Thomas de Laysak (Lask) traveled to Kirkwell, Orkney, where he was one of the witnesses to a charter issued by Henry St. Clair (Sinclair), the Earl of Orkney. The Orkney Leasks are descended from James of Lask, younger son of Thomas de Lask of that Ilk, the second Chief of the Leasks, who is recorded at various times during 1388-1400 in the Scottish Public Records.

James of Lask emigrated to Orkney in 1446. His descendants, through son Boniface Lesk, have been traced to Isabella Logie Leask of Orkney, who married James Leask, b. 1802, of Westbank, Kirkwall, Orkney, and was the Great Grandfather of J. W. G Leask of that Ilk. Richard Leask, another grandson of James of Lask, accompanied Sir David Sinclair to Sumburgh when he was appointed Fold of Shetland and became his co-executor in 1506. He is presumed to be progenitor of all Leask families in Shetland.

It was not until c.1450 that the Orkney and Shetland Isles became part of Scotland when they were brought as her dowry by Margaret of Denmark when she came to marry King James II of Scotland.

For more about research of the Leasks check out our research site at http://research.leask.com/