Tag Archives: Clan Hay

Clan Leask USA Gathering at the Virginia Scottish Games

We’re a couple of days after the Virginia Scottish Games and I think I’m finally recovered. What a fantastic weekend! Hosting the Clan Leask USA tent at the games was a ton of fun and from other clans to Leasks I’d never met we got to meet a lot of new people!

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In total we had 26 guests spend time at the tent, 14 of which were completely new friends to Clan Leask. Four of those attended specifically to learn more about our histroy based on the postcard sent out prior to the games! We met a Polish Lieske who saw the similarity with Liesk and wanted to learn more about potential connection; a Lesh of German ancestry, curious about the Y-DNA links; and a young Stewart who was walking around the clans asking about their history learning about other Scottish clans. At least four visitors said they would consider participating in the Leask Y-DNA study.

In addition there were, of course, the other clan tents. MacTavish was the honored clan but a few familiars were in attendance including Sinclair and Hay with whom the Leasks have direct connections and alliances.

John McPherson Leask II, Mac, was interviewed a German student who was interviewing individuals with Scottish heritage to find out what family and clan meant to them and how their Scottish heratige fit into their life. She also asked about our opinion on the vote coming up on September 18th, to which we very carefully acknowledged that we do not know all the facts and won’t be directly affected by the results. Mac Leask, lead researcher for Clan Leask USA, told her that the decision belonged with the Scots who live in Scotland and will have to live with the result, whatever it is.

I’m very proud of our prepartion leading into the games. Clan Leask USA was represented by two three foot by five foot banners showing all thirteen spellings of Leask. We had two clan members in kilts wearing Leask tartan and two women and a child wearing Leask sashes – all Leask tartan reprsented at this games was the Weathered tartan, not the ancient registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans. Our table was lined with the Leask tartan and we had a number of brochures to hand out. We also had a photo album of my parents and my visit to Scotland from 2001.

We had three borchures to share: Potential Origin Stories, Documented History (here, here, and here), and an update on the Y-DNA study (links go to content pulled from the brochure and shared on this site).

Overall I am very pleased to have had the oportunity to represent the Leasks at a Scottish Games and look forward to doing so again soon – we hope to participate at the Virginia Scottish Games again in 2015 as well as, potentially, games in New Hampshire or Georgia in the coming years. If there’s a games near you we should consider let us know!

The Land of Leask

Are you familiar with the Land of Leask? In an area approximately 20 miles north of Aberdeen City there are a number of “Leask” named places including Byreleask, Knapsleask, and Nether Leask (or Netherleask).

The Land of Leask (Leskgoroune), Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

The Land of Leask (Leskgoroune), Aberdeenshire. (source: Ray Leask’s Clan Leask website)

In early times, families were often known by the name of the place they came from, hence the belief that the Leask name may have originated from the Aberdeenshire Lands of Leask, (map below) Leskgoroune. Adriane C. Grant, author of Scottish Clans: Legend, Logic & Evidence believes that the origin of the name Leask is geographical.  He said “I have spoken with Neil MacGregor, the expert on Gaelic placenames and I am left in no doubt that the real basis of “Leskgoroune” is actually ‘Lois Eodhnaon’ – (St) Adamnan’s chapel yard”.

He continued, “this is a reference to the church dedicated to St Adamnan at Knapsleask.  It seems to me likely that the whole of the Leask estate will have been assigned to the upkeep of the chapel whenever it was founded. So Leask is really Lois – chapel yard. We are not 100% sure where the intrusive -kg- came from – but you may be aware that “g” has the value “k” in Gaelic.” This specultation is questioned by others, who do not see Lois Edhnaon as the translation of Leskgoroune.

We do know that around 1345 William Lesk received a charter of confirmation to his lands of Leskgoroune or Leskgaranne from David II of Scotland, son of Robert the Bruce. He might be the same William Lesk who was recorded in the parish records of the church at Ellon, Aberdeenshire as: Willelmi de Lask (also spelled Laysk), the Elder, Lord of that Ilk, who bequeathed a pound of wax yearly to the alter of the Holyrood in the church of St Mary of Ellon.

The Chapel of Leask dates back to the earliest of times. It is thought that a Colomban Oratory stood on this land about the end of the sixth century. The ruins of the present building, constructed about the thirteenth century, stand on the site of the ancient chapel.

The Ruins of Chapel Leask.
(source: Ray Leask’s Clan Leask website)

Despite having their own Chapel, it is recorded in the Parish records of the Church at nearby Ellon, that the Leask Chief, his family, and retainers, were regular attenders at St. Mary’s Church. Thus in 1380 the parish records reveal that Willelmi de Lask, the Elder, Lord of that Ilk, bequeathed ‘one stone of wax from the Lands of Logy, together with twelve pence of silver in order that candles might be burned for ever, for himself and his wives, Alice de Rath and Mariota de Saint Michael, and for the salvation of his sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, on the Sabbath and other feast days, on their tomb’.

Over the years the Lands of Leask steadily expanded beyond the boundaries of Slains Parish, partly by inheritance, partly by exchange of lands, and by purchase. The Estate included the Home Farm, Mains of Leask, Moss Leask, Byreleask, Knapsleask, Nether Leask, Milton of Leask, and Mill of Leask.

In 1390 the second known chief of Clan Leask, ballie of the barony of Findon, inherited half of the lands of Henry de Brogan, Lord of Achlowne.

In 1456 Ulfrid or Wilfred Lask of that Ilk, signed a ‘Band of Manrent’ to William Earl of Erroll, of the Clan Hay, and resigned the lands of Leask and Auchlethin in favor of his son Thomas Lask. In this deed Thomas is designated ‘armiger’ to his superior, Sir William Hay.

Ray Leask has a section of his website dedicated to the Hills of Leask (Leskgourgone) with a great set of photos covering KnapsLeask, the Chapel of Leask, Mains of Leask, Mill of Leask, Milltown of Leask, Moss Leask, Nether Leask, and the Manor House. Be sure to check it out and use the dropdown navigation to see each sub-section!