Leask

Origins

There is more than one theory as to the origin of the name Leask. One is from the Anglo-Saxon word lisse which means happy. Another is that it comes from the Norse meaning of stirring fellow. Another is that it comes from Liscus which was the name of the chief of a tribe called the Haedui. The Haedui were a tribe of Gauls as described by Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars. Another theory concerns the Castle of Boulogne, once the possession of Charlemagne, at one time belonged to a family called de Lesque. William de Laskereske’s signature appears on the Ragman Roll of 1296.

 

 

14th century

Later William Leask was granted the lands of Leskgoroune by King David II of Scotland, son of Robert the Bruce. William was also the first known chief of the Clan Leask. The second chief was baillie of the barony of Findon. He inherited lands from Henry de Brogan, Lord of Achlowne, in 1390, later in the 1400s another branch of the family sprung up on Orkney after Jamis of Lask, younger son of Thomas de Lask of that Ilk settled there.

 

 

16th century

During the Anglo-Scottish Wars the clan suffered when they fought against the English at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513. Both William, the fifth chief of the clan and his eldest son Alexander were killed. William’s younger son also called William became the 6th chief of the clan. William Lesk of that Ilk, the seventh chief supported the infant King James VI of Scotland in opposition to his mother Mary, Queen of Scots after the murder of Lord Darnley and her scandalous marriage to Bothwell.

 

 

17th century

Between 1615 and 1616 there appears to have been a disagreement of some sort between the Leasks and the neighbouring Clan Gordon. In all the recorded cases the Gordons appear to have been the aggressors; Adam Gordon, brother of the Laird of Gight assaulted Alexander Leask, then the son of the chief was attacked by George Gordon and finally William Leask of that Ilk was ambushed by John Gordon of Ardlogy and a party of armed men.

Also in the seventeenth century the Leasks suffered terribly by investing heavily in the Darién scheme. The venture was a disaster with a vast amount of Scotland’s wealth being lost which in some part led to the union of Scotland and England Alexander Leask of that Ilk, the thirteenth chief was forced to give up his estates which were taken over by Robert Cumming.

 

 

The clan today

In 1963, a descendant managed to buy back a portion of the family lands and established the Leask Society with the support of other prominent Leasks such as Lieutenant General Sir Henry Leask, sometime governor of Edinburgh Castle and General Officer commanding the Army in Scotland. In 1968 Moira Anne Helgesen was granted the chiefship of the clan by the Lord Lyon, where apon she changed her name and became: Madam Anne Leask of Leask. She died in April 2008 and will be succeeded in the chiefship of the clan by Jonathan Leask, who will become the 23rd chief of Clan Leask.

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