Motto:  Grip Fast

The Leslie name originates from the barony in Aberdeenshire, although some links to Fife also exist. It is also found in England as ‘Lece’, from the Old French ‘lece', a variation of ‘Lettice', and from the Latin ‘Latitia’ meaning ‘joy’.  In most cases the name is most likely from the Old English ‘Laes’.  The family claim descent from Bartolf, a Hungarian noble in the suite of Edgar the Atheling, chamberlain to the Queen of Scotland, wife of Malcolm Canmore.  The Leslie Motto ‘Grip Fast’ refers to an alleged incident where Bartolf carried the Queen across a swollen river.  

By various marriages the Barons Leslie acquired Rothes, Fythkill and Ballinbriech.  Established in the Garioch district of Aberdeen, as a place known as Lesselyn, Bartolf built a castle.  The third Earl died at Flodden in 1513, while the fourth George, died in mysterious circumstance in Dieppe; a suspected poisoning.  The Leslies turned to professional soldiery in the 17th century, taking parts in campaigns across Europe.  Alexander Leslie commanded the Army of the Covenant and was later raised to the peerage as Earl of Leven.  

David Lesley, of the Rothes family, was also a Covenanter commander.  Routed at Dunbar by Cromwell’s troops, he was imprisoned until the restoration, making him Lord Newark.  The seventh Earl was created Duke of Rothes in 1680 by Charles II. The magnificent Leslie House near Fife remained the seat of the Earls until 1926.  Leslie Castle in Aberdeenshire has also been fully restored.  

Included in the Sir William Cokburn Collection in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow (1810-1820), the tartan is mentioned in the correspondence of the tartan manufacturing firm James Wilson of Bannockburn, Stirlingshire in 1818.