The Clan Leslie


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The Clan Leslie claim descent from Bartholf, a Fleming who obtained the Barony of Lesly in the 12th century, and it was his son Malcolm who was the first to take the name from the lands. Sir Andrew Leslie was one of the signatories of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, a letter to the Pope asserting Scottish independence. His second son married the daughter and heiress of the Earl of Ross and hence in his wife's right became Earl . On his death in 1402 the right of earldom was fought by his brother-in-law, Donald of the Isles at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. The Leslies lost the title but the sixth Leslie Chief, Sir Andrew, was created Earl of Rothes by James II and the family have held the title up to the present day. William, 3rd Earl of Rothes was killed at Flodden and his son, George, was one of the chief conspirators in the assassination of Cardinal Beaton (Bethune). Andrew, 4th Earl who succeeded his father in 1588 was intimately concerned with the affairs of Mary Queen of Scots fighting on her side at Langside. George Leslie of Balgonie served with great distinction under Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden in the Thirty Years War. He returned to Scotland to command the Covenantors and captured Edinburgh Castle, as a reward, and to conciliate the Scots, Charles I created him Earl of Leven in 1641. The Leslies of Balquhain were the most distinguished branch and were involved in a long feud with the Forbes. The most notable of their family was John Leslie, Bishop of Ross who wrote, in the Scottish vernacular, "A History of Scotland" for Mary Queen of Scots, of whom he was a loyal supporter. He was also involved in the Ridolfi plot, for which he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

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