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MacLea Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: CNOC AINGEIL (hill of fire)

Allow me to recount the storied history of your family, the MacLeas, a lineage intricately woven with the Island of Lismore and the expanse of Lorne in Argyll. Your ancestral name, MacLea, stands as the Highland counterpart to the Lowland moniker of Livingstone. At the helm of your family stands the Baron of Bachuil and hereditary Coarb of St. Moluag, titles that harken back to the dawn of the Gaelic kingdom of Dal Riata, a realm that once graced the lands of Argyll. Embedded within these titles lies the legacy of St. Moluag, the sixth-century cleric, a testament to your family’s unbroken connection with history. The relics of the saint, symbolized by the Great Staff of St. Moluag, or Bachuil Mor, are lovingly guarded by your lineage.

Delving into the origins of the surname MacLea, we find ourselves traversing scholarly debates and intriguing theories. While one notion suggests that it’s an anglicized rendering of Mac an Leigh, signifying ‘son of the physician’, this supposition remains rather speculative. A more viable etymology traces its roots to an earlier rendition, Maconlea, and its Gaelic predecessor, Mac Dhunnsheibhe, meaning ‘son of the brown haired’. However, the prevailing theory intertwines your family’s heritage with that of a Gaelic noble, Dunshleibe Ua Eochadha (d.1091), a descendant of the same lineage as St. Moluag. This family’s reign as Kings of Ulidia in Ireland was eclipsed by the onset of the Anglo Normans in the twelfth century, forcing them into exile. The esteemed office of Coarb of St. Moluag proved a fitting mantle for an exiled prince, lending an air of prestige to your lineage’s narrative.

The annals of history reveal the valor of your family on several fronts. The Battle of Bealach na Broige saw your clan stand resolute alongside allies against the Earl of Ross, marking a struggle that cost dearly in lives but emerged as a pyrrhic victory for the earl. In 1557, the McLeas of Achnacree etched their names into the annals of courage, almost vanishing into the annals of time while supporting the MacDougalls of Lorn against the Campbells of Inverawe. The echoes of your lineage’s tenacity resound through the Battle of Dunraverty in 1647, another clash with the Campbells of Inverawe. The confrontation yielded defeat for the McLeas and claimed the lives of valiant clansmen, underscoring the unyielding spirit that courses through your lineage.

When the tempestuous winds of 1745 swept across the land, Neil Mconlea, the fifth son of the Baron on Bachuil, emerged from the tempestuous maelstrom of the Battle of Culloden, standing as a testament to your family’s fortitude. Through the ebb and flow of time, your lineage’s legacy persists. It’s thought that Neil’s bloodline gave rise to the remarkable explorer and missionary, Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873), a beacon of inspiration in his own right. John Maconlea, Baron of Bachuil (b.1746), marked a pivotal juncture when he chose to anglicize his name as Livingstone, thus initiating a new chapter that holds steadfast to the legacy of your esteemed family.

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Family Crest Motto: CNOC AINGEIL (hill of fire)

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