Leslie is a toponymic surname derived from the lands of Lesslyn, a site in the Garioch, Aberdeen. The name is said to have originated from the lands granted to Bartholf by King Malcolm III.
Family legend states that while Bartholf was demarcating the boundaries of his lands his horse collapsed ‘between a lesse ley and the mair’ (a sheltered grassland by the sea). When Bartholf reported this to the king it is said the king replied ‘Lord Lessley shalt thou be’.
The oldest record of the lands of Lesslyn is a charter written around 1175. This charter ‘confirms Malcolm son of Bartholf and his heirs the land in Lesslyn’. The charter reads, in Latin; ‘confirmasse Malcolmo filio Bartholf et heredibus suis terram suam in Lesslyn’. The Leslie surname did not appear until the late thirteenth century when the name of Norman de Lessley appeared in public documents.
Throughout history the name appears in various ways and has different spelling to the present day.