Clan Leask Research Home Page

There are many spellings of the name Leask: Leisk, Liesk, Lisk, Lesh, Laesk, Lask, Lesk, Leysk, Laysk, and Lusk.  This website was created to encourage research about the history of the Clan and Leasks of all spellings; and to document what is known or believed to be known about the Clan’s history.  Our hope is that others will contribute the knowledge they glean from their own research of the period before 1800 or contribute what they know from their family archives.

We need your help to increase the number of participants in the Leask Y-DNA Surname Study and to make the results more meaningful.  Additionally, the study needs to include some members of the Clan Chief’s line.

Summary of the Leask Surname Y-DNA Surname Study to date: July 2013

The key Question: Is the Clan Leask of Pict, Frisian, Briton, Saxon, Danish, Orcadian, Norman, Viking or some other origin.  The Y-DNA study indicates the answer for the most of the Leask’s tested so far is that the Clan Leask’s origin is either Frisian, Anglo-Saxon or Danish and the tested Leasks are likely to have originated in either Friesland or Jutland.

Surnames tested in the Leask Surname Y-DNA Study so far are: Leask, Lisk, Leisk, Lusk. Three distinct lines have been discovered up to this point for Clan Leask. Two of them though different are more closely related (both having the L48 SNP) and are likely to have a similar geographic origin and a common ancestor. The third line (group #3) does not have the L48 SNP and appears to have a different geographic origin. Lusk was tested at their request because oral family history for some, not all of the Lusks claimed Lusk was an Irish spelling of Leask.  Leask Group #1 and Leask Group #2 are both U106+. This haplogroup is also known as R1b-S21 (a.k.a U-106) on Eupedia. Leask Group #3 is not U-106 but is U-152. Group #3’s haplogroup is known as R1b-S28 (U152) on Eupedia.

The articles found on are interesting.  Groups #1 & #2 are likely from Friesland or Central Jutland according to the experts on Eupedia. (See  According to Eupedia its presence in other parts of Europe can be attributed to the 5th- and 6th-century Germanic migrations. The Frisians and Saxons spread this haplogroup: to the British Isles, to the Franks and France, to Belgium, and through the Lombards to Austria and Northern Italy.  W. F. Skene pointed to evidence of Frisian settlements in Scotland in his article “On the Early Frisian Settlements in Scotland.”  He speculated that the Frisians left their name on the parish in Aberdeenshire known as Foveran. Because the third group is R1b1a2a1a1b4 and is R-L21+ and is not R1b1a2a1a1a4; R-L48 like groups #1 & #2; I conclude they are of a different geographic  origin.  Group #3 is thought to have come north from Iberia to England and Ireland (

More information on the study can be found on the section of this website known as: The Y-DNA Surname Study under Clan Research



We are challenged to do a better job researching key parts of the history of the Clan Leask. Can you help with the research?  Can you contribute anything from your family’s archives?  The documents as listed in the section of this website entitled “Known & Documented Historical Evidence of Clan Leask” give us some evidence of the history of the Leasks, especially when reviewed in the context of the history of the locations where Leasks have lived.  To make that easier we are adding a section to the website entitled “Related Events”

Our challenge is two fold.  First, we  must locate more documents to add to the historical evidence of the history of the Leasks prior to the 1800s.  Second, we must find ways to fill in the gaps in our knowledge with research of the several areas.

We want to learn much more about the origin of the Leasks, including all we can about:

  1. Exactly when did the Leasks first settle in Slains, Aberdeenshire in the areas that bear there name?
  2. Where did they live prior to there arrival in Slains, Aberdeenshire?
  3. What can we learn about the history of the relationships between the Leasks and other Clans that lived in and around the Leask homeland such as the Clans Comyn, Hays, Sinclair, Gordon, Frazier, and Forbes?
  4. Why did the Leasks go to Orkney during the reign of Earl Henry Sinclair and what was the nature and history of ties between Clan Leask, Clan Sinclair and Clan Gunn? (Niven Sinclair believed the Leasks like the Gunns had close ties to Earl Henry Sinclair and the other Sinclair Earls of Orkney)
  5. Exactly what was the role of the Leasks in Orkney and Shetland during the reign of the Sinclair Earls of Orkney?
  6. Were the Leasks in Orkney or Shetland prior to the reign of Earl Henry Sinclair?
  7. When did the Leasks acquire land on the Isle of Papa Westray, in Orkney? (Sir Brian Chalmers Leask claimed the Leasks were in Papa Westray as early as 1084 AD but we have found no evidence of a Leask presence in Orkney prior to the rein of Earl Henry Sinclair.)
  8. We want to determine if the claims of Madam Leask in her booklet on the Leasks and by Sir Brian Chalmers Leask in his writings that certain Leasks were at one time kinsmen of the King of Denmark? (“Eric Laesk in Orkney was by repute Crown Chamberlain to his kinsman, the King of Denmark, when Orkney belonged to that country.” according to Madam Leask as in her booklet on the history of the Leasks on page 1.) (…From 1460-1470 William de Lask acts as Crown Chamberlain for the King Denmark in Papa Westray and is stated as a descendant of the Danish Royal line.” as found in Sir Brian Chalmers Leask, book Leask’s Australian Genealogies on page 332.)     Today the names Leask, Lask and Laesk are names found in Denmark. However, we have seen no evidence to support the claims of a tie to the Danish Royal line.
  9. Some claim the Shetland Leasks are descended from Richard Lask, son of “Jamis of Lask” who reportedly emigrated to Orkney in 1446 AD.  Jamis of Lask (also known as Jamis of Orkney) was the second son of Thomas de Lask, the second known Clan Chief of the Leasks.  He is reputed to have married a grand daughter of Earl Henry Sinclair. Sir Brian Chalmers Leask claimed he was also be known as Jamis de Craigy.  We have seen no evidence of these claims.  It all needs to be researched.
  10. There is a claim that Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, made a trip to the Americas.  Niven Sinclair states he believes the Leask’s were part of that trip.  That such a trip actually took place is disputed by many experts and advocated for by others.  We are interested in any evidence regarding such a trip and any possible Leask involvement.
  11. There is a claim the Leasks were on the first or second crusade.  There is a claim that is the reason for the crescent on the Leask Clan badge.  We have seen no evidence of this claim.  These claims need to be researched.
  12. Earl Henry Sinclair is reputed to have been head of the Scottish Knights Templar.  Were any members of the Clan Leask involved in the Scottish Knights Templar?
  13. We need to find out more about the genetic origin of the clan Leask using Y-DNA studies of the Leask’s and studies of the migration of peoples using Y-DNA.
  14. We want to learn more about the land of Leask and any archeological studies done in the general area including but not limited to:The Tumulus located on the land of Leask, The ‘Battlefield of Leask’, The weapons and other archeological finds discovered on the land of Leask, The ‘Chapel of Leask’, The graveyard located around the Chapel of Leask, and Who lived and owned the Land of Leask prior to 1300?
  15. We would like to learn if de Lask, Leask, Slains, Ellon, or any term that includes or is variation of the name Leask, appear in the Chronicles of the Picts, Inquisito, or Black Book of the Exchequer.
  16. We would like to learn more about the original “Ragman Role” (“Statue of Rageman – de Ragemannis) as prepared by local Churches for a legate of Scotland, who compelled all clergy to give a true account of their benefices, that they might be taxed by Rome accordingly.  Subsequently it was applied to four great rolls of parchment recording acts of fealty and homage done by the Scottish nobility to Edward I in 1296.  Though the originals perished a record of them is preserved in the Rolls House, Chancery Lane.  The Leask’s may appear in King Edward’s August 28, 1296 ragman roll signed during the “parliament” held by Edward I at Berwick, as William de Lafkerefk  (del county fyf).  In the 13th Century f was used to represent s, and fyf = fife (hence William de Laskeresk of fife.  Is a Leask really a signer of the smaller Ragmen Role signed in 1291, which nobles signed at Norham on Tweed in 1291. What implications does this have on Leask History? Was William de Lafkerefk really William de Lask as claimed and if so why the reference to Fife?

18 Responses to Clan Leask Research Home Page

  1. I have always wondered about my family’s heritage. When I was a kid my paternal grandfather, who I was named after, would always tell me our family name is an old one on Staten Island, New York, where I was born. He was raised by his grandfather due to both his parents passing when he was very young. For the life of me I never really asked him what his grandfather or his parents names where. My grandfather always had a bust of a Scotsman and that of a Dutchman in his home. Again I never asked why. Then I started trying piece together my family line and have learned we are of Scottish decent. Have managed to trace a LISK being on Staten Island, New York, USA as far back as the 1700, but not sure how that arrived there. ~ John William Lisk, Monroe Twp. NJ

  2. Hi, I have William Leask married to Elizabeth Gadie married 31/12/1662

  3. Hi Pauline Leask from Ophir CentralOtago New Zealand My family on mum and Dads sides from Orkney love the history

  4. I’ll pass your email on to both my brothers (there’s one cousin who would also qualify, as well as my dad and two of his brothers). No promises!

  5. Just found this site – very interesting. I’m of the Leask’s from Ellon, according to the genealogy documentation that exists. Peter Leask born in Aberdeenshire (1784-1877) immigrated to Ontario, Canada from Ryland Farm Banffshire, Scotland to make his sons “landlords in the new country” after rents and tuition for the education of his family were raised in Scotland. They travelled in a sailing ship with enough gold to buy 200 acres of land for each of his seven sons and two daughters. (“Leask Lines” Ewart Annis Leask, 2004) [Unfortunately, the family fortune didn’t make the trip up into the my lifetime!] My great grandfather Peter Alexander brought his wife (and cow) by train to Manitoba homesteading on 2-11-25 NE (near Lenore) in 1882. I grew up on this farm which is still in the family.

    • I am a Leask from Shetland. We can trace our direct line back to the middle 1700s in Shetland.

      We too have family members who settled in Canada. Other members of the family settled in the USA. I’d love to have a male member of your Family take part in the Y-dna study located at Familytree DNA.

    • John Leask (one of the nine siblings you mention who emigrated to Canada) was my GG Grandfather. His daughter Marion (aka Minnie) married my G Grandfather, William Vincent. I would love to exchange more information with you and see just how our histories connecct.

  6. I have been trying to research my fathers family , he was one of eight boys and three sisters born at Vatsetter Mid Yell.Their father was James Hugh Leisk , mother Christina Grace . Later they moved to Sanday , Orkney . I have visited Mid Yell where many past generations are buried , including an Aunt Margaret can anyone give me a reason why in the early 1930s she should be in an unmarked grave

  7. Robyn (Leask) Wilson

    Hi my name is Robyn ( Leask ) Wilson. I have done a bit of research on the Leask name. My Grandfathe James Maurice Leask is 90 years old and is the son of Frederick Abram Leask who is the son of Capt. Abram Leask. I am very interested in what you may know of our family. My email is I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Unfortunately I do not know anything about your specific family. I have concentrated more on Clan History. Where is your family from?

      • Robyn (Leask) Wilson

        Our family is from the Shetland island. My great great great Grandpa Capt Abram Leask is the son of James Leask and Jane Sinclair. Abram was married to Mary Leisk in 1842. They immigrated to Canada in 1848. That’s as far back as I can find online.

  8. Thanks Jay for the catch up via facebook tonight.
    We are Australian Leasks. I am the youngest son of Malcolm Christie Leask [1915 – 1999] and Orba Amy Leask [1917 – 2000]. Our dad Mal was 1st Cousin of Moira Anne Helgesen [ Madame Anne Leask of Leask ].
    We have a family tree back in to 1700s along dad’s line, which i would be happy to share with you.
    I also would love to find out more about the Leask branches in the USA.
    Lets keep the contacts open.


  9. Shirley Lisk Covington

    Mac Leask suggested that I try out this website. So glad that I did.
    Shirley Covington

  10. Hi I’m not sure if this is of any use, but my grandfather Andrew Leask was born on Whalsay, Shetland in a small stone croft where he lived with his widowed mother and 4 siblings, until he was 14 (in around 1928) to go to sea. He went on to become a captain in the merchant navy, marrying my grandmother Mary Williamson from South Shields through striking up a relationship on one of his many visits to the Tyne. They lived in both South Shields and Shetland, having two sons: Walter and David Andrew (my father). Walter moved to New Zealand in 1972 where he had 1 daughter and 3 sons; Judith, Andrew, Donald and Magnus. All but Magnus (who lives in Gateshead) still reside in NZ in Upper Hutton near Wellington- all of whom are very proud Leasks and have researched our roots quite extensively, with some findings I would be very interested to know whether we’re true or not! I myself still live in South Shields, as does my father and on discovering Clan Leask last year, have reignited my interest into all things Leask! Especially since my 8 year old son has a very inquisitive nature! I would be interested in taking part in any research including the DNA part, and look forward to being more active in my ‘Leaskness’
    Kerry Ann Leask, South Shields

  11. Hi Mac. Congratulations on the new site. I hope it stimulates some new discoveries genealogies wise.

    Best wishes, Ray

    • Ray – so glad you found the site; did you find it through a google search? Congratulations on the new site, I love the design! Good luck gathering content.

      As I said on your site, if you are interested in co-hosting, let me know. You can reach me on my email: jay (at) leask (dot) com

      Cheers –j

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