Author Archives: jayleask

The Challenge

We are challenged to do a better job researching key parts of the history of the Clan Leask.  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?


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 family’s origin is either Frisian, Anglo-Saxon or Danish and the tested Leasks are likely to have originated in either Friesland or Jutland.  Therefore information about the claimed ties to the Danes would be very useful.

  • According to Madam Leask, Eric Laesk of Orkney was by repute Crown Chamberlain to his kinsman the King of Denmark.  According to Sir Brian Chalmers Leask during 1460 – 1470 William de Lask acted as Crown Chamberlain for the King of Denmark, and was the stated as a decedent of the Danish Royal Line.    Today Laesk, Lask and Leask are names found in Denmark.  When did Erick live?  How was Eric Laesk and how was William de Lask related to the Danish Royal line, if they really were?

Leask place names on maps of Slains Parish, Aberdeenshire include: Leask, Knapsleask, Byreleask, Nether Leask Mains of Leask, Moss Leask, Mill of Leask, Milton of Leask and Home Farm of Leask, now known as Home Farm of Pitlurg.  Other Leask place names appearing on documents but not now on maps we have seen are: Broganleask, Overleask, Inlaisk, Laskereske or Lafkerefk, Leaskgoroune.  Accepted Spellings of the name Leask are: Leysk, Laysk, Lask, Leisk, Leisk, Liesk, Lisk, Lesk Lesh and possibly: Laesk in Orkney and Denmark.  Y-DNA testing has shown those tested with the surname Leask, Leisk, Lisk and Lusk have a common ancestor. The surnames names de Laysk, de Lask and de Lesk have been used in documents referring to various members of the Clan Leask. David II, son of Robert the Bruce, granted a Charter of Confirmation for the lands of Leskgoroune (or Leskgaronne) to William Lesk, dated 1341×1346.(Note: This William Leask is believed to be the first known Clan Chief of the Leasks in Slains Parish, Aberdeenshire.)  When did the Leasks first arrive in Aberdeenshire Orkney and Shetland and where did they come from?

There is a town in Poland known as Lask in Polish and Lusk in Russian.  Lask is said to be connected to the famous Laski Family though there is no documentation to support the claim. This needs to be explored and the results documented.

In France, perhaps there is a connection to the Lesque Family, Counts of Boulogne-though that has not been explored and the results documented.

The Clan Leask has been linked to the history of the dominate Clans in the areas where they have lived. The clans include: Comyn, Sinclair, and Hay and possibly Buchan.  They seem to have been in conflict with the Clan Gordon.  The Leask’s are reputed to have lived in Aberdeen, Slains Parish-Aberdeenshire, Orkney and Shetland.  Key to understanding the Leasks and their relationship with their neighbors the Celts, Dalriadan Scots, Picts, Saxons, Danish, Normans, Saxons and others is understanding: when and under what circumstances the Leasks first settled in the Parish of Slains, Aberdeenshire, Orkney, and Shetland. What was and the nature of the Leask relationship to these people and the Clans found where the Leasks lived?

In Kirkwall (Kirkwaw), Orkney on April 23, 1391 Thomas de Laysak (Lask), a knight (believed to be the second Leask clan chief), among others, witnessed a charter that transfers lands in Auchdale and Newberg to David Sinclair from Henry St. Clair, who became Earl of Orkney in 1379 when King Haakon VI granted the Orcadian Earldom to William Sinclair’s son Henry Sinclair (St. Clair).  (Note: In an email conversation Nevin Sinclair said he believes the reason so many people signed the 1391 document is that the gathering was to plan Prince Henry’s trip to America. Some claim Thomas joined Prince Henry on his voyage to the new world with about 300 of Prince Henry’s men in 12 ships. Nevin Sinclair claims he believes Thomas transferred from Aberdeen to Orkney to accompany Prince Henry to the new world. Sir Brian Chalmers Leask said he believes both Prince Henry and Sir Thomas de Lask were Knights Templar and they were both were on a crusade.)  Can any of this be documented? When and why did the Leasks go to Orkney and what was their relationship with Earl Henry Sinclair?  Did they go on a crusade together?  Were they Knights Templar?

In 1391 a Thomas de Lask (or Laysk), a knight, (believed by some to be the second known Leask Clan Chief) witnessed a charter by Henry St. Clair. Some claim a Thomas de Lask joined Prince Henry on his voyage to the new world with 200 of Prince Henry’s men in 12 ships.  Nevin Sinclair claims Thomas transferred from Aberdeen to Orkney to accompany Prince Henry to the new world.  Nevin believes the reason so many important people signed the document was because they had gathered to plan Prince Henry’s trip to the new world.  Others dispute the existence of such a trip.  That such a trip took place is disputed by others.  What evidence exists to determine the truth and if such a trip took place were the Leasks really involved?

The Leask’s in Shetland are believed to have descended from Richard de Lask.  Richard was the oldest son of William de Lask.  William was the oldest son James or Jamis de Lask known also as Jamis of Orkney.  Jamis of Lask (also referred to as James of Cragy by Sir Brian Chalmers Leask) may have married Prince Henry’s grand daughter according to Nevin Sinclair).  James of Orkney was the second son of Thomas of Leskgaronne, Aberdeenshire second known chief of the Clan Leask (also know as Thomas de Lask and Thomas de Laysk in various documents)

Hills of Leask by Ray Leask

The Hills of Leask, also known as the Land of Leask, as seen by Ray Leask. Once on the site hover over the navigation item “Hills of Leask” to see the rest of his fantastic gallery!

[ Click for external gallery ]

Leask Manor House

Family Tree: John McPherson Leask II, “Mac”

I am John M. Leask II, known as Mac-born 10/21/42 in Bridgeport, CT.  I am the father of John M. Leask, III known as Jay-born 7/25/80 in Norwalk, CT; he is married to Antares Elizabeth Russell.  Jay’s mother is Phoebe Kamelakis Leask-born 10/24/43 in Schenectady, New York.  Phoebe, of Greek extraction, married me on August 19, 1979.   She has three children by her first marriage.  Though I have not adopted them, they are every bit as much my children in spirit as is Jay.  These children are Peter Rizos, Andrew Rizos and Joanna Rizos Bogardus.  John Rizos is their natural father.  Joanna, who is married to David Bogardus has three children: Christopher James, Rose and Aaron David.  Andrew, who is married to Jennifer Gibson has one child: Athena Kriti.  Peter is married to Deirdre Director.

I have three Brothers and a sister.  They are Walter MacGregor Leask-born in Michigan on 12/14/44, Charles Burgess Leask-born in Bridgeport, Ct-born on 5/17/47, Ann Burgess Leask Knope-born in Bridgeport, CT on 12/12/50 and William Manchester Leask-born in Bridgeport, CT on 7/30/52 in Bridgeport, CT.

Charles Burgess Leask and his ex-wife Paulette Lashenka have a son James McPherson Leask.  Charles died October 10, 1999 in Bridgeport Hospital.  Ann Burgess Leask Knope and her Husband William Joseph Knope, III (born 3/22/50) were married 1/16/71.  Ann and William have a son Daniel Benjamin Knope born 3/11/74.  Walter married Patricia Hermann Hiltz.  Pat had a daughter by her first husband, Merideth Hiltz.

The father of John M. Leask, II was Haldane Burgess Leask-born 6/24/12 in Detroit, Michigan.  Haldane’s wife was Laura Elizabeth Manchester Leask-born 9/14/14 in Michigan.

The father of Haldane Burgess Leask was John McPherson Leask, Sr.-born 11/4/1871 in Rumpa, Shetland.  Rumpa was also known by the name of the beach on which it is located: Channerwick Beach.  The wife of John M. Leask, Sr, was Ann Jane Burgess of Shetland, born 8/23/1874 in Shetland. She grew up in Lerwick.   On May 11, 1893 John M. Leask, Sr., sailed from Scotland to New York on a boat called the Cutty Rome.  The boat arrived in the US May 22, 1893.  He then took a train to Ontario, Canada to visit his uncle George Leask in Ontario, Canada.  He stayed until 1894, when he moved to Detroit, Michigan.  Ann joined him and they were married on August 2, 1898.  They had 8 Children in the US, all born in Detroit, Michigan, Catherine Leask born 1899, Anne Burgess Leask born 12/20/01, Elizabeth Marjorie Leask born 6/25/03, Elinor Sarah Leask born 5/13/05, Edna Lillian Leask born 1907, Helen Jean Leask born 11/26/09, John McPherson Leask, Jr., born 11/26/09 and Haldane Burgess Leask born 6/24/12. The oldest child of John M. Leask Sr., and Ann Burgess Leask was Catherine Leask who was born in 1899 and died in 1901 of diphtheria.

Ann Burgess Leask, the second child of John M. Leask, Sr., and Ann Burgess Leask, was born 12/20/1901.  She Married Michael (Mike) Hutchinson in 1919.  They lived in New York until they retired and moved to Florida. They had two children: John and Edna. John Hutchinson married Susan and they had one son Wesley.  Edna married Loyd Merrit and they had four daughters.  Mike died in 1970 soon after his 50th wedding anniversary.  Anne Burgess Leask Hutchinson then married her widowed brother in law, Vernon Drake on June 26, 1983.

Elizabeth Marjorie Leask, the third child of John M. Leask, Sr., and Ann Burgess Leask, was born 6/25/1903.  She married Tom Jones (born 7/12/1900) on 9/20/24.  They had one child, Barbara.  Elizabeth and Tom divorced each other.  Tom died in the 1970’s.  12/9/61 Elizabeth married Oswald Rodman Love (born 11/17/92).  Oswald died in 1980.   Elizabeth and Tom’s daughter Barbara married Bob McGory and had two daughters.

Elinor Sarah Leask, the fourth child of John M. Leask, Sr., and Ann Burgess Leask, was born 5/13/05.  She married William F.(Bill) Millar (born 3/9/04) They had one son, Robert (Bob) Millar.  Bill died 4/15/75.  Bill and Elinor’s son Bob married Betty (Sam) Pfingston.  Bob and Betty had four children: Michael, Bonnie, Robin and Robert, Jr..

Edna Lillian Leask, the fifth child of John M. Leask, Sr., and Ann Burgess Leask, was born in 1907.  Her lip became infected and she died in 1923.

John M. Leask, Jr., the seventh child of John M. Leask, Sr., and Ann Burgess Leask was born 11/26/1909.  He married Margaret Harris.  He was a very successful CPA in Fairfield, Connecticut.  John M. Leask, Jr., and Margaret Harris had three Children: Margaret Ann (Peggy), David and Mary Lou.

Haldane Burgess Leask, the father of John M. Leask II, and Grandfather of John M. Leask III was born 6/24/1912.  His family was presented earlier.

Helen Jean Leask, the sixth child of John M. Leask, Sr., and Ann Burgess Leask, was born 11/26/1909.  She married Vernon Drake.  They had two children: Vernon Jr. and Glenda. Helen died in November of 1982 of Parkinson’s disease.  Vernon then married his sister in law Anne after Michel Hutchinson died.

The father of Ann Jane Burgess, wife of John M. Leask, Sr., was Charles Burgess.  The first wife of Charles Burgess was Ann Margaret Aiken.  Charles and Ann had three children: Ann Jane Burgess, Margaret Burgess and May Burgess.  Ann Jane Burgess became the Wife of John M. Leask, Sr., Margaret Burgess married Thomas Williamson in the Shetland.  Margaret Burgess and Thomas Williamson had five Children: Thomas, John, Charles, Bertha and Janet.  Two of the sons Thomas and John moved to America.  Bertha moved to New Zealand.  Janet moved to Scotland or England.  Charles stayed in the Shetland.  May Burgess married William Grant in the Shetland.  May Burgess and William Grant had four children.  The first two were girls.  Their third child was a girl named Peggy and the fourth was a boy named Charles.  The second wife of Charles was Janice Williamson.  Charles and Janice had two sons George and Charles.  George-born in 1895, was a Gordon Highlander who died in a German prison camp in 1918.  Charles died at 16 from a knee infection.

The Father of John M. Leask, Sr. was Laurence (#112213) Leask born 12/27/1839 who died 2/9/1912.  (Laurence born in Sandwick in 1837?)  Laurence married Catherine (#112212) McPherson born 12/21/1841 (1840a) in Brough, Dunrossness.  Laurence and Catherine McPherson Leask had 4 girls, 3 of whom never married.  Laurence and Catherine also had 2 sons.  Their children were Helen (Ellen) Leask born 10/23/1865, Elizabeth (Maggie) Colvin- born 8/6/1867 (mother of: Ina Covin born 1907 and Maggie Covin born 1904.), Laurence Leask-born in 1869 who married Isabella Ingram in 1897, and my grandfather John M. Leask, Sr., Katherine (Kate) Leask born 3/8/1881 and Mary Jane Leask born 2/13/1885.  Helen, Katherine and Mary Jane never married.  Elizabeth (Maggie) Covin’s husband Gavin Covin died at sea in about 1916.  Her daughter, known to us as Maggie Jamison kept contact with the family here in the US.  Laurence and Isabella lived in Lieth.  They had one daughter, Isabella known as Bella.

Laurence (#112213) Leask-born 1837-Sandwick, the father of John M. Leask, Sr., had 3 siblings: a brother: James (#73685) Leask-born 1835; a sister Margaret (#112220) Leask-born 1839 in Sandwick, and another brother George (#112222) Leask-born 1850 in Sandwick.  The three brothers George, James and Laurence married three Sisters, the daughters of John (#112206) McPherson.  George married Elizabeth McPherson, James married Sarah (#73686) McPherson, and Laurence married Catherine McPherson-born December 11, 1840 born Brough, Dunrossness..  The brother of John M. Leask, Sr-George Leask and his wife Elizabeth took care of two nieces named Goudie.  They lived in Detroit Michigan near John M. Leask, Sr. Margaret Leask married Thomas Flause who died in Death Valley (US) in 1909.  They had one son who lived in California.  James (#73685) Leask and Sarah (#73686) McPherson had five children according to my mother’s records: George (#73687) Leask-born12/19/1865, Elizabeth (#45657) Leask-born 2/29/1870, John Leask, James (#73688) and Sarah (#27326) Leask.  Elizabeth (#45657) Leask married George (#67116) Smith, a wool merchant.  In the records of the Shetland Family Historical Society James Leask had only four Children.  John Leask is not recorded as a child of James (#73865) Leask and Sarah (#73686) McPherson in these records.  Sarah (#73686) McPherson was the daughter of John McPherson and Hellen Goudie.

Laurence (#112213) Leask’s father, grandfather of John M. Leask, Sr., was George Leask (#112219) born 1810 in Ireland, Bigton.  George died 2/25/1880 in Sandwick.  George’s first wife was Elizabeth Johnson Mouat (#89421) born October 13, 1813. Elizabeth was mother of George’s children James (#73685) Leask-born 1835, Laurence (#112213) Leask and Margaret (#112220) Leask. Elizabeth died in childbirth (before 1850) when Laurence was still young.  Elizabeth’s father was Laurence Mouat (#28488) and her mother was Elizabeth Colvin (#89416). The Mouat family ceased having anything to do with Lawrence or his brother and sister after Elizabeth Johnson Mouat’s death.  Lawrence’s father then married Agnes Sutherland (about 1849).  Agnes and George had a son George Leask-born 1850 who was a sailor who died in Detroit in 1916.  Laurence’s father George died July 25, 1880, his death was recorded in Sandwick; According to oral family history Laurence Mouat was the ‘Lord of Cullister.’

Laurence Mouat was reputed in family history to be the Laird or Lord of Cullistar.  He was a significant land owner but no evidence has been found he was a Lord or Laird.

John (#112206) McPherson, father-in-law of Laurence (#112213) Leask, father of Laurences wife Catherine (#112212) McPherson married Helen (#112207) Goudie.  His second wife was Christine Jamieson.  John McPherson had two sons: John and James.  John McPherson’s son John moved the US and then settled in Vancouver Canada.  He was married but had no children.  John McPherson’s son James went to California.  James’ son John died while working on the Golden Gate Bridge.  James’ son James was a successful dentist who lived in San Francisco.  Catherine’s mother was Helen (#112207) Goudie.

George Leask (#112219), grandfather of John M. Leask, Sr., father or Laurence Leask (#1122213), had four siblings.  His oldest brother was William Leask (#121129)-born October 6, 1794 in Ireland, Bigton, Dunrossness.  His sister Agnes Leask (#121130) was born about 1801.  His brother James Leask (#71612) was born in 1809.  His brother Thomas Leask (#121131) was born January 11, 1813 in Ireland, Bigton, Dunrosssness.  George’s father was James Leask (#121127) born in Sandwick in 1767.  George’s mother was Martha Aitken (#121128) born before 1774.  James Leask and Martha Aitken were married in February of 1794.  George (#121219) was born 1810 in Ireland, Bigton, Shetland.  He died 7/25/1880 Sandwick, Shetland.

James Leask (#121127), great grandfather of John M. Leask, Sr., had five siblings.  His oldest sibling was Margaret Leask (#74543).  James Leask (#121127) was born second, in 1767 in Sandwick.  Next born was Thomas Leask (#121132) born 1769, Sandwick.  A forth sibling (? Leask) was born in Sandwick 1774.   A fifth sibling, Katherine Leask (#121134) was born in Sandwick 1777.    His sixth sibling was David Leask (#121135) born in Sandwick 1781.  James (#121127) Leask’s father was John (#121125) Leask, born in 1741.   James (#121127) Leask’s mother was Marjory  (#121126) Black, born before 1743.  John (#121125) Leask and Marjory (#121126) Black were married June 4, 1762.  John (#121135) was great-great grandfather of John M. Leask, Sr.

Tommy Goudie, Shetland Historical Society