Category Archives: Questions for Open Study

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)