From Where in Scotland Does the Family Originate?

As you can see by looking at the Scotland Family Tree, which combines a great deal of research with original Scottish records, we have a pretty good idea from where the family originated.

In Glasgow, Scotland

Before his immigration to America, James Brown MacLea was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1859. He was one of at least seven children of Peter and Janet McLea, residing in the Calton and Hutchesontown districts there.

James Brown MacLea was the grandson of John McLea, who, like his son Peter and his father-in-law Peter/Patrick, was a blacksmith and bell hanger.

Out of the Isle of Bute

John's origins are not known with certainty, but in the course of my research using the Scottish records, I have come to the conclusion that, like his wife Janet McKay (1795-1870), he came from Rothesay, a city on the Isle of Bute. You can learn more about the Isle here. The Isle is on the western coast of Scotland, not too far from Greenock, on the mainland, and Glasgow, farther to the north.

Looking back at the earliest Old Parish Records for the parish of Rothesay, on Bute, we can find MacLeas on the island from its earliest (recorded) times. Indeed, you can see two examples of this, with an early form of the name McLea, McOnLea, here:

http://kitenet.net (from 25 Nov 1694)http://kitenet.net (from 2 Nov 1695)

So, it seems likely that the McLeas lived on Bute from at least the medieval period.

You can learn more about the evidence for John's origins on the Isle of Bute by visiting his page.

In the Mists of Time

You can read my speculation on the Ancient Origins of the family on that page. In brief, there are two options for where the family originated from before their arrival on Bute. Possible origins include elsewhere in Argyll, Scotland, where they may represent a cadet of the Clan McLea. Alternatively, they may have newly arrived from Ireland. Indeed, Genetic genealogy shows strong ties between our family line and that of Irish McCains, as well as other families from Argyll. So, it is unclear which migration is more likely, but for now, we keep both hypotheses for further testing and analysis.

To America

To learn about the travel of James Brown McLea and his wife Margaret Turner McLea to North America, there is a separate page on migration. In brief, it appears that the family traveled from Glasgow to Canada and then through Canada to Chicago. From Chicago, where they lived for a time, they moved to Paterson, N.J. From Paterson, after Margaret's death, they moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. From Cambridge, the family spread throughout Massachusetts and beyond over the ensuing years. This history is the story of those descendants, and the ancestors of James as well.