This page is a place to collect family stories and tales that are not easily recordable on other pages in the wiki. This page contains the recent tales (the last ten entries) that have been sent to Kyle or that he has found in records or his own memory. Please contribute your own tales!

If you want to look at the complete archive of family lore and tales, at least as much as has been recorded here, see the Tales Archive.

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EXTRACT OF LETTER TO ROBERT MOFFAT from David Livingstone 12 September 1855

"Our family is reported to have been rather famous for quick learning among Highland chieftains' sons, and like one of our ancestors on his death bed, who told the assembled circle of friends that he had made diligent search and never could hear of one of the Livingstons having been a thief, I never heard of one who was a donkey."

An alternative version of this story was published in an 1887 newspaper (haven't found the citation yet):

"Dr. Livingstone, the famous explorer, was descended from the Highlanders, and he said that one of his ancestors one day called his family around him. He was dying and had all of his children around his death-bed. He said: 'Now, lads, I have looked all through our history as far back as I can find it, and I have never found a dishonest man in all the line, and I want you to understand that you inherit good blood. You have no excuse for doing wrong. Be honest.'"

The Livingstones are the name used today for the great majority of those of MacLea heritage, like myself. --Kyle=

Posted Tue Apr 22 22:36:06 2014

I received this note from Peter Nardozzi* on 5 November 2006, and he related some stories of the MacLea family. I have edited it slightly and include it below.*

Ritchie, one of your Grandfather's brothers was a Quarterback for Stoughton High school, high state passing scorer. He was known as "Mucka MacLea," received a full football scholarship to Dartmouth. He never took it, possibly because of his girlfriend(?). (That wasn't unusual in those years, leaving home and all.)

Our "common ancestor," my "grandpa MacLea" I loved to visit because he raised English Setters in kennels behind the house in Stoughton. I'll snap a picture of the house at Thanksgiving and send it to you.

I can remember Christmas at Grandpa and Grandma's, Thanksgivings, I can remember Grandpa's wake and then Grandma sold the house and Ritchie moved her up to west Stoughton and into a trailer there. I visited her there all through high school, college, and marriage, before she moved down the Cape [Cod] to be near Ritchie.

I am still working on the story about the trip to Scotland, since it was before I had a computer or digital camera so I have to do it all from memory.

By the way, the last contact I had with your dad, was 1975. I had bought an old home in Sharon, Massachusetts and was remodeling and restoring it. I purchased a large antique stained glass window, from a old theater in Vermont.

Your Dad and Uncle Donnie cut out the two dining room windows and replaced them with this floor to ceiling stained glass. It was beautiful and when I sold the house the Realty people marvelled at the carpentry. Your father was a skilled craftsman.

Peter added a little more about the motivation for his trip to Scotland, and sent it to me on 2 Dec 06. Here is the edited version.

My wife is a well-known spinner and weaver in Maine. Sandie, a Berkeley-graduated art major, became intested in fiber when we moved to Maine. Since then she has become an accomplished and award-winning Fiber Artist. She purchases raw fleeces from sheep farmers, washes them, combs them, dyes them (with all natural dyes), and then spins the wool. She then weaves and knits her handspun wool into various articles. Sandie strongly encourged my trip and we were able to combine my family trip looking for MacLeas with her craft and its origin in Scotland.

More from Peter on his trip to Scotland will be included in a later "Tales" update. Kyle=

Posted Tue Apr 22 22:36:06 2014
Ignore this page.
Posted Tue Apr 22 22:36:06 2014

From Peter Nardozzi, with minor editing by Kyle MacLea, the tale of his trip to Scotland, in abbreviated form. 13 Dec 2006.

I can't find our itinerary, didn't have a digital camera or computer, and my memory's gone, yada yada yada. But here it is in short form from the archives of my mind.

I already explained Sandie's motivation [was to look at Scottish fiber arts] and mine was to find information about the MacLeas [in the home country]. Before we left I had read a long book on Robert the Bruce, and was looking forward to visiting some of the battlefields.

We spent some time in London and then took the train for a wonderful ride through the country and arrived in Edinburgh. I rented a car(wrong side of road) and almost hit my first parked car while attempting to find our accommodation for that evening. While in Edinburgh we stayed at the University dormitories, and had a fun time with all of the different eclectic venues of the annual International Fringe Festival.

While there we also visited the Castle, watched the changing of the Guard, and talked to the author of a book we had bought, Scottish Clan and Family Names, Roddy Martine. He sent us to the Court of the Lord Lyon--where we found our first information about the Mac Leas, a small Highland Clan (now called Livingstons or Livingstones, in most cases) from the Isle of Lismore and Western Argyll who originally bore this Gaelic spelling spelled in different ways.

We made phone calls along the way in our travels, but only talked to Mac Leas that we found in phone books. There weren't many but we chatted with a few, explained who we were and why.

We then drove all over Scotland, taking many back roads, for two weeks, passing through the moors, collecting specimens of heather, avoiding sheep (there were no fences), crossed over small mountains, and passed delightful villages with homes surrounded by beautiful hybrid Roses.

We stayed in Bed and Breakfast guest homes, a Hunting Lodge near the King's private preserves (in the a.m. after breakfast a small party of Hunters arrived dressed in Sport Jackets and knickers with a pack of hounds for a Hunt) and a Castle where we had afternoon Tea and a 6-course evening meal served by staff in formal tuxedos.

The other days we stayed in small Scottish Hotels, ending up in a Holiday Inn in Glasgow.

On the trip, besides just exploring and buying sweaters, hats, and Scotch, we visited two Distilleries (sampled the single malt scotch), many sheep farms, several pubs, a Shakespearean performance in an old Roman Amphitheater, and squeezed in a visit to Loch Ness (no signs of Nessie, though).

One day we took a trip to St. Andrews, walked around some of the course and I borrowed a club and had my pictured taken on the 18th hole in front of the OLD Clubhouse with 2 Japanese Business men (Millionaires I'm sure).

Our most extensive time was spent in Sterling were I went to the actual Bannockburn Battlefield were Robert the Bruce had defeated Edward II. I spent quite a lot of time there finding landmarks from the book and in the Heritage visiting center and close by at the William Wallace Monument.

The next day, Sandie spent it at the Scottish Wool Centre in Aberfoyle were she attended a showing of different breeds of sheep. She spent time in their various departments. She was invited to sit and spin with two women on both an old and a modern wheel. She attended various demonstrations of combing, dyeing, etc. Before leaving she bought two fleeces, one of a new breed "LOMAN" and one a "Highland Blackface." We were able to bring both of these uncleaned raw "in the grease" fleeces through U.S. customs (unheard-of now). She later washed, clean and dyed the Loman, and won 3 Blue Ribbons for her hand knitted socks.

We ended the trip by driving across to the Isle of Skye, staying and having a wild night of drinking copious pints of room temperature beer and singing with a bunch of sailors in a waterfront pub. The next day we took the ferry to the mainland on the other side and drove to Glasgow.

In Glasgow, a MacLea met us at a restaurant, and after a brief chat in which we talked about my grandmother, grandfather, mothers and Uncle's sense of humor he made a suggestion. He recommended that we go to the Glasgow Theater and see "Lexi" (?????) a well-known Scottish comedian. My wife is a fan of Billy Connolly, an irreverent TV comedian in the US, so we bought tickets and attended.

One hour and a half later we walked out of the theater, which had been filled all evening with roaring continuous belly laughs, scratching our heads. I didn't get anything. Sandie, my wife, said she got few a pokes at the Queen, when she could get by the brogue. Humor is an ethnic subjective event anyway, but it's definitely made even more difficult with accents.

We flew out the next day to Boston. You most do this with your wife some day, we planned and booked everything ourselves.

Peter Nardozzi, to Kyle MacLea, 13 Dec 2006.

Posted Tue Apr 22 22:36:06 2014

David Livingstone's Heritage

More David Livingstone, a similar theme from the last post about Dr. Livingstone, this time from The Life and Labors of David Livingstone, 1875.

"There are names that live, and should live. Like the men who make them honorable, there are names which do good, carrying light and strength. There are names about which systems, and histories, and ideal realms of wondrous beauty are; which incite mankind to lofty enterprise, and impart confidence and fortitude and zeal. There are names which honor a world's remembrance. It is well and creditable for the world that some men are never forgotten. But of all, there is no life-work brighter and truer and loftier than that in the service of humanity, and the service of humanity is perfected ill the dignity of Christian effort. Among the securest favorites of history, the worthiest arc those who lived for others, and loved and labored under the impulses of the gospel.

"Such a man was David Livingstone. His child-life was at Blantyre, by the beautiful Clyde, above Glasgow, in Scotland. He was born there in the year 1813. The humble home entertained some proud traditions, treasured through eight generations of the family. The young David listened with bounding heart and growing spirit, while his grandfather told the histories and legends of the olden time.

"Culloden was in the story. His great-grandfather fell there, fighting for the old line of kings; and 'Ulva Dark,' the family home, had been there. Old Gaelic songs trembled off the lips of his grandmother, beguiling the social hours. There was the spirit of heroism in the home. And among the traditions there were those of singular virtue and integrity. He classed the dying precept of a hardy ancestor the proudest distinction of his family: that precept was, 'be honest.' Honesty is a matchless birthright; he claimed it; he was not proud of anything else. His father was a man of 'unflinching honesty,' and was employed by Montieth & Co., proprietors of Blantyre Works, in conveying very large sums of money from Glasgow, and by the honorable kindness of their firm his integrity was so rewarded that his declining years were spent where he had lived, in ease and comfort. He was a man who kept the hearts of his children. His kindness and real love were sweeter to them than all that wealth sometimes bestows as its peculiar gift. He brought his children up religiously; it was in connection with the Kirk of Scotland. It is a beautiful tribute of his illustrious son:

"'My father deserved my lasting gratitude and homage for presenting me from my infancy with a continuously consistent pious example. I revere his memory.' The mother of the man appears only, and passes from the public view. She was a quiet, loving, industrious, self-denying, praying mother. God knows how to choose mothers for the chosen men. This mother was the mother of a great and good man. She was a women who, by her virtue and modesty, and fortitude and courage, could bear a hero and inspire him for his destiny. 'An anxious house-wife, striving to make both ends meet,' found time and place to exert a true woman's singular and mighty influence upon her little boy. We will not presume to estimate the magnitude of that influence. We will not say how much his home had to do with the singular thoughtfulness and distinguished precocity of the child that toiled all day long in the mill with tbe hundreds who worked there. David Livingstone was only ten years old when he was put into the factory. People ought not to despise little factory-boys. He worked from six in the morning until eight at night; that makes fourteen hours a day, and a child just ten years of age. There were very good schools at Blantyre; the teachers were paid twenty-five pounds a year. The schools were free to the children of the working people. David had been in one of these schools."

--The life and labors of David Livingstone, LL. D., D.C.L., covering his entire career in Southern and Central Africa. Carefully prepared from the most authentic sources ... The whole rendered clear and plain by a most accurate map of the whole region explored and the routes clearly indicated by J E Chambliss

Posted Tue Apr 22 22:36:06 2014

Some Collected Ancient Mentions of the Surname McLea or Similar

With help from Barra McCain!

Placed prominently at the top of the second column of a list of those massacred at Dunaverty, 1647, supporting the MacDougalls, were these "Mc Leas":

Iain Mc Iain Vc ein dui alias Mc onlea, Dunsla M'ein Vc onlea and Iain M'onlea, his brother (Highland Papers, II, p. 257).

(By the way, i have confirmed that the spelling Mc onlea was an early form of Mac Lea used among the McLeas who lived on the Isle of Bute, from whence I believe my family came as well, so though this has been shown for other McLeas, I believe it also applies to my family in particular. The early parish records from the 1690s confirm this, and I have seen them on film and can confirm.)

In modern Gaelic,

Iain M'Ein Vc ein dui alias M'onlea

is the name: Eáin Mac Eáin Mhic Eáin Dubh, also known as Mac An Leagha

then down below you have his brothers. Dunlsa and Iain. Dunsla is probably Dunlevy, i.e. Dunnsliebhe and Iain of couse is Eáin.

And in looking at the Highland Papers, Rob Livingston, who died in 2005, had said: "I was surprised to see that there is a fourth McOnlea on the list - "Donald M'conochie Vc neill alias M'Onlea"

I also received this file from Ian Ross which might be useful at some point. I'm not 100% clear on its provenance or the quality of the research. But apparently it was researched by Mr. Ivan McClay in Belfast, sometime back in th 1950s or 60s. He's been gone for some time, but his work is in the collection of PRONI.

Here is the link to the M records at PRONI:

And the specific record in question: McClay (depositor) genealogical documents T/2964

From these records, the write postulates that the family of N. Irish McClays/McLay/etc. is descended from Baron McLea of Lindsaig mentioned in the 1743 ?Account of McLea. There is at least a decent chance that our own family descends from the same.

One thing that makes me wonder is Ivan's statement in an extract of a letter from Ivan McClay to a family member:

"I am descended from a branch of your family in the north west. The surmame originally was MAC AN LEAGH 'son of the physician', they being a hereditary medical family. The last Barron McLea had 3 sons, who settled in Ulster during the reign of Charles 1. In Northern Ireland the name was spelt McClea , McLea, McKlea, McClay and once McLeagh. The two brothers lived opposite one another on the banks of the river Foyle, in 1630 John McClay yeoman to Sir John Wilson of Wilsons Castle, Ballindrait and Andrew McClay yeoman to Sir George Hamilton of Mountcastle, Donaghedy. During the 1641-9 revolution they went to Londonderry, like a lot of Scots families in the north west. After the war John McClay, your ancestor, settled in the Waterside, Glendermott Parish. The family belonged to Glendermott Presbyterian Church and also in later years Donaghedy Presbyterian Church.

"The other sibling of your ancestor, Andrew McClay yeoman, after the 1641-49 war, got the lease of a townland in Fahan parish in Innishowen and there was no Presbyteraian church there until later years, so they were Church of Ireland or protestent.

"The surname in Scotland is spelt McLay and MacLay, so where you see the surname spelt McClea and McClay, you know they come from Northern Ireland, descended from the three brothers. A branch of our family in Donaghedy Parish spelt their surname both ways, McClea and McClay. A number went to America, but descendants in the female line are still there. One family who inherited a McClea/McClay farm showed me letters which were written by girls in Philedelphia about 1840. In one letter they would spell the name McClea and in another McClay. One went to New Zealand and he wrote a number of poems and signed them McClay and his family out there spell it McClea. A branch of the Fahan family went to the goldfields in Australia and settled in New Zealand and changed their name to McClea there. Most surnames, one can spell a number of ways."

Research by Robert A. MacLeay Jr., Ramsey NJ

The following excerpts are from The Surnames of Scotland Their origin, meanings, and history, by George Black, PHD, New York Public Library, 1946. They were collected for the book from articles which originally appeared in the Bulletin of the New York Public Library, August 1943 through September 1946.

MACLAE, MACLAY, MACCLAY, MACLEA, MACLEAY. These names are commonly but incorrectly explained as from G. Mac an leigh. This is merely popular etymology due to the belief that the name means 'son of the physician,' and that the Macleays of western Sutherland are descended from Ferchard Leche, who had a grant of lands in Assynt, 1386. The full form of the name is MacDhunnshleibhe, 'son of Donnshleibhe,' as explained under DUNSLEVE, q.v. In a royal commission of 1498 King James III directed certain persons to distrain the lands and goods of Kenyoch M'Conleif and Donald M'Conleif, co-raiders with Chisholm of Comar of the lands of Huchone Ros of Kilrawok (OPS., II, p. 527). Kenzoch or Kennitus M'Coleif held the king's lands of Cumree ( Comrie ) in Strathconon in 1504 (ER., XII, p. 663), behind Tor Achilty, where tradition placed the seat of the clan. John M'Ewin V' Dunslef appears at Sonnachan, Argyllshire, in 1502 (Notes and queries, 11 July, 1931, p. 21), and Finla Makgillecallum Makcolluf and John Roy M'Culloiff were tenants under Stewart of Appin in 1509 (Stewarts of Appin, p. 193). In 1518 the "clane McDowleanis" (an error for M'Donvleavis ) gave their bond of manrent to Sir John Campbell of Caldor (Cauwdor, p. 129). The names given in the bond are: Duncan Brec McDunlane, and Jhone Mcdoulane 'his broder.' Dunslane McNeill is one of the parties to the bond, and in all three instances -laue has been misread -lane. John McYndayn McCollef is mentioned in 1519 (ibid., p. 131). Odoni Makdouill Makdunlane [i.e. Makdunlaue] had a remission in 1524, and a son of Duncan M'Dunlewe was appointed minister of the two parishes of Killespic-Kerrill and Kilmaronock in 1541 (HMC., 2 Rep., p. 193). The northern Macleays were known to Sir Robert Gordon as the clan Leajwe; while thereafter they are known in record as Makley (in Alness 1651), M'Ley (in Contin 1677). Macleays were numerous in early times in Easter and Wester Ross and in Argyll. Of the southern Macleays was Jo. M'Ey V'Dunlaif in North Argyll, 1570 (Cawdor, p. 177). A cautioner was found for John McClay in Ayrshire, 1584 ( RPC., III, p. 714), and Donald M'Collea was one of Dunolly's men in 1588 ( RPC., IV, p. 265), and Duncan M'Collea appears in same year (ibid., p. 333). Patrik M'Conlea in Finran was fined for reset of members of Clan Gregor in 1613 (ibid., xn, p. 631), and Donald M'Onleif was servitor to Allan Cameron of Locheil in same year (RMS. VII, 871) . Donald M'Clae was burgess of Glasgow by purchase, 1617 (Burgesses), and Duncan Dow McDonochie Brec alias McDonnslae and John McEane Dow VcDonochie Brec alias McDonnslae were charged with assault and cattle-stealing, 1623 (RPC., XIII, p. 270-271). Mc onlea is a common record spelling of the name, and its derivation is clearly shown by the name of Dounslea Mconlea, tenant of Schewnay, 1669 (HP., IV, p. 222). Donald roy M'Onlay appears in Lunga, 1633 (Notes and queries, 18 July, 1931, p. 44). Findlay McClay and Malcolm McClay appear in Drakies in 1646 (More Culloden Papers, p. 50), and Dunsla M'ein Vc onlea and Iain M'onlea, his brother, were among those massacred at Dunaverty, 1649 ( HP., II, p. 257). Duncan Mc onlea was bailie of Rothesay, 1662 (ibid., III, p. 12), and another Duncan M'Onlea was burgess of Paisley, 1667 (Isles). Iain Mc onlew was tenant of Torisay, Mull, 1669 (HP., IV, p. 223), and Duncan M'Onlea, Duncan M'Dunslea, and Neill M'Dimslea ( an error for Dunslea) appear in Islay, 1686 (Bk. Islay, p. 508, 511). William Livingston, the Islay bard, always wrote his name in Gaelic M'Dhunleibhe, and Dr. David Livingstone, the African traveller, was a Macdonleavy of Ulva. Allan Dall gives another popular etymology of the name, which he makes to mean 'son of John the grey-haired,'

"Thagrainn cairdeas Mhic-Iain-Léithe

'S gur dìleas do m' chinneadh féin e,

Sheasadh air gach cnoc le chéile,

Nuair a dh' éireadh iad gu strì."

DUNSLEVE. G. Donnsléibhe or Donnshléibhe, for early Gaelic Duinslebe, 'brown of the hill.' An old personal name among the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland, and a favorite forename with the Macquarries of Ulva (Dunslaf 1505 Downsleif 1517). The duke of Argyll has shown that in old Argyll rentals 'd' drops out, and also the 's' by euphonic elision, the name becoming (with Mac-) M'Onlave, M'Dunlave, M'inlay and M'An-lei or M'Onlea which became Maclay. In one document the name Dunslave M'Dunslave is found, clearly showing that the origin of the name lay in a forename (CR., VI, p. 19l). Dunslene (for Dunsleue, second u = v) frater Murchardi was one of the witnesses to the confirmation by Walter, earl of Menthet of the gift of the church of Colmanel to the church of Paisley, 1262 (RMP., p. 122) . Between 1303-09 James, son of Dunsleph, received a grant of lands in Kintyre from Robert the Bruce for his forensic service of a ship with twenty-six oars with men and victuals pertaining to the same (RMS., I, App. I, 105). Dunslane (for Dunslaue) McNeill is one of the parties to a Macdonleavie bond of 1518. Dunsleve, son of Aedh Alain, through his son Suibhne or Swene was ancestor of the MacSuibhnes or Macewens of Otter, and also the common ancestor of the Lamonts and the Maclachlans (CR., VI, p. 19l).

In 1518 the "clane McDowleanis" (an error for M'Donvleavis ) gave their bond of manrent to Sir John >Campbell of Caldor (Cauwdor, p. 129). The names given in the bond are: Duncan Brec McDunlane, and Jhone >Mcdoulane 'his broder.' Dunslane McNeill is one of the parties to the bond, and in all three instances >-laue has been misread -lane. John McYndayn McCollef is mentioned in 1519 (ibid., p. 131). Odoni >Makdouill Makdunlane [i.e. Makdunlaue] had a remission in 1524, and a son of Duncan M'Dunlewe was >appointed minister of the two parishes of Killespic-Kerrill and Kilmaronock in 1541 (HMC., 2 Rep., p. >193).

This is interesting as that Campbell Caldor family later comes into the story as a descendant of the John above was John Campbell laird of Islay 1618 to 1625 and his son was Laird after him, both men very active in north Antrim.

  1. "Google" 1630 Muster Roll Donegal: shows a John McCley under Sr. John Willson. Per research of others ,this McClay appears to be one of the 3 sons of the last baron McLea of Lindsaig, who left Scotland per the McLea manuscript.

  2. "Google" 1665 Hearth Money Roll Donegal: lists a Wm.M'clae (Kilmacrenan barrony, Aghanunshen parish) and a James M'clae (same barrony, Tullayferne parish).

  3. "Google" 1796 Spinning Wheel List Donegal: several McClays listed, inc. John (Aghanshin) and Archie, Sam, etc. (Conwal. an adjacent parish).

I was also sent the 1688, 1751, and 1802 Argyll Valuation Rolls which show the Lindsaig and Lismore McLeas as landowners.

Posted Tue Apr 22 22:36:06 2014