Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Leith Name
Origins of Leith:
This intriguing name is of old Scottish origin and is geographical from the coastal town of Leith near Edinburgh, which derives its name from the river at whose mouth it exists, and acquirs from the Gaelic ‘lite’ which means moist, and is similar to the Welsh ‘llaith’, which means misty or wet. There are reported to be three stories as to the origin of the Leiths, the first being that they held the barony of Restalrig. Secondly, that they were citizens of Edinburgh, who gave their name to Leith Wynd, and thirdly, that the head of the family of Leith of Harthill, in the Church of Oyne, was William de Lethe, citizen of Aberdeen. The following examples represent the name advancement after 1342. Laurence de Leth (1388), Robert de Leithe (1406), Leithe (1641), James Leith married Christian Watson in December 1670 at Canongate, Midlothian.
More common variations are: Lewith, Leithy, Leithe, Leitha, Leitho, Leuith, Leaith, Leth, Lith, Loewith.
The surname Leith first appeared in the district of Edinburgh at Leith, a burgh, and sea-port town.
The very first recorded spelling of the family was shown to be that of Gilbert of Leth, dated about 1327, in the Edinburgh, Scotland. It was during the time of King Robert 1, who was known to be the “The Bruce,” dated 1306-1329. The origin of surnames during this period became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation.
Many of the people with name Leith had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.
United States of America:
Individuals with the surname Leith landed in the United States in three different centuries respectively in the 17th, 18th, and 19th. Some of the people with the name Leith who arrived in the United States in the 17th century included James Leith, who came to Maryland in 1665.
Individuals with the surname Leith who landed in the United States in the 18th century included William Leith, who arrived in Virginia in 1714. Alexander Leith, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746. Alexander Leith settled in Annapolis in the year 1760. James and John Leith settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1768.
The following century saw much more Leith surnames arrive. Some of the people with the surname Leith who arrived in the United States in the 19th century included Henry Leith, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1846. J C F Leith at the age of 58, landed in New York, NY in 1867.
People with the surname Leith who settled in Canada in the 19th century included Henry Leith arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship “Leslie Gault” in 1834.
Some of the individuals with the surname Leith who landed in Australia in the 19th century included Frederick Leith arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship “John” in 1840. William Leith at the age of 27, arrived in South Australia in the year 1854 aboard the ship “Pestonjee Bomanjee.”
Some of the population with the surname Leith who arrived in New Zealand in the 19th century included George Leith at the age of 27 arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship “Reiherstieg” in 1864
Here is the population distribution of the last name Leith: United Stats 2,931; England 1,699; South Africa 1,315; Scotland 912; Canada 876; Australia 652; New Zealand 462; Germany 269; Mexico 157; Trinidad and Tobago 153.
Belinda Leith was a British musician.
Charles Kenneth Leith was an American geologist.
Damien Leith (born 1976), is an Irish-born Australian musician and composer.
Emmett Leith (1927–2005), was an American scientist and electrical engineer.
James Leith (VC) (1826–1869), was a British fighter and participant of the Victoria Cross.
John H. Leith (1919–2002), was an American philosopher.
Lloyd Leith (1902–1974), was an American basketball referee and coach.
Prue Leith (born 1940), is a South African-born restaurateur, TV announcer and cookery author.
Leith Coat of Arms Meaning
The two main devices (symbols) in the Leith blazon are the cross crosslet fitchee and fusil. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, gules and or .
Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur . In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known . Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy .
The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” . Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron , perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa . The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo..
No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross . Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. Since no two arms could be identical there arose many variants of the cross. The cross crosslet is one of these, having an additional cross bar on each arm. Wade suggests that these additional crossing signify “the fourfold mystery of the Cross”. The final addition fitchee simply means pointed, and indicates that the lower end is pointed, as if it is to be struck into the ground.
The fusil is a shape rather like a lozenge but taller and narrower, hence fusily refers to a field of similar shapes arranged in a regulat pattern. It is though that the shape originally derived from that of a spindle of yarn. Wade believes that the symbol is of very great age and quotes an earlier writer, Morgan who ascribes it the meaning of “Negotiation”.