There are three possible origins for this unusual English name. The first is topographical, and would denote someone who lived at or by the "lees" from the Middle English, meaning fields, meadows or grassy plains. The second possible source is locational from any of the various places named from the Old English pre 7th century "leas" woods or clearings, such as Lees near Ashton-under-Lyne and Leece near Barrow-in-Furness. Locational names were given to the lord of the manor or to those who moved from that place to live or work in another village or town. The third origin is from the English medieval female personal name "Lece" a contracted form of "Lettice" from the Latin "Laetitia" meaning "happiness, gaiety". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godfrey Lece which was dated 1296, in the "The Subsidy Rolls of Sussex" during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots" 1272 - 1307 Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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