This interesting surname of English origin is a locational name from any of numerous places in at least sixteen counties, but especially Leigh in Lancashire, deriving from the Old English pre 7th Century "leah" meaning "wood" or "clearing", hence "dweller by the wood or clearing". The surname Leigh is most common in Cheshire and Southern Lancashire. A Cheshire family spelling the name Legh claim descent from Edward de Lega, who received large grants of land in the county in the 11th Century. Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Lee, Lea, Ley, Leys, Lay, Laye, Lye, etc.. Alexander Legh (died 1501) received an M.A. having studied at Eton and Kings College, Cambridge. He became Canon of Windsor in 1469 and was employed on embassies to Scotland in 1474 and later years. One Margarett Legh married William Denny in February 1710 at Mercer Hall Chapel, London and Henrietta Maria, daughter of Peter and Martha Legh was christened at St. Anne Soho, Westminster on March 11th 1744. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ailrick de la Leic, which was dated 1148 "Facimiles of early Charters from Northamptonshire Collections", during the reign of King Stepen, "Count of Blois", 1135 - 1154. 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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