The Ley or Leigh
family of Clonaugh, county Kildare
This Ley family originated in the family of physicians of Galway, according to some versions, although there are more convincing arguments for describing the family as being English, as according to the writer of this piece in 1896, their family arms and crest resemble those of other English Legh/Leigh families (presumably the writer refers to the arms of William Legh, of the Boothes, named in an Edward IV Roll; Azure, two bars argent, over all a bendlet counter compony or and gules); they always used English first names for their children; and the one known as John the Interpreter described himself as an Englishman who spoke perfect Irish.
The lands of the family were along the northern border of county Kildare, and overlapped into county Meath and Westmeath.
In some of the early documents quoted in the Kildare Archaeological Society Journal Vol II p 133, and Vol II, p 354, from 1896, John is named as John Aley, which is not one of the names associated with the Norman invasion, but a version of the Saxon name 'At Ley'.
Aley may have been seen by some Irish historians as being derived from O'Laoi, or Mac an Leagha (McAlee), whence, together with the family's vaunted fluency in Irish, the confusion regarding the gaelic origins of the family.
The possible Saxon origin of the name Aley was first described by Reaney in his book published in 1958, and may not have been known to this author.
The earliest record, according to Burke, is of Francis Maclaoighsigh, Maclysach, Maclye, or Lye, who obtained a grant of lands of Holy Cross in Offaly in 1551, and was granted English liberty in 1552.
According to GO Ms Anglo-Irish III p 178, his eldest son was John Ley of Rathbride in co Meath, who died 17th or 7th May 1612, and whose will was proved on 5 July, 1612, and is buried in Kildare cathedral.
He had a castle at Clonaugh, county Kildare, which is now Johnstownbridge.
His will names his brothers Arthur and Henry, his wife, Amy, daughter of George Fitzgerald, and sister of Sir Edward Fitzgerald of Tererogin, in co Kildare, [Tircroghan co Meath?] gent. John had a bastard son, Edward Ley, and by his wife, he had;
John Ley of Rathbride, who was in favour with Charles I, and was a faithful subject during the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. He married a Miss Dowdall, and died intestate about 1660, when letters of administration were taken out on his property; Andrew Ley, a minor in 1612; Catherine, who married James Fitzgerald of Osberstown; Mary; Margaret; Mabel; Bridget; Amy; and Ellinor.
John Ley of Rathbride, used the name Leigh, and his children were;
Francis Leigh of Rathbride, Esquire, who was heir to the family property, supported King James II, and had his lands confiscated in 1691, after the Jacobite war. By his wife, Judith, daughter of Henry Spencer, whom he married in February 1662, Francis had two sons: Robert, the eldest, who went abroad with Charles II during his exile, and later had the family lands restored, and who wrote about co Wexford in a survey of Ireland published by William Molyneaux in 1685, died in 1724, without leaving an heir; and Francis, who succeeded Robert as head of the family, and died in 1751;
Andrew Leigh of Innstown, Esquire, will 12 Oct 1703, proved 30 Nov 1706,
Judith, will 29 April 1700, proved 24 July 1707, and
Robert, probably the one recorded in Dublin in 1666, will 6 Feb 1731, proved 1739.
Leigh of Rosegarland
Francis Leigh of Rathbride, co Meath, (or Kildare, in some versions; the property is partly in both counties) Esquire, who was heir to the family property, supported King James II, and had his lands confiscated in 1691, by King William of Orange, after the Jacobite war. Francis had two sons: Robert, the eldest, who wrote about co Wexford in a survey of Ireland published by William Molyneaux in 1685, died in 1724, without leaving an heir; and Francis, who succeeded Robert as head of the family, and died in 1751.
He had these children;
John Leigh of Rosegarland; Andrew Leigh; Cecilia, who married Joseph Leeson, son of Edward of Milltown; Mary; Judith, will dated 10 August 1781, proved 1 March 1788; and
The eldest son, John Leigh of Rosegarland, co Wexford, Esquire, married Mary, on 2 February 1751, and his prerogative will is dated 27 Sept 1758.
His only son, Lt Col Robert Leigh, who died in 1802, married Arabella, daughter of Robert Lester of Glaslough in Monaghan on 9 February 1750 and had a son Francis, who had two sons, John Robert, and Francis of Sion, who was High Sheriff in 1837. John Robert had a son, Francis Augustus, of Rosegarland, who was a Justice of the Peace, and was High Sheriff in 1867.