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In the Middle Ages, Lesley was a common vernacular form of the feminine name Lettice (Laetitia).
Leslie was traditionally only a masculine name, the feminine version was first recorded in a poem called "Bonnie Lesley" by the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. It comes from a Scottish surname which was derived from Gaelic leas celyn, meaning "garden of holly".
O SAW ye bonnie Lesley
As she gaed o'er the Border?
She 's gane, like Alexander,
To spread her conquests farther.
To see her is to love her, 5
And love but her for ever;
For Nature made her what she is,
And ne'er made sic anither!
Thou art a queen, fair Lesley,
Thy subjects we, before thee: 10
Thou art divine, fair Lesley,
The hearts o' men adore thee.
The Deil he couldna scaith thee,
Or aught that wad belang thee;
He'd look into thy bonnie face 15
And say, 'I canna wrang thee!'
The Powers aboon will tent thee,
Misfortune sha'na steer thee:
Thou'rt like themsel' sae lovely,
That ill they'll ne'er let near thee. 20
Return again, fair Lesley,
Return to Caledonie!
That we may brag we hae a lass
There 's nane again sae bonnie!
Robert Burns. 1759–1796
My name is Lesley, I was named after my grandfather, because I was my mother's first born as I am female the spelling had to be changed accordingly. My grandfather died before I was born so sadly I never knew my namesake, it took me till my early twenties to appreciate my name, it is an honour to have.
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