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About the study

This is a study of all instances of the surname Lelean (plus variants), its origin in Cornwall, and subsequent instances in the US and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania and Fiji, and South Africa.

Variant names

Early spellings include the variant Lalean, and later ones Le Lean and Le Lane.

Name origin

For many years, it was believed in the family that the name was French, and that the first arrival from France was a shipwrecked sailor or pirate, or a Huguenot escaping persecution. Research carried out in the 1960's by Leonard Lelean and Ronald Lelean Sharman suggests that the name is much older than the time of the Huguenots, and may well derive from a Cornish place-name, Leighlean, meaning 'a flat, muddy place.'

Historical occurrences of the name

James Lelean and his wife Mary sheltered John Wesley when he visited Mevagissey in 1753, and were presented with his silver buckles in thanks. The buckles are now in the Wesley Museum in City Road, London.

Nicholas Lelean was captured by the French in the Napoleonic wars, and held prisoner for nine years. Some correspondence between himself and his wife survives and is held in the family.

William Arthur Lelean had a very successful career as a railway engineer, and became President of the Institute of Railway Engineers.

Percy Samuel Lelean was an army doctor, who rose to the rank of Major, and wrote a book entitled 'Sanitation in War.'