LEE – Surname Meaning and Family History

What Is the Meaning of the Last Name Lee?

In terms of meanings and origins, the surname Lee can have a variety of meanings:

  1. In the middle ages, the name LEA, as well as the common alternative spelling LEE, was given to someone who lived in or near a laye, meaning “clearing in the woods” in Middle English, mainly to describe someone who lived in or near a laye.
  2. The name LEE may have been derived from the ancient Irish name “O’Liathain,” which means “dark one.”.
  3. The Chinese word LEE means “plum tree” in English. At the time of the Tang dynasty, Lee was the royal surname of the royal family.
  4. It may be a ‘place’ name, meaning a town or village named Lee or Leigh, or, more commonly, a surname that is taken from the place.

Using analysis of data taken from the 2010 census, Lee is ranked 21st in terms of popularity among American surnames.

There are three main origins of surnames: English, Irish, and Chinese.

There are several alternative spellings for the surname LEA, including LEH, LEIGH, LAY, LEES, LEESE, LEIGHE, LEAGH, LI.

Where Do People With the Lee Surname Live?

According to surname distribution data from Forebears, which also brings in data from Asian countries, the Lee surname is most prevalent in the United States (ranked 15th most common in the nation), whereas it is most prevalent in Hong Kong, where it ranks as the 3rd most common last name based on the percentage of population. There is also a ranking for Lee in Malaysia and Singapore, a ranking for Lee in Canada, and a ranking for Lee in Australia.

Famous People with the Surname LEE:

  • The Confederate General Robert E. Lee played an important role during the American War of Independence
  • The American film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor Shelton Jackson “Spike” Lee was born on August 18, 1926
  • In addition to being an actor and martial artist, Bruce Lee is also a Chinese-American
  • The story of African American inventor Joseph Lee (1849–1905) is a fascinating one
  • There is no doubt that Jim Lee is one of the greatest comic book artists in history

Genealogy Resources for the Surname LEE:

A list of the 100 most common surnames in the United States and their meanings
We have Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown, and a host of others with these last names – will you be one of the millions of Americans who have one of these top 100 most common last names from the 2010 census?

A DNA Surname Project for the Lee Family
It is the purpose of this Lee DNA project to bring together genealogists who are researching the LEE surname and its variants (LEIGH, LEA, etc.) with an emphasis on the use of DNA testing as part of their research.

Misconceptions about the Lee Family Crest: What You Need to Know
The Lee surname does not have a family crest or coat of arms, which is contrary to what some people believe, and the Lee family name does not have a coat of arms. The rights to use coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families. It is only the uninterrupted male descendants of the individual who originally received the coat of arms that are permitted to use that coat of arms. 

A forum dedicated to the Lee Family Genealogy
See what other researchers who have been researching your ancestors have posted about their research in this archive of the former popular genealogy forum for the Lee surname. We regret to inform you that this forum is no longer active.

The LEE family tree on FamilySearch
Using this free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can find over 9 million free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Lee surname and its variations, as well as a variety of other surnames.

A number of mailing lists for researchers of the Lee surname are available on RootsWeb. One of these is the Lee surname and family mailing list. In addition to joining a list, you can also browse or search the archives to explore over a decade of postings for the Lee surname.

A collection of Lee records can be found on GeneaNet
It is available on GeneaNet in the form of archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Lee surname, with a focus on records and families from France and other European countries.

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