Clan Leslie Society
Australia & New Zealand


Sir Alexander Leslie

was born around 1580, he was the son of George Leslie, Captain of Blair Castle and Bailie of Atholl. He served in the Dutch Army before being offered a captaincy in the Swedish Army by King Gustavus Adolphus. In 1622 he raised the Vermlands Regiment for the King. This regiment existed until it was axed by Swedish Government cuts in 2000. Leslie spent 30 years in the service of Sweden, rising to the rank of Field Marshal before retiring in 1638. He was not finished with soldiering, however, as in 1639 he was made Lord General of the Army of the Covenant. He faced Charles I at Duns (this is the origin of the rhyme 'There was a Crooked Man' see below), where a price of £500 was put on his head. In 1641 Charles I raised him to a peerage with the titles of Earl of Leven and Lord Balgonie.

Sir Alexander Leslie of Balgonie, 1st Earl of Leven and Lord Balgonie, was descended from the Leslies of Balquain, a major branch of Clan Leslie. When Charles I elevated him to the peerage he also granted him new Arms, with an Augmentation-of-Honour. This was the crowned thistle, the Royal badge of Scotland. This was only the second time that this had been granted (the other being Lord Torphichen in 1565). His Arms were quarterly 1 & 4, Azure a thistle crowned with an imperial crown allBalgonie Castle Leslie Coat of Arms Proper (Augmentation-of-Honour), 2 & 3, Argent on a bend Azure three buckles Or (Leslie). The crest was a demi man in armour holding in his dexter hand a dagger, point downwards, all Proper. For supporters on either side he bore two men in armour holding the Scottish flag, all Proper. This flag was red with a canton of St. Andrew, being the head quarter flag of the 1st Earl during the Bishop's and English Civil Wars. His motto was "Pro Rege et Patria". From the 7th Earl onwards, following the resumption of the Earldom of Melville (as Earl of Leven & Melville), the Arms were re-recorded to show the double honours. They became quarterly 1 Augmentation-of Honour, 2 Gules three crescents Argent on a bordure Argent eight roses Gules (Melville of that Ilk), 3 Argent a fess Gules (Melville of Raith), 4 Leslie. They used both crests, the second being a rachhound's head erased Proper collared Gules. The sinister supporter was changed to the Melville one of a rachhound rampant Proper collared Gules. They also added the Melville motto of "Denique Caelum".

The origin of the Nursery rhyme "There was a crooked man" is in British history

The content of "There was a crooked man" poem have a basis in history. This poem originates from the English Stuart history of King Charles 1. The crooked man is reputed to be the Scottish General Sir Alexander Leslie. The General signed a Covenant securing religious and political freedom for Scotland. The 'crooked stile' referred to in "There was a crooked man" being the border between England and Scotland. 'They all lived together in a little crooked house' refers to the fact that the English and Scots had at last come to an agreement. The words reflect the times when there was great animosity between the English and the Scots. The word crooked is pronounced as 'crookED' the emphasis being placed upon the 'ED' in the word. This was common in olde England and many references can be found in this type of pronunciation in the works of William Shakespeare (1564-1616).