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Lesley, Leslie (f, m) The Aberdeenshire placename led
to the surname and clan name, then to middle-name
and first-name usage. The name was in regular but quiet
use as a Christian name from the 1840’s; by 1875 it was
also being used in England and Wales. The feminine
form, Lesley, was introduced into general use in the 1880’s, though it had been established by Robert Burns in the previous century in his poem Bonnie Lesley.

As a boys’ name Leslie became fashionable throughout
Britain in the 1920’s. By 1935 it was 50th most frequently
used name in Scotland, and it was still in 56th place in 1958. It has subsequently fallen out of use, possibly because Lesley became far more popular for girls in the early 1950’s. Leslie had never been especially popular as a male name in the U.S.A., though it was the original first name of President (Gerald) Ford. When Leslie Caron appeared on the cinema screens in Gigi (1958) she instantly brought that form of the name into fashion for girls. The spelling Lesley is unknown in the U.S.A. Lesley has been used in Scotland in the late 1970’s, but now shows signs of going out of fashion.

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