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Origins of the Lee surname

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What does the name Lee mean?

The surname Lee has a number of different roots. Lee is internationally seen in names from Asia (particularly Korea), but in the English-Speaking world it most often derives from the Old English word 'leah' (a forest clearing or meadow), and would be given to someone who lives at or near one of these geographical features.

Alternative variations of the name Lee

Lee, Lea, Legh, Leigh, Ley, Lees

I’ve managed to trace back to the mid-1500s! I can’t believe it! Utterly engrossing and I have uncovered some quite moving and heartbreaking stories attached to various ancestors. You don’t need any qualifications to start - just time patience, and some information.

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Delve deeper into the Lee family's history

Where do most Lees live?

In 1921, most Lees lived in London.

Census records trace your ancestors through each generation, so you can follow where your relatives lived through each decade.

Interesting facts about Lees

How common is your surname?

49th most common surname in the UK

We have 511,000 records for the Lee surname. The oldest one dates back to 1196.

Who were Lees most likely to marry?




Our Marriage record sets tell us which families married Lees.

What are the most common Lee first names?

  • John
  • William
  • Mary
  • Elizabeth

Our birth record sets tell us the names of Lee family members

Common jobs for Lees

Men and women often performed different types of jobs, so these are displayed by gender to maintain their historical accuracy.

Common Female occupations for Lees in 1921


Cotton Weaver




Domestic Servant


General Servant Domestic


Common Male occupations for Lees in 1921
Coal Miner


General Labourer


Agricultural Labourer




Farm Labourer


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Census records provide incredible detail on names, ages, marital statuses, occupations and more.

We found over 1,300,000 family trees with the Lee surname

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