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James Brown MacLea

Registration number 20080120A

This certifies that the heraldic arms of James Brown MacLea (1859-1926) which are offered in memoriam and conveyed to his descendants are registered and described by the blazon below

Arms: Quarterly, First Or, a lion rampant Gules, Second and Third Argent, a dexter hand couped at the wrist Gules, holding a cross crosslet fitchy Azure, Fourth Or, a New England pine tree eradicated Vert, overall a fillet cross formy at the ends Azure.
Crest: Within a wreath Or and Gules, a Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) rising wings elevated and addorsed holding in his beak a jeweled gold ring, all proper.
Motto: Now Is The Time

Biographical information

James Brown MacLea was born 29 Oct 1859 in the Calton section of Glasgow, Scotland, the son of Peter McLea and Janet Brown of Glasgow and grandson of John McLea and Janet McKay, born on the Isle of Bute, Scotland. James, a jeweler, along with his wife Margaret Turner, came to the United States in the early 1880s. He and his family lived briefly in Chicago, Illinois, and later in Paterson, New Jersey. In Paterson, Margaret died following childbirth and James and his seven living children moved to settle in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about 1899. His four girls (Margaret, Janet, Mary, Isabel) and three boys (James, Peter, and Alexander) all left descendants that established a substantial MacLea/McLea presence in Boston and spread through New England and beyond. James married Mary Hughes, his second wife, also a native of Glasgow, in 1911, but they had no children. During his life, James worked first as a jeweler and later as a machinist. James died on 19 Dec 1926, in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Design rationale

The arms are derived from the granted Scottish arms of the Chiefs of the Clan MacLea (or Livingstone) and are differenced to indicate that the MacLea family of Boston has no known relationship with the Chiefly line. In Scottish parlance, this is known as an indeterminate cadet of that family.

The Chiefly arms feature a first quarter with the rampant lion, symbol of the ancient celtic Kingdom of Dalriada. The second and third quarters feature the Azure cross and hand Gules, representative of St. Moluag, the purported founder of 100 monasteries in the western islands and highlands of Scotland. The Chiefs of the Clan MacLea are the considered to be the coarbs, or successors, of St. Moluag, and today bear his ancient staff, known as the Bachuil. The fourth quarter of the Chiefly arms feature the salmon, an ancient celtic symbol of wisdom.

In the arms of the family of James Brown MacLea, two differences have been introduced to differentiate the Boston branch of the family. The first is that the fourth quarter of the arms has been completely replaced. In place of the salmon is a New England pine tree eradicated. The tree is used as a symbol of New England, the adopted home of James and his descendants, due to its original use as a symbol in the colonial New England flag. The second difference in James Brown MacLea's arms is that an Azure cross has been introduced over the entire coat to better tie together the four quarters and also as further reference to the Cross of St. Moluag, patron of the MacLea clan.

The crest chosen is entirely different from that of the Chiefly line in Scotland. A sparrowhawk has been chosen as the symbol of James Brown MacLea and his migration from Scotland to the United States. The term sparrowhawk is a term in the field of jewelers for the small anvil used in the making of jewelry. This is especially appropriate as a symbol for James because his father and grandfather before him, Peter and John McLea, were Master Blacksmiths in Glasgow. The sparrowhawk in the crest is carrying in its beak a jeweled gold ring. This ring is a further reference to James' work as a jeweler and also serves to mark James' city of origin: Glasgow. The arms of Glasgow feature a salmon carrying a golden ring, a reference to an old story about St. Mungo, patron of Glasgow. In the MacLea crest, the sparrowhawk can be imagined to be taking the ring (his skill as a jeweler and his origins and family in Glasgow) across the ocean to his new home in North America.

Finally, the motto, "Now Is The Time" is a reference to James choosing to act decisively and move with his wife to the United States at a time when the rest of his family stayed in Glasgow. Furthermore, it is a constant call to action and exemplifies the work, diligence, and forward-thinking of James and his descendants in meeting the challenges faced in their every endeavor.

Registered by

Kyle S. MacLea


Personal, Original, US, M

Roll of Arms