Our name has a storied history, as Clan Leslie dates back to the time of the Norman Conquest. In 1067, a nobleman named Bartolf arrived in Scotland from Hungary and settled in a place called Lesselyn—which eventually evolved into Lesley. (I read this all on Wikipedia, so it must be true.) Clan Leslie lived in the Scottish lowlands, and thus my first name, not surprisingly, is said to mean “low meadow.”
What’s fun is that my last name, Karst, means kind of the same thing, as “karst” is the geologic term for a limestone sinkhole. So I guess I’m a sinkhole in a low meadow. Make what you like of that.
I’m named for my father, whose middle name is Leslie, and he was given that name after a family friend—also a man. Here in the U.S., the name went out of fashion for men around the 1950s (when I was born), but grew in popularity for women, with both spellings—Leslie and Lesley—being popular. It wasn’t till I lived in England for a year at age 16 that I learned that there was a gender difference associated with the two spellings.
I still well remember being scolded by my headmaster that year in Oxford (as if it were somehow my fault), him informing me in no uncertain terms that my name was misspelled. He seemed quite put out that I had a “man’s” name. I just smiled and told him that I was named after my father, and he had no response to that.
Oh, and I pronounce it with a hard “s” (as opposed to a “z” sound). But it’s okay, whether you call me Leslie or Lesley, or Lesslie or Lezlie—just don’t call me late for dinner!