This old Anglo-Irish name of DE LEON is peculiar to County Limerick. It has two early origins, deriving from the Latin LEO meaning 'one as strong and brave as a lion, a fierce warrior', and it was also a locational name 'the dweller at the leah'. The Gaelic form in Ireland in O'LAIGHIN and has been Anglicized to Lane. This name was borne by numerous early martyrs and thirteen popes. On the continent the given name was relatively popular because of the numerous saints who bore it, and also because the lion was the symbol of the evangelist St. Mark. In England, however, it was rare throughout the Middle Ages. Ireland is one of the earliest sources of the development of patronymic names in northern Europe. Irish Clan or bynames can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. and Mac (son of) and O (grandson or ancestor of) evolved from this base, the original literal meaning of which has been lost due to the absence of written records and linguistic ambivalences which subtly but inexorably became adopted through usage. Genealogists and lexographers accept that the patronymic base does not refer to a location, quite the contrary. The use of the prefix 'Bally' (town of) attaching to the base name, identifying the location. The base root was also adopted by people residing in the demographic area without a common ancestor. These groups called 'Septs' were specially prevalent in Ireland. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots. The earliest of the name on record appears to be LEO Camerarius who was recorded in County Norfolk in 1121, and LEON de Romeslega, was documented in 1271. Hugo LEO appears in London in 1180. A notable member of the name includes The Great St. LEO I. (390-461) Pope from 440, one of the most eminent of the Latin Fathers, he is thought to have been born in Tuscany. He was the champion of orthodoxy, and was instrumental in convening in 451 the significant Council of Chalcedon in which his legates successfully pressed what had been called 'the Catholic doctrine of Incarnation'.
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