First Generation

1. James LEONARD1 was born about 1620 in Pontypool, England/Wales?. He died on 1 September 1691 at the age of 71 in Taunton, Bristol Co., MA.2 There is no known birth record yet discovered for James Leonard. Most sources say he and his brother, Henry, came from Pontypool, Wales, where there was an iron works, although that does not mean that either Henry or James was born there. James' father, Thomas, appears to have been an itinerant in the west England, moving from furnace to furnace in various towns as work demanded. His and his brothers' move to America occurred during the English Civil War, 1642-1651, when the Royalist forces were destroying the ironworks in the west of England to avoid their supplying armaments to the Parliamentarian forces. This could have been a factor in their emigration. Also, a probable cousin, John Leonard, had come to America in the 1630's, and a Captain Nathaniel Leonard, rumored to be an earlier generation, had been in Nova Scotia and possibly Maryland in the 1620's searching for likely ironworking sites.

There has been uncertainty as to when and how James Leonard first came to America. Some sources say he first came to Providence, RI, in 1645. He was paid for bringing his goods from Providence by the Lynn/Saugus Ironworks in 1651. On January 10, 1645/6 in Providence, 25 acres of land were granted to a number of inhabitants, including James Leonard, but his name had been crossed out.

James' son, Thomas, who accompanied him on his trip to America, was born in Kinver, South Staffordshire, in 1641, while his second son, James, was thought to have been born in nearby Bilston, Staffordshire, in 1642. The birth of his third child, Abigail, in 1645, in Braintree, MA, indicates he was there by that date. John Winthrop's first forge was erected at Braintree in 1644, although it was not successful and became a satellite forge converting the sows and pigs produced by the blast furnace at Saugus (Lynn) into bar iron (see E. N. Hartley's "Ironworks on the Saugus," 1951, Chapter Six, particularly p. 116). The Braintree operation had difficulty recruiting skilled bloomers, and James may have been one of the first employed there. His fourth child, Joseph, is listed in Braintree records as having been born there 25 October 1647, again indicating James' presence there. James' fifth child, Benjamin, was born in 1650, although it has not been established whether he was born in Braintree or Lynn.

Did he and Henry come from Pontypool, Monmouthshire? There appear to have been Leonards in the Pontypool area since the early 1600's. A Thomas Leonard mentioned in deed of July 29, 1633, bordering lands of John Powell, John Gerbon, and Phillip Morgan in Trevethin (Parish near Pontypool, with a bridge near swamp and pool there in 1490, the pool later became forge pond). An ironworks was in operation before 1634, and there's a record of a complaint against John Wylde for failure to collect monies from it, instead selling iron at a discount to his friends. Thomas Morgan was recorded as selling charcoal to it in 1640. The works were apparently owned by the Hanburys, probably Richard b. August 1618.

Unfortunately, church records for Pontypool go back only to 1650, but there were Leonards there after that year. Thomas, son of Jacob Leonard, was baptized January 9, 1699; William, son of Jacob Leonard, was baptized July 23, 1696; Gwenllian, wife of Thomas Leonard, buried March 15, 1656; Mary Leonard married Alexander Lewis January 26, 1656; a son of Philip Leonard was born October 27, 1656. Sarah, daughter of James Leonard, baptized September 1, 1705; Ann, daughter of James Leonard, baptized March 13, 1702. Local records include a mention of a Thomas Leonard in 1790, a John and Mary Leonard who died at age 84 in 1774. These indicate there were Leonards and ironmaking in the Pontypool area after James and Thomas left. These Leonards had names identical to or similar to those who emigrated to America. There was even a Theophilus Leonard, iron refiner, who died March 31, 1900 in nearby Pontnewydd, Wales, perhaps just a coincidence. (Source: old documents at the Monmouthshire County records office near Pontypool, October 2003. A researcher with more time could probably find some interesting material here.) Elisha Clark Leonard paid 5 pounds to a clergyman in Pontypool to check the records for James and Henry, but he reportedly found nothing. GML reported that later researchers found nothing about them either. So the theory is that James and Henry were not in Pontypool very long.

Probably James and his young family (and his older brother Henry) were also ironworkers in the Bilston, Staffordshire, area prior to their immigration. Bilston became a center of the "Black Country" iron industry. George Marston Leonard includes a note on one of his tables that "James, son of Thomas, son of Henry of Bilston, Staffordshire..." from McKenzie, Colonial Families, Vol. IV. Apparently, the Leonards left a claim to the ownership of some heavily mortgaged ironworks there, moving on as the mining districts became less productive. Years later (1821?) an ironworker in Bilston by the name of James Leonard sent a letter to James Leonard, ironworker in or near Taunton, MA, stating that the extensive iron works there in Bilston belonged to the Leonards. The Leonards in Taunton decided not to undertake the expense of an extended suit to regain the works. The Leonards may also have been involved in some of the ironworks in Somersetshire, England, and Pontypool, Monmouthshire, Wales, as well.

James Leonard was but a short time at the Saugus Ironworks and at Braintree for a longer time. At the sale of the Braintree works, he became a partner. With the invitation from Taunton, he moved there, erected a forge and furnace, and continued as master workman, a position he held for the rest of his life. ECL believes Oliver Purchase was the one who induced Henry and James along with Ralph Russell to come to Taunton. He conveyed the two hearths at Taunton to his sons, Thomas and James, and they in turn conveyed them to their sons. He purchased a lot on Mill River and erected a one-hearth forge, which he called Whittington Forge. His son Joseph was the masterworkman at Whittington Forge. His two other sons, Benjamin and Uriah, were also trained as "bloomers." About 1682 James Leonard built a house for himself a short distance from the Taunton (Raynham) Ironworks on the north side of the road. It was a gambled roof house two stories in front and running back to one story in the rear. When he died in 1691, he left an estate valued at 500 pounds, a very respectable sum in those days (from Elisha Clark Leonard and George Marston Leonard's unpublished manuscript).

More about the involvement of James and Henry Leonard in early ironworks in Massachusetts and New Jersey can be found in Bill Barton's articles, "The Establishment of the Iron Industry in America," "Pre-American Ancestry of Our Leonard Ironworkers," and "Leonard Siblings Henry, James, Philip, Sarah, and Thomas in America and Some of Their Descendants," <>,

"The names of those who hath put in themselvest to be proprietors to the Bloomerie, viz.: Hezekiah Hoare, Thomas Gilbert, Richard Williams, Walter Dean, George Hall, Oliver Purchis, James Walker, John Tisdale, Wm. Parker, Mr. Gilbert, Sr., Peter Pitts, Richard Stacey, John Cobb, Wm. Hodges, Nathaniel Woodward, Timothy Holloway, James Burt, Edward Bobitt, Johnah Austin, Sr., John Parker, Samuel Wilbore, Miss E. Pole, and Jane Pole. Additional records show the names of Wm. Pole, Timothy Lindall of Salem, Nicholas White, Sr., Henry Withington, John Turner, Thomas Lincoln, Sr., Anthony Slocum, James Leonard, Thomas Amsbery Jos. Wilbore, Henry Andrews, John Hall, James Phillips, Frincis Smith, Geo. Watson, Gov Leverett, and Major Edward Tyng of Boston, Nath'l. Paine and Stephen Paine of Rehoboth, John Cary and Nathaniel Paine, Jr. of Bristol, Benedict Arnold of Newport, and Richard Thayer of Braintree."

James Leonard was allowed to keep an "ordinary" (bar) in Taunton. The license was revoked in 1664/5, some months after his first wife died, but later conveyed to his son, Thomas.

According to legend, James Leonard frequently entertained Massasoit and King Philip, who journeyed from Mt. Hope to the hunting grounds at Fowling Pond. Fowling Pond is in Raynham, was one mile north of the Ancient Iron Works on present-day King Philip's Street near the end of Mill Street. Fowling Pond was said to be two miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide in King Philip's time, but today has disappeared. James repaired their guns and conferred favors that led to a lasting friendship. King Philip conveyed to James Leonard about two hundred and fifty acres at Mattapoisett Neck in Swansea in October 1665, but the deed was lost by the Plymouth Court, who rejected James' claim to the land. Tradition says that out the outbreak of KIng Philip's War in 1675, Philip gave strict orders that his men were never to harm a Leonard (although young Uriah Leonard was almost shot by King Philip's men early in the war, a bullet having passed through his hat as he rode his horse to escape an attack). It is conjectured that because of the Leonards Taunton was not attacked during the war. (Philip's orders were actually not to disturb certain families including those of James Leonard, John Brown, and Capt. Thomas Willett, all of Taunton -- Hurd, p. 346).

One peculiarity to check out: although several Leonards were officers in the militia of the time, there's little mention of Leonards fighting in Philip's War. Bodge in "Soldiers of King Philip's War" mentions Jacob as serving under Capt. Woodworth, Thomas credited under Capt. Thomas Brattle October 19, 1675, and Thomas at Lynn, August 24, 1676. More research needs to be done to uncover the activities of the Leonards during Philip's War.

One of the garrison houses used during King Philip's War was the Samuel Leonard house erected in 1653 by James Leonard at the site of Taunton's Ancient Iron Works Company now in Raynham. A memorial plaque marking the spot is located seven-tenths of a mile east from Route 44 along the south side of Route 104.

Another traditional story is that Philip's head was deposited in the basement of Leonard's house for safekeeping before being sent to Plymouth. However, none of the early historians indicated anything but that the head was sent directly to Plymouth for display. (Philip was shot by Alderman, a Sakonnet Indian, on August 12, 1676, in a swamp at the foot of Mt. Hope in Bristol. His head was set on a pole in Plymouth and stayed there for a generation. For more on King Philip's War, see Eric B. Schultz and Michael J. Tougias, "King Philip's War: The History and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict," Woodstock, VT: The Countryman Press, 1999.

ECL notes that James had 68 grandchildren. A chart gives those present at a Thanksgiving family party in 1690, and I've checked all the grandchildren alive then against the chart (there were 45 living in 1690).

Account of Estate of James Leonard of Taunton dtd. August 24, 1697. Agreement about estate among Isaac and Hannah Dean, Joseph Leonard, Uriah Leonard, Thomas Leonard, Benjamin Leonard, James Leonard, John and Abigail Kingsley, and Isaac and Rebecca Chapman. (1:44). "(167) Account of Thomas Leonard of Taunton, administrator of the estate of his "Hon.: father Mr. James Leonard" late of Taunton deceased. Paid: "to his Mother in law Ms. Margaret Leonard"; to his brother James Leonard; "his two Brothers Joseph and Uriah Leonard they & Josephs Executrix Possess what they were to have"; to his brother Benjamin Leonard; to his brother and sister John and Abigail Kingsley; to his brother and sister Isaac and Rebecca Chapman; his brother and sister Isaac and Hannah Dean have received their due, Debts and other charges have been paid to the following persons: Ensign John Hall, Nathaniel French, Eliazer Carver, Joseph Willis Senr., Mr. Danforth (for) Rate, Samuel Waldron, Isaac Dean, William Hoskins, Thomas Dean, Benjamin Dean, Nathaniel Bun for Jnth Macomber, Cooper, John Crane, Philip King, Richard Burr, Saml Hall Sen., John Macomber Junr., John Crane for Jnth Echee, Nath. William's widow, John Thresher, Mr. Pool for goods in Taunton and Boston, Mr. Burton clerk. Cary clerk. Dated August 24, 1697 and exhibited same day before John Sallin, Judge of probate, who allowed the same. John Cary Registr: Recorded Sept. 4 1697 by John Cary Registr:"

William Reed Deane in "Genealogical Memoir of the Leonard Family" lists all of James' children but John (NEHGS Reg. 1851:414(3)).

James' associates at Taunton were Ralph Russell and Anthony Slocum. The latter two went on to found Dartmouth, MA.

James LEONARD and Mary Jane MARTIN were married in 1640 in England.2 Mary Jane MARTIN2, daughter of Isaac MARTIN, was born before 1625 in England. She died on 25 February 1664 at the age of 39 in Taunton, Bristol Co., MA. She was also referred to as Margaret and Jennie Martin.

Whether she was the daughter of Isaac Martin or one of his brothers has not been proven. The Martin brothers were in Rehoboth, MA, during that town's early days about 1645. Since two of James Leonard's children were born in England, he must have married Mary there. It's conceivable that the Leonards and the Martins emigrated together, although there's been no record supporting that hypothesis. The Rehoboth Martins appear to have come from Dorset in England.

According to ECL, Susanna Leonard (Nathaniel6, Elkanah5, Elkanah4, Elkanah3, Thomas2, James1) states that 1st wife of James was Jennie Martin, no source given. ECL also notes, "see VA land records of a Martyn family."

James LEONARD and Mary Jane MARTIN had the following children:



Deacon, Major Thomas LEONARD.



Capt. James LEONARD.



Abigail LEONARD.






Benjamin LEONARD.



John LEONARD was born in 1652 in Taunton, Bristol Co., MA. He died in 1682 at the age of 30 in Taunton, Bristol Co., MA. He died unmarried. Did he live with a daughter or niece of King Phillip, something very contrary to the social norms of the times? ECL has him dying in 1682, but no citation. Another source had the date as 1672 and a third 1685. William Reed Deane in "Genealogical Memoir of the Leonard Family" lists all of James' children but John (NEHGS Regester 1851:414(3).



Rebecca LEONARD.







James LEONARD and Margaret FORD were married before 1662 in Taunton, Bristol Co., MA.3 Margaret FORD, daughter of William FORD and ANNA, was born about 1632. She died before 9 April 1701 at the age of 69 in Taunton, Bristol Co., MA. Will of Margaret Leonard of Taunton, widow, about the 68th year of her age, dtd. November 12, 1700, prob. April 9, 1701. Mentions son-in-law Uriah Leonard's wife Elizabeth and his daughter Margaret. Daughter-in-law Hannah Deane and her daughter Abigail Terry, son-in-law James Leonard's daughters Abigail and Prudence Lewis. Son-in-law Thomas Leonard's daughters Elizabeth and Johanah. Cousin Eleazer Carver to be exec. (She was probably step-mother, not mother-in-law). (2:30). Problem: Thomas Leonard, son of Thomas, Margaret's grandson, had two daughters, Alice and Joanna (not Elizabeth).