James Leonard

Male Abt 1620 - 1691  (~ 71 years)

Personal Information    |    PDF

  • Name James Leonard 
    Born Abt 1620  Pontypool, Mommoth Co., Wales Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 01 Sep 1691  Taunton, Bristol Co., Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • The Land Patent Books of Virginia, Book 1, page 23, shows Robert Bennettgranted 700 acres...for transportation of 14 persons, including JamesLeonard, June 26, 1635. One theory is that James came first to Virginia,then to Maryland, then to Providence, then to Lynn. Source: The LeonardDictionary, Volume III (manuscript). Duplicate record August 18, 1637.Another source is Charles Edward Banks' "Topographical Dictionary of 2885English Emigrants to New England 1620-1650," Baltimore, GenealogicalPublishing Co., 1963, 3rd edition, p. 148, citing Various References:NEGR 5/104. Apparently, employees and recruits of John Winthrop weresometimes not listed as passengers, since they were not paying passengerson those particular vessels crossing the Atlantic.

      He arrived before 1650 from Pontypool, Wales, although some sources sayhe first came to Providence, RI, in 1645. He was paid for bringing hisgoods from Providence by the Lynn/Saugus Ironworks in 1651. On January10, 1645/6 in Providence, 25 acres of land were granted to a number ofinhabitants, including James Leonard, but his name had been crossed out.He was the Ironmaster of Taunton, having first participated developmentof the iron works at Braintree and Saugus.

      But there appear to have been Leonards in the Pontypool area since theearly 1600's. A Thomas Leonard mentioned in deed of July 29, 1633,bordering lands of John Powell, John Gerbon, and Phillip Morgan inTrevethin (Parish near Pontypool, with a bridge near swamp and pool therein 1490 -- pool later became forge pond). An ironworks was in operationbefore 1634, and there's a record of a complaint against John Wylde forfailure to collect monies from it, instead selling iron at a discount tohis friends. Thomas Morgan was recorded as selling charcoal to it in1640. The works were apparently owned by the Hanburys, probably Richardb. August 1618. 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 Leonardmarried Alexander Lewis January 26, 1656; a son of Philip Leonard wasborn October 27, 1656. Sarah, daughter of James Leonard, baptizedSeptember 1, 1705; Ann, daughter of James Leonard, baptized March 13,1702. Local records include a mention of a Thomas Leonard in 1790, aJohn and Mary Leonard who died at age 84 in 1774. These indicate therewere Leonards and ironmaking in the Pontypool area after James and Thomasleft. These Leonards had names identical to or similar to those whoemigrated to America. There was even a Theophilus Leonard, iron refiner,who died March 31, 1900 in nearby Pontnewydd, Wales, perhaps just acoincidence. (Source: old documents at the Monmouthshire County recordsoffice near Pontypool, October 2003. A researcher with more time couldprobably find some interesting material here.) Elisha Clark Leonard paid5 pounds to a clergyman in Pontypool to check the records for James andHenry, but he reportedly found nothing. GML reported that laterresearchers found nothing about them either. So the theory is that Jamesand Henry were not in Pontypool very long.

      Probably James and his young family (and his older brother Henry) werealso ironworkers in the Bilston, Staffordshire (Cheshire?), area prior totheir immigration. Bilston became a center of the "Black Country" ironindustry. George Marston Leonard includes a note on one of his tablesthat "James, son of Thomas, son of Henry of Billston, Staffordshire..."from McKenzie, Colonial Families, Vol. IV. Apparently, the Leonards lefta 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 aletter to James Leonard, ironworker in or near Taunton, MA stating thatthe extensive iron works there in Bilston belonged to the Leonards. TheLeonards in Taunton decided not to undertake the expense of an extendedsuit to regain the works. The Leonards may also have been involved insome of the ironworks in Somersetshire, England, and Pontypool,Monmouthshire, Wales, as well.

      James Leonard was but a short time at the Saugus Ironworks and atBraintree for a longer time. At sale of the Braintree works, he became apartner. With the invitation from Taunton, he moved there, erected aforge and furnace, and continued as masterworkman, a position he held forthe rest of his life. ECL believes Oliver Purchase was the one whoinduced Henry and James along with Ralph Russell to come to Taunton. Heconveyed the two hearths at Taunton to his sons, Thomas and James, andthey in turn conveyed them to their sons. He purchased a lot on MillRiver and erected a one-hearth forge, which he called Whittinton Forge.His son Joseph was the masterworkman at Whittinton Forge. His two othersons, Benjamin and Uriah, were also trained as "bloomers." About 1682James 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 roofhouse 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 veryrespectable sum in those days (from Elisha Clark Leonard and GeorgeMarston Leonard's unpublished manuscript).

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

      James Leonard was allowed to keep an "ordinary" (bar) in Taunton. Thelicense was revoked in 1664/5, but later conveyed to his son, Thomas.

      James Leonard frequently entertained Massasoit and King Philip, whojourneyed from Mt. Hope to the hunting grounds at Fowling Pond. FowlingPond is in Raynham, was one mile north of the Ancient Iron Works onpresent-day King Philip's Street near the end of Mill Street. FowlingPond was said to be two miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide inKing Philip's time, but today has disappeared. James repaired their gunsand conferred favors that led to a lasting friendship. King Philipconveyed to James Leonard about two hundred and fifty acres atMattapoisett Neck in Swansea in October 1665, but the deed was lost bythe Plymouth Court. Tradition says that out the outbreak of KIngPhilip's War in 1675, Philip gave strict orders that his men were neverto harm a Leonard (although young Uriah Leonard was almost shot by KingPhilip's men early in the war, a bullet having passed through his hat ashe rode his horse to escape an attack). It is conjectured that becauseof the Leonards Taunton was not attacked during the war. (Philip'sorders were actually not to disturb certain families including those ofJames Leonard, John Brown, and Capt. Thomas Willett, all of Taunton --Hurd, p. 346).

      One peculiarity to check out: although several Leonards were officers inthe militia of the time, there's little mention of Leonards fighting inPhilip's War. Bodge in Soldiers of King Philip's War mentions Jacob asserving under Capt. Woodworth, Thomas credited under Capt. Thomas BrattleOctober 19, 1675, and Thomas at Lynn, August 24, 1676. More researchneeds to be done on the activities of the Leonards during Philip's War.

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

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

      ECL notes that James had 68 grandchildren. A chart gives those presentat a Thanksgiving family party in 1690, and I've checked all thegrandchildren 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, UriahLeonard, Thomas Leonard, Benjamin Leonard, James Leonard, John andAbigail Kingsley, and Isaac and Rebecca Chapman. (1:44).

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

      James LEONARD and Mary Jane MARTIN were married in 1640 in England.2 Mary Jane MARTIN2 (daughter of Isaac MARTIN) was born before 1625. She died on 25 Feb 1663/64 in Taunton, Bristol Co., MA. She was also referred to as Margaret and Jennie Martin. A family ofMartyns lived in Newport, not far from Pontypool. Henry Martyn, yeoman,1573, John, William, Thomas, Morgan, Mary, Edmund, Catherine, 1583.William was keeper of the keys in Newport. Further research at Newportand the Monmouthshire County Records Office might turn up a relationship,although church records in that area do not go back to this era.
    • According to various records, James' family can be traced back to a John Leonard, bornin 1479, who lived in Knole, County Kent, England. Also, we have information of relationships as follows: "February 2, 1732/3, Hannah Dean, sister of Capt. James Leonard (2nd son of James) gave the following account of her relatives: First her great-grandfather was Henry Leonard, her grandfather was Thomas Leonard, and her father was James Leonard, her grandmother's name was White, her mother's name was Martin. James, her father, lived and died in Taunton. Hannah's borthers were Thomas, James, Joseph, Benjamin, John, and Uriah, and her sisters were Abigail and Rebecca." James Leonard of Taunton, Massachusetts, Ironmaster (from the Research and Manuscripts of Elisha Clark Leonard and G. Marston Leonard.)

      James and his family came to America in 1645 from Pontypool, Monmouthshire (now Gwent), Wales and settled first in Lynn, Massachusetts and then in Taunton, Massachusetts. He was an iron-worker and in 1652 he and his brother, Henry, "set up a bloomery on Two Mile river," this bing the first forge for the manufacture of iron in Taunton.

      James was a friend of the Indian Chief, King Philip, often entertaining him at his home. In October of 1665, King Philip conveyed about 250 acres of land at Mattapoisett Neck in Swansea to James. Tradition says that it was because of this friendship that, at the outbreak of King Philip's War, King Philip gave strict orders that his men were never to harm a Leonard, and conjecture says that because of this, Taunton was not attacked during the war.

      James Leonard could not read or write when he came to America but he was able to amass property amounting to 500 pounds during his lifetime.
    Person ID I1130  OurNorthernRoots | Andrew Burdett Ancestry
    Last Modified 29 Aug 2011 

    Father Thomas Leonard,   b. 28 May 1577, Chevening, Kent Co., England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1638, Kent Co., England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 60 years) 
    Mother Lydia White,   b. Abt 1587, Pontypool, Monmoth Co., Wales Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F5077  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Mary Jane Martin,   b. Bef 1625, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Feb 1664, Taunton, Bristol Co., Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 39 years) 
    +1. Major Thomas Leonard,   b. 03 Aug 1641, Kinver, Staffordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Nov 1713, Raynham, Bristol Co., Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 72 years)
    Family ID F5076  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Abt 1620 - Pontypool, Mommoth Co., Wales Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 01 Sep 1691 - Taunton, Bristol Co., Massachusetts, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set