Holy Trinity Church, Churchover where my great great grandparents married in 1866


Sometime in the mid-1980s I became interested in tracing my family history.  I had always been interested in history, indeed I graduated from  the University of York with a BA in history in 1985. But my genealogical journey began when I found a letter on my grandfather, Charles Leatherland's piano from a man in Oxford whose family owned an old portrait and a 300 year old leather pouch. The portrait was said to be of John Leatherland, a diplomat in Constantinople during the 1680s, and the leather pouch was inscribed with his name.  

My grandfather's surname was Leatherland and, as the surname is rare, the writer of the letter wondered whether we knew anything about this diplomat or whether he was our ancestor. Grandpa had never heard of him, but later I made contact with this man and travelled to Oxford to see the pouch and the portrait which hung on his staircase. The story behind the portrait and wallet still remains unclear, but it inspired my interest in the family origins.

I then discovered that, in the late 1960s, my uncle (another John Leatherland) had traced some of the Leatherland family history. In those days most parish registers were still held by vicars in dusty vicarage cupboards, and tracing your family tree was a slow and laborious process. My uncle's patient and thorough research paved the way for this website, and I still heavily rely on the information he gathered.

I was also fortunate to work in Kingsway, London, in the late 1980s two minutes walk from St Catherine's House where the civil registration (birth/marriage/death) indexes used to be kept. 


                                  All Saints Church, Yelvertoft where my ancestors were married and baptised in the early 18th century


If you are interested in my detailed family tree and learning more about my Leatherland and other ancestors, please have a look at  my website www.tribalpages.com/tribes/david4u which gives all the facts and figures. 


                 The Red Lion Inn, Kilsby 1887 : photo from Jean McLaughlin  www.photohistory-sussex.co.uk/UckfieldphtgrsAG.htm

The Leatherland Name

Leatherland is a relatively rare surname.  The Office of National Statistics database based on modern census records contains over one million different surnames, but only 947 people with the surname Leatherland. The name ranks 6,915th  in terms of surname popularity. Using the spelling Letherland gives a further 53 people and Litherland 1,286. Compare this with more common surnames. My own surname (Richards) produces 75,000 people. Johnson gives you 179,731.


I have carried out a great deal of research on and off over the last thirty years. Most of the 19th and 20th century information comes from Birth / Marriage / Death certificates, the censuses between 1841 and 1911, the 1939 Register and some family information. 

Before the advent of civil registration in 1837 I have used parish registers, originally via the Mormon's International Genealogical Index (IGI)  and various indexes on Find My Past, Ancestry and Alan Clark and Marilyn Pontin's excellent Northants Baptism/Marriage/Burial indexes www.northants-familytree.net. Recently I have examined the parish registers for the Northants and Warwickshire parishes where my ancestors lived using Ancestry's collection of Northants and Warwickshire parish register images.  

I have carried out research in the Northants, Warwicks and Leicestershire Record Offices.  I have examined a number of wills and marriage licence bonds and other documents found in the archives. I have looked at the Hatton Asylum records at Warwickshire Record Office, the Crick Overseers of the Poor accounts at the Northants Record Office,  

For anyone with ancestors in Northants, Alan Clarke's parish register indexes are very useful. Browsing them is fascinating and throws up all sorts of interesting entries. For example, in their pre-1700 Marriage Index you will find the marriage of "Mr Peter Le Noir Un Trompette Des Gardes Du Roi"to Mary Watts of Northampton in Brixworth in 1683. The bridegroom's French name translates roughly as Black Peter a Trumpet of the Guards of the King !! Nothing to do with Leatherlands but there is no doubt an intriguing story behind this mysterious Frenchman (or perhaps the vicar was drunk ! )

But there is no substitute for browsing the images of the actual registers which (fortunately) are available on Ancestry for Warks and Northants. 

The Northants Militia lists are an excellent source. I have also made some use of the National Archives indexes. 


                                          Hollowell, Northants, home to Leatherland families for over 200 years

Family Information 

I was lucky enough to be able to find out much by talking to my grandfather, Charles Leatherland, and two great uncles, who all lived into their 90s. My Uncle, John Leatherland, who began the family history research, sadly passed away in April 2018. 

I am not a Leatherland. The Leatherlands are my maternal family line. My grandfather, Charles Leatherland, was a major inspiriation in my life and my site www.charlesleatherland.info looks at his life and achievements.

If you have Leatherland ancestors - or indeed any links with or interest in the contents of this site - I would be pleased to hear from you.

David Richards

April 2009

Contact me : mailto:davidr4u@btinternet.com

Site last updated April 1st 2020