Adam and Eve ?

Where do I start ? The best place is usually at the beginning.  Funnily enough Adam and Eve actually appear in my family tree !  Unfortunately I have not managed to trace my ancestors back to the origins of the human race. My Adam and Eve were twins who were born on 14th April 1868 in the village of Kilsby in Northamptonshire. They were the children of William Leatherland and his wife Elizabeth.  Sadly both twins died in infancy.

When I first created this website I felt able to claim that my Leatherland ancestry may have been traced back ten generations to the mid-seventeenth century. Now I am not so certain. There are several missing links and uncertainties. But given the rarity of the surname, I am reasonably confident in my claim that most of the following are my ancestors, even though not all the branches of the tree fit as neatly as I would like.  

Leatherland Overview

My Leatherland ancestors came from several villages in Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Warwickshire all within a few miles of Rugby. They seem to have remained in these villages for several hundred years until the family dispersed in the late 19th century. These villages were : Clay Coton, Yelvertoft, Crick, and Kilsby, all in western Northamptonshire, and  Pailton, Monks Kirby, Stretton-under-Fosse, all in eastern Warwickshire. Although they all straddle the city of Rugby, from the 17th to mid 19th century Rugby was  a small rural market town much smaller than today with a population of between only one to two thousand.  The main regional centre would have been Coventry.

Edward Leitherland of Clay Coton

The family has possibly been traced back to Edward Leitherland and his wife Elizabeth who lived in Clay Coton, Northants in the second half of the seventeenth century.

I have not managed to trace Edward and Elizabeth's marriage and I know nothing about their origins. But there were two Litherlands (John and Thomas, probably brothers)  buried five miles away in Clifton-upon-Dunsmore in 1628 and 1635 which may indicate that the family originated there.

Edward and Elizabeth had eight children all baptised in Clay Coton. Three died in infancy.  Edward was buried in 1686, Elizabeth in 1699. In the burial register she was described as a "poor widow". That's about all I know about them. 


         St Andrews Church, Clay Coton where the children of Edward and Elizabeth Leitherland were baptised (Photo © David Richards)

Easter Day Marriage

The family line continues with Edward and Elizabeth's second son, Christopher, who was baptised in 1654 in Clay Coton. When he was 32 years old, he married Sarah Watson/Walton in the neighbouring village of Yelvertoft on Easter Day, April 1686. They seem to have settled in Yelvertoft as they had nine children all baptised there between 1686 and 1705. One died in infancy. Christopher died in 1731 at the age of 77. The parish register described him as “poor”. Sarah died two years later.


                                            The churchyard of All Saints Church, Yelvertoft (photo ©David Richards)

Edward Leatherland of Crick

Edward Leatherland was the sixth son of Christopher and Sarah Leatherland. He was baptised in  1700 in Yelvertoft. In 1726 he married Esther / Hesther Watts in West Haddon. Their marriage licence describes him as the servant man of Jeremiah Bullock, a schoolmaster. They had three sons baptised in Crick between 1732 and 1739.  Edward was described as a labourer in the baptism entries. Edward died in 1763.  He was buried in Crick.  Esther died in 1786.

                                      Thatched roofed house in Crick (photo ©David Richards)                 

William Leatherland or William Clark ?

William Leatherland was the second son of Edward and Esther. He was baptised in  1737 in Crick.  I have found no evidence that he married. But in 1764 he fathered a child William whose mother was Eliza Clark.  It is not clear whether the child was brought up with the name Clark or Leatherland, although there is some evidence suggesting the latter. My family tree rests on the theory that William was brought up as a Leatherland. But if not, there is some evidence which suggests that my ancestors were also descendants of Edward and Elizabeth of Clay Coton.



William Leatherland was baptised in 1764 in Crick.  In 1783 he married Ann Hall in Kilsby. They had two children, although one died in infancy. Ann died in 1801. Two years later William married again to Jane Daniel. They had nine children between 1804 and 1822, all baptised in Kilsby Congregational Chapel. William was buried in Kilsby aged 69 in 1830.  Jane died in 1841.

Two Branches : Kilsby and Pailton

At this point the family tree becomes complicated. It is possible to trace a line of Leatherlands and their descendants in Kilsby. But there is another Leatherland line which settled in Pailton, Warwickshire, ten miles away.

I believe that William and Ann may have had a son, Samuel, whose baptism is not recorded but who always told the census enumerators he was born in Kilsby.  Samuel and his descendants moved to Pailton and Monks Kirby, in Warwickshire.  Just to confuse matters further, both branches are headed by a Samuel Leatherland, and both Samuels decided to marry ladies called Elizabeth ! I have little doubt that the Kilsby and Pailton Leatherlands were closely related.



                                                Grand Union Canal in Watford, Northants

The Kilsby Leatherland line continues with the birth of Samuel, son of William and his second wife Jane, in 1810.  When he was 25 years old, he married Elizabeth Crofts in Churchover, Warwickshire. Samuel and Elizabeth had ten children.

Indentity Crisis !

The identities of some of the earliest children are confused by the fact that the Churchover parish register show the baptism of Samuel in 1835 and William  in 1839.  But the vicar added the Latin word “vide” (meaning "see") next to both baptism entries.  This may imply that their names became "swapped" so that the first son  became  William and the second child Samuel !  There is a birth certificate for a son born in 1839 but it  does not give the boy's first name. This child could be William, or it could be Samuel. Indeed it could well be another child called Thomas ! Thomas appears in the 1841 - 1861 censuses but died aged 33 in 1873 - by which time he was known as Samuel !. Another possibility is that the child born in 1839 died because children who died in infancy were sometimes not given a name. Confused ? Me too. Oh, the joys of family history !

The Kilsby Line

Samuel Leatherland  (1810-94) worked as a brickmaker during the late 1830s and 1840s.  In 1840-41 he was living in Balcombe, Sussex, probably  making bricks for the Balcombe railway viaduct on the London to Brighton line.


                                             Balcombe Railway Viaduct

In 1859 his wife  died.  Eight years later he married Sarah Whitemanw who was considerably younger than him.  Sarah was single but had two children.   Samuel died at the age of 84 in Kilsby in 1894. Sarah died twenty years later.

Samuel Leatherland of Pailton (1791-1880)

Samuel married Elizabeth Langton in Claybrooke, Leicestershire in 1818. They had at least eight children, but I have not tracked down any of their baptisms. The censuses show that the family settled in Pailton. Perhaps unfortunately - from a family historian's point of view - tracing their descandants is made harder by the fact that they only had two sons, and that one daughter married a John Smith and another married a Jones.

Samuel and Susanna of Churchover

The birth / baptism of Samuel, son of Samuel and Elizabeth,  probably took place around 1839. Samuel appears in the 1851 cenus as a a farm servant in Lutterworth in 1851 and as a shepherd in Coleorton, Leicestershire in 1861.  In 1866 he married Susanna Foster, a 15 year old servant in Churchover. They lived there for the rest of their lives and had thirteen children. 


                                                                      Samuel and Susanna in the 1900s

Samuel worked as a farm labourer until the 1900s  when he became a  county council road maintenance worker.  He probably gave his name to a building called 'Leatherland's Barn' in the fields behind Churchover.  He died at the age of 75.  Susanna lived until 1927.  Both are buried in the churchyard in Churchover with a headstone memorial.

Jack Leatherland, Bandmaster

John Edward Leatherland (Jack) was born in Churchover in 1870. He joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at a young age  and served in India, Ceylon and Afghanistan during the 1880s and 1890s. He is believed to have been a bandmaster, although recently released service records make no mention of this. In 1897 he married  Elizabeth Abbis in Birmingham. She was a blacksmith's daughter.

He had various jobs after the army :  bandmaster at an  Industrial School for young offenders,  gardener at a truant school,  valet and domestic servant, and finally worked for Cadburys as a joiner and packing case maker.

His wife died at the age of 34 leaving four young sons. Having advertised for a housekeeper to help look after them, he later married the lady who got the job, Rosina Atkins, a Londoner and daughter of a portmanteau [suitcase] maker. They had one daughter, Rosa.

Jack Leatherland died in Essex in 1945 at the age of 74.  Rosina died 5 years later.

Charles Leatherland - Journalist and Politician

My grandfather, Charles Leatherland, was born in Birmingham in 1898. He left school at 14 and joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at the outbreak of the First World War.

After the war he became a journalist in Macclesfield, Cheshire and then in 1924 he moved to London to work at Labour Party head office as a Parliamentary Correspondent. Five years later he became a Politicial Sub-Editor on the Daily Herald newspaper where he worked for over 30 years becoming Assistant Editor. 


                                                                         Charles Leatherland

He was active in local politics and in public life becoming a district and county councillor, a magistrate, and a writer on local government affairs in the national press. Following his retirement from the Daily Herald, he became a Labour peer in the House of Lords. He died at the age of 94. For more information on Charles Leatherland's life, have a look at my site 

John Leatherland 



My uncle, John Leatherland, continued the family tradition of serving in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment after the Second World War in the Intelligence Corps in Germany and Austria.  Later he worked as an advertising rep. His carried out all of the early research into the Leatherland family history. He married Esther Steckmann in 1954. They have two daughters and three grandsons. John died in 2018. 

Irene Leatherland


My mother Irene Leatherland served in the Women's Royal Air Force during World War Two and then worked at Labour Party head office in Westminster for 15 years as a secretary and conference officer. She married Douglas Richards in 1961. She has two children and two grandsons. She died in 2014. 


So, there we have it.  A family traced back ten generations to the mid-seventeenth century. Or is it ? All family trees make assumptions and mine is no different.  There are gaps and uncertainties and a few educated guesses.  I am hoping that further research will fill in the gaps but in my experience the more you find out, the less clear everything becomes !

For detailed family trees please see my tribal pages site

David Richards :