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                                            LEATHERLANDS IN THE CENSUSES

I carried out an analysis of the censuses to work out the geographical distribution of the surname.
This shows that :

  • The Leatherland name is rare throughout the nineteenth century
  • Litherland is the most common version 
  • Most Litherlands lived in Lancashire
  • In Northants and Warwickshire where my ancestors originated the name is exceedingly rare

                         1841 Census


There are 641 Leatherlands including all variations of the name in England and Wales. The main variations are Litherland (348) and Letherland (70). There are 192 Leatherlands. The regional breakdown is interesting.  Here are the top counties (for all variations of the name ) :

Lancashire - 245                         Leicestershire - 110 Nottinghamshire - 99

Derbyshire - 36                         Warwickshire - 35                        Staffordshire - 33

Northamptonshire - 19               Middlesex - 15

Out of the 245 Lancashire people, 199 are Litherlands. This, and the fact that Lancashire tops the list, supports the theory that the surname originated from the town of Litherland in Lancashire, and that Leatherland / Letherland is a variation of that name.  Just to put these figures in context, the total population of England and Wales in the 1841 census was nearly 15 million.

                              1851 Census


There are 671 in total. The surname variations break down as :

353 Litherland, 223 Leatherland, and 76 Letherland. The regional breakdown is : Lancashire - 244 Leicestershire - 128 Nottinghamshire - 118 Staffordshire - 52 Warwickshire - 29 Lincolnshire - 15 Yorkshire - 14 Middlesex - 13 Derbyshire - 12 Northamptonshire - 12

The total population of the UK in the 1851 census was over 16.7 million.

                      1861 Census


There is a total of 774 including variations. Litherland tops the list again with 342, Leatherland is next at 221, and then Letherland 151. The county breakdown is as follows :

Lancashire - 308                 Nottinghamshire - 117           Leicestershire - 88

Staffordshire - 57             London - 32                          Yorkshire - 27

Warkwickshire - 24            Middlesex - 17                     Northamptonshire - 12

Durham - 12                       Lincolnshire - 11                  Derbyshire - 11

The total population of the UK was 18.8 million.

                                                 1871 Census


                                      A Carte de Visite I found in a Warwick antique shop

The total including variations is 922, out of which 532 are Litherland, 322 Leatherland and 47 Letherland.  Top counties in the geographical breakdown are :

Lancashire - 376               Nottinghamshire - 163                Leicestershire - 115

Staffordshire - 70            Warwickshire - 38                     Yorkshire - 32

Northamptonshire - 17          Derbyshire - 15                      London - 11

Total population was just over 21.3 million. Interesting to see some in London, no doubt connected with the growth of London's population and the fact that rail transport made moving around so much easier.

                         1881 Census

1,129 total including 674 Litherland, 323 Leatherland and 61 Letherland. Geographical breakdown :

Lancashire - 457             Nottinghamshire - 194               Leicestershire - 110

Staffordshire - 85           Warwickshire - 52                  Cheshire - 46

Yorkshire - 46                 Northants - 21                     Lincolnshire - 16

Middlesex - 11                  Derbyshire -10               Surrey - 10

Total population 24.4 million.

                               1891 Census


                                       Linacre Lane, Litherland (photo coutesy of TheWraith5173)

There is a total of 1,357 consisting of 739 Litherland, 429 Leatherland and 79 Letherland. Regional breakdown :

Lancashire - 547                       Nottinghamshire - 222

Leicestershire - 131                  Staffordshire - 115

Yorkshire - 69                          Warwickshire - 66

Cheshire - 30                            Northants - 33

Middlesex - 24                         Derbyshire - 20

Lincolnshire - 17                       London - 16

Total population 27.2 million.

                      1901 Census


               Image courtesy of www.picturethepast.org.uk/NottinghamCityCouncil/Heritage-Images

Total is 1,590 consisting of 998 Litherland, 481 Leatherland, 81 Letherland.

Top counties :

Lancashire - 634               Nottinghamshire - 269

Leicestershire - 150          Staffordshire - 136

Yorkshire - 78                   Cheshire - 64

Warwickshire - 58             Northamptonshire - 39

Derbyshire - 33                 London - 24

Lincolnshire - 20                Worcestershire - 15

Essex - 14

Total population 30.5 million.

                                          1911 Census


                         An early motor car. Image provided courtesy of The National Archives

Total is 1,952 consisting of 1,103 Litherland, 602 Leatherland, 52 Letherland.

Top counties :

Lancashire - 665               Nottinghamshire - 298

Staffordshire - 159           Leicestershire - 155

Yorkshire - 105                 Cheshire - 98

Warwickshire - 82             Derbyshire - 54

Northamptonshire - 49       London - 42

Worcestershire - 36          Durham - 35

Northumberland - 31

Total population 33.6 million.

                                                                Census Patterns

Apart from highlighting the rarity of the Litherland / Leatherland / Letherland surnames, the census analysis shows that :

  • The name is particularly rare in the southern half of England. 
  • Lancashire Litherlands top the league in every census. 
  • Nottingham and Leicestershire are the counties where the name predominates during the 19th century. 
  • My own branches from Northants and Warwickshire are very much in the minority.

                                                 Nottinghamshire Leatherlands : 1881

I decided to make a study of Nottinghamshire Leatherlands based initially on the 1881 census. Out of the 194 entries, around 50% lived in the Basford registration district, and 50% in the Nottingham registration district, with only four people living elsewhere (a family based in the Bingham district). Basford covers the northern suburbs of Nottingham. So it appears that the Notts Leatherlands were predominantly urban dwellers, certainly by the 1880s. Let's look at some of the families in the census :

Frederick and Mary Leatherland lived at 42 Old Buildings, Bulwell. They had six daughters and one son. Frederick was a 40 year old miner. The children's ages ranged between 18 and 0. The two eldest daughters were working as a winder and a lace maker. The parents and children were all born in Bulwell.

Frederick Leatherland lived with his grandparents, Richard and Mary Spencer, in Austin Street, Bulwell. Although only 12 years old, the census said he was working as a bleacher. He was born in Bulwell.

Sarah Leatherland was an 18 year old domestic servant whowas born in Derbyshire. She was living in the Manse (minister's house) in the village of Greasley in the household of a congregational minister (who was born in Scotland).

John and Sarah Leatherland lived in 22 Old Buildings, Bulwell. They lived with their five sons and three daughters. John was a 50 year old coal miner, as was his eldest son.  All were born in Bulwell.

Thomas and Anne Leatherland lived in Basford. Thomas was born in Derbyshire and worked as a labourer at a tram station. They had three sons and one daughter.

John and Harriett Leatherland lived in Basford. John was a 60 year old labourer. Three sons in their 20s and two daughters lived with their parents. Two of the sons worked as dyers, one as a basket maker, their two daughters worked as lace menders.  The whole family were born in Basford. 

William and Eliza Leatherland lived in Eastwood. He was a 33 year old collier. Both parents were born in Derbyshire. They had five sons and one daughter, all were at school (except the youngest daughter). A boarder lived in the household. He was a 16 year old collier.

I picked these examples at random, but they do show certain patterns which seem to differ from my Northants ancestors : the domination of mining and textile occupations, the fact that adult children tended to remain living with their parents, and some limited migration mainly from Derbyshire. It's also interesting to note that out of the 194 Nottinghamshire entries, the majority (149) use the Leatherland spelling, with 36 Letherlands and only one Litherland.

                       Leicestershire Leatherlands

I carried out a similar analysis of the 1881 census for Leicestershire.  There are 110 entries, 70 of which use the Leatherland spelling and 33 as Litherland. They are spread over the county more evenly than in Nottinghamshire as follows (using the registration districts) : 30 in Barrow upon Soar, 17 in Ashby-de-la-Zouch , 16 in Lutterworth, 15 in Leicester, 15 in Loughborough,  10 in Blaby and 7 in Billesdon. It's also interesting to look at the census entries by age - this shows only four people aged 70 or over, four in their 60s, and eleven in their 50s.

I decided to look in more detail at the 16 Lutterworth registration district entries :

Jno [John] and Ann Leatherland lived in Wigston Parva with four sons and one daughter. John was a 42 year old shepherd born in Stoughton (Leics). His 19 and 12 year old sons were agricultural labourers.

Robert and Ann Leatherland lived in Broughton Astley. He was a 53 year old labourer born in the same village.

Arthur and Hannah Leatherland also lived in Broughton Astley with their two year old son and a cousin. Arthur was a 29 year old labourer. Arthur was born in the neighbouring village of Primethorpe.

John and Mary Leatherland lived in Pailton which came under the Lutterworth registration district, although Pailton is actually in Warwickshire. We have in fact met John before, as he is the son of my ancestor Samuel. John was a 50 year old carrier who lived with his 2 year old son and 12 year old step-daughter.

William Leatherland was a 25 year old agricultural labourer born in Stoughton who was living in Wibtoft as a lodger in the household of a farm servant and his family. Wibtoft is a very small village on the Warwicks/Leics border.

                             Lincolnshire Leatherlands


                                            St Mary's Church, Donington

I recently traced the family history of Nick Leatherland whose ancestors came from the Lincolnshire villages of Dowsdale, Whaplode Drove and Donnington/Donington. (Dowsdale near Peterborough is now in Cambridgeshire). I traced his Leatherland line back to James Leatherland (1777-1842) who was a farmer in Whaplode Drove. I have also possibly traced the family further back via the village of Donington to a John Leatherland who married in Donnington in 1754. The Leatherlands in this area seem to have worked as farmers. Although I focussed mainly on one family line, there were nine Leatherland marriages in Donnington between 1724 and 1754 which suggests that they had a major presence in that village. There were also two Leatherland marriages in Whaplode in 1738 and 1741. I think that Nick's line moved from Donnington to Whaplode some time between 1754 and 1777, although it is also possible that the Donnington Leatherlands family are a different (but related) family.

Although the nineteenth century Leatherlands in Whaplode Drove were land owning farmers (rather than farm labourers), they do not seem to have been major landowners. The 1851 census said that John Leatherland farmed 32 acres and employed one labourer. By 1871 he was farming 14 acres, and by 1881, 12 acres. These are fairly small acreages. The 1873 Return of Owners of Land included four Lincolnshire Leatherlands, but none exceeded 42 acres. By 1892, Nick's ancestor, John Thomas Leatherland, and his father were described as 'cottagers' in the parish register when John Thomas married. A cottager owned a cottage plus a few acres of land. However, there were only a handful of Leatherlands in the whole country who owned land.

                 The Leatherlands of Donington and Whaplode Drove

The story of the Leatherlands of Donington and Whaplode Drove begins with John Leatherland who married Elizabeth Sharp in 1754. They married in and came from the village of Donington, eight miles north of Spalding. They had a son Jno (John) baptised later that year. I also found a reference to a 'bastardy bond' for a boy named John born in 1754 as the illegitimate son of “John Leatherland the ygr yeoman of Donnington” and Mary Tyne, (ygr meaning younger). A yeoman was a man of some standing (not quite a gentleman, but above an ordinary labourer). The John Leatherland who fathered this boy may perhaps have been a younger brother of the John who married Elizabeth, but he could also be the same person. John Leatherland (1754-1819) married Mary, but I have not traced their marriage. They had at least six children all baptised in Whaplode Drove between 1777 and 1789. John was buried (as John Litherland) aged 66 in Whaplode Drove in 1819. His wife was buried as Mary Litherland aged 65 two years earlier. 

                            St John the Baptist Church, Whaplode Drove

Their son James Leatherland (1777-1842) married Elizabeth Ranson in 1800 in Holbeach. Elizabeth Ranson was 16 when she married. They had twelve children between 1801 and 1827 all baptised in Whaplode Drove. Four died at the ages of 5, 13, 26 and 34. James was described as a farmer in the baptism entries. In the 1841 census he was a farmer in Holbeach Drove. He died in 1842 aged about 64. His widow, Elizabeth, remained in Holbeach Drove. In 1851 she was a 67 year old 'annuitant' (a person who receives an income from an annuity), lodging with a farmer David Cross and his family. In 1861 she was a 77 year old widow of `independent means', living with her married daughter at Farm House, Holbeach. She died aged 80 in 1863 and was buried at Whaplode Drove.

John Leatherland (1827-1890) was baptised 1827 at St John's Church, Whaplode Drove, son of James and Elizabeth Leatherland. In 1841 he was a 14 year old living with his parents and siblings at Holbeach Drove. In 1849 he married Elizabeth Doads in Whaplode Drove. The parish register describes him as a farmer of Dowsdale. John and Elizabeth had nine children born between 1849 and 1863.  In 1851 John was a 23 year old farmer in Dowsdale. The census says he farmed 32 acres and employed one labourer. I can't find him or his family in the 1861 census but in 1871 he was 43 years old a farmer of 14 acres with his wife and three children still living in Dowsdale. By 1881 he was farming 12 acres. He died in Dowsdale in 1890 aged 63.

I found further evidence relating to the land holdings in the Lincolnshire volume of the 1873 Return of Owners of Land - the first national property survey since the Domesday Book. This showed John Leatherland of Whaplode owning 14 acres and 1 rood with a gross estimated rental value of £32 16s. The Return also listed J.T. Leatherland, Excs (probably executors) of Holbeach Drove owning 36 acres, John Leatherland of Skirbeck who owned 9 acres, and T. Leatherland of Boston who owned 42 acres. (There are in fact only a handful of Leatherlands in the whole country who owned land in the 1873 Return of Owners of Land, the others being in South Croxton, Leicestershire and Knowle, Warwickshire). I am not sure who JT Leatherland was.

John Thomas Leatherland (1863- ????) was born in 1863 in Whaplode. In 1871 he was 8 years old staying with his aunt, Mary Ann Dodes, a laundress in Peterborough. In 1881 he was 18, a farmer's son at Dog Drove, Holbeach, and a visitor in the household of William Money. By 1891 he was a farmer at Dowsdale Bank. In 1892 he married Rose Emma Cox at Whaplode Drove. Rose was 20 when she married. John and his father John were described as cottagers. Rose's family is believed to have owned land in the area and to have given some land for a chapel or church to be built in Dowsdale. John Thomas and Rose had four children between 1893 and 1898. But in the 1901 and 1911 censuses John Thomas Leatherland was not with his wife (although she was still described as married) and he has not been found anywhere. In 1901 his wife Rose Emma was a monthly nurse (who looked after women and their newly born baby during the first few weeks after birth) and a visitor staying with relatives, William and Mary Cox, in Peterborough. In 1911 Rose Emma Leatherland was still living in Peterborough with her children. Nick's family believes that John Thomas Leatherland moved to America. I have searched some of the UK emigration and US immigration records, and US censuses, but so far I have not found him. His absence from the 1901 and 1911 census suggests that he may have emigrated around that time.

Frederick Leatherland (1893–1956) was son of John Thomas and Rose Emma Leatherland. He was born in 1893. In 1901 he was a seven year old boy living / staying with his aunt and uncle, Rose and Frederick Foster, in Dowsdale. His brother Amos and sister Lily and Lydia were also there. In 1911 he was a 17 year old furrier in the engineering trade, living with his mother and siblings in Church Street, Peterborough. In 1915 he married Lily Edith Harming in Peterborough. They had five children between 1915 and 1928. They later divorced, and Lily remarried Rico Dajau a nightclub owner. Frederick died in 1956 aged 63. Their son John Richard Leatherland was Nick's grandfather.

                               Leatherland Websites and Other Contacts

If you are interested in Leatherland ancestry, there are several websites which I recommend :


Andy Leatherland's site  explained the origins of his Leatherland ancestors.  They came from Nottingham and have been traced back to Samuel Leatherland who married Martha Kirkham in 1790 in Nottingham. They had at least three children one of whom, Thomas, was Andy's great x 3 grandfather. Thomas married Maria, although the marriage certificate or parish register record has not been found. Thomas met a sad end hanging himself in a barn at the age of 43.  If you want to know more please visit Andy's site (although it does not seem to be currtently active) 


The website of Scott Leatherland of Evansville, Indiana. Scott is descended from George Leatherland of London, who was transported to America in 1741 and who you can read about in "Interesting Assorted Leatherlands".

Contact me : David Richards     

E-mail : davidr4u@btinternet.com

Site last updated April 2020