OUR LEONARD FAMILY
SOLOMON LEONARD (mar. Sarah Chandler)
JOHN LEONARD (mar. Sarah Chandler?)
MOSES LEONARD (mar. Mercy Newton)
MERCY LEONARD (mar. Samuel Robinson Sr.)
SOLOMON LEONARD was born about 1610 in or near Monmouthshire in the southwestern part of England. He was the earliest settler in this country by name of Leonard, and is the acknowledged ancestor of the “Bridgewater Branch of the Leonard Family”.
View Larger Map
He probably emigrated first to Leyden in Holland, probably with his father whose name was probably Samuel. They may have come to this country together; if so, the father must have died soon after. The history of Bridgewater states that 35 of the Leyden people with their families arrived at Plymouth in 1629, and 60 more came in 1630.
The family name was sometimes written Leonardson, Lennerson, or Lenner, but by the family themselves, always written Leonard. It was quite common at this period to distinguish the son from the father by adding “son” to the name. In some cases the additional syllable was permanently adopted.
FIRST OF PLYMOUTH COLONY
AND DUXBURY, MASSACHUSETTS
He was engaged in the service of the Colony Company in Plymouth for a time, but became one of the early settlers of Duxbury, Massachusetts. Duxbury seems to have been settled by the people of Plymouth, since seven of the twenty subscribers to the civil compact signed in the cabin of the Mayflower in November of 1620 – and who also survived that fatal first winter – became inhabitants of Duxbury, i.e., Elder Brewster, Capt. Standish, Mr. Alden, Mr. Howland, Francis Eaton, Peter Brown and George Soule. At one time Duxbury was a vast area including within its bounds several towns, including Bridgewater.
View Larger Map
The exact date of Solomon Leonard’s settlement in Duxbury cannot be fixed. Some records indicate he was there when the town was incorporated in 1637. He had land at “Blue Fish” near the bay, in what is now the northerly part of the village of Duxbury.
SOME DUXBURY COURT RECORDS
- “Solomon Lenner” is promised lands on Duxburrow side in some convenient place, in part of lands due to him for service (dated 7 May 1638).
- “Solomon Lenner” is granted 25 acres of land on the east side of the lands granted to “Edmond Chaundor”, bounded at the upper end with a swamp (dated 4 Feb 1638/9).
One record states that Solomon Leonard was admitted freeman in 1643, but his name doesn’t appear in the printed list of those admitted from Duxbury that year. He was, however, listed among those “males that are able to beare armes from XVI yeares old to 60 yeares within the Towneshipp of Duxburrow 1643”.
- In the Deeds Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, 16 September 1645, “Solomon Lenner” of Duxborrow and Morris Truant exchanged houses, uplands and meadows. Solomon Leonard’s land had recently been purchased from Edward Bumpas. The land he exchanged with Mr. Truant was at “Blew ffish Riuer”. No record of conveyance of these lands have been found. (In the vast number of instances at this period and for fifty more years, deeds of purchase were never recorded.)
SOLOMON LEONARD IN BRIDGEWATER, MASSACHUSETTS
Along with the renowned George Soule, Miles Standish, John Alden, William Bradford and others – fifty-four in all – Solomon Leonard became one of the original proprietors of Bridgewater and one of the earliest settlers there. Thus he is known as the Ancestor of the Bridgewater Leonards.
The grant of the plantation by the Court was not made until 1645, and the Indian title to the territory was made by deed of “the good old Massasoit,” dated 23 March 1649. The town was not incorporated as a distinct township until 1656. It contained at one time about 96 square miles of territory. Within its bounds were “the Four Bridgewaters”.
The first settlement was made near what is now West Bridgewater. Each settler had at first a grant of a house lot of six acres on the town river. At that time it was called Nuckatest or Nuncketetest, an Indian name in close affinity with that of the pond from which it flows, now called Nippenicket. It went by other names formerly. And the settlement was called after the name of the river, Nuncketest, or Nunckety, sometimes Unkety. These Indian names were variously written. The plantation bore the more general appellation of Satucket.
These house lots were contiguous and the settlement was compact, with a view to mutual aid when common protection and defence against the Indians should be required, and extended on each side of the river. Solomon Leonard’s house-lot seems to have been near the center. On this he erected a humble habitation that was probably the dwelling place of himself and family to the close of his life.
THE TOWN CHURCHES
A church was formed in Duxbury as early as 1632. Rev. Ralph Partridge, “a man of pious and blameless life, gentleness of spirit, and meekness of heart,” was the minister from 1637 until his death in 1658. The records of this church were burned with those of the town, so we cannot know if the Leonards were members.
The same is true regarding the church at Bridgewater, which was organized on its first settlement. Rev. James Keith was Bridgewater’s first settled minister, ordained in 1664, serving as pastor until his death in 1719. He was from Scotland, educated at the University of Aberdeen, “a worthy man, faithful shepherd, and able divine,” on intimate terms with Increase Mather, Judge Sewell, and the leading men of that day. He wrote many of the deeds, wills, etc., of his parishioners, and, without doubt, kept a careful church record, but it cannot be found.
The first minister of Bridgewater did not preach, nor did his hearers practice, a sickly sentimentality, which showed more sympathy for the criminal than love for the observance of law, but he taught and they believed in, a willing obedience to law, and in the speedy punishment of its violators. They devoutly believed in prayer and trusted in God; but they also trusted in their own right to bear arms for their defense. When attacked by the Indians, whom they had treated with uniform kindness, they did not abandon their homes, as advised to do by the timid of other settlements, nor did they, trembling, wait for the Lord to specially interpose for their deliverance; but, seizing their weapons with determined hearts, they attacked the foe and drove him from their settlement.
The founders were governed, in all their thoughts and in all their movements, by high religious and moral principle. They were not adventurers who had left their country for a time to mend their fortunes and then return; they came to seek a permanent abiding place, to establish a home for themselves and their descendants, which would satisfy their cherished ideas of a pure, religious commonwealth. They came with little property; but the means on which they relied – next to an undoubting faith in the providence of God – were earnest minds and willing hands.
AS TO EDUCATION
The remarkable growth in advancing from poverty to competency, to wealth, and to all the refinements of an advanced civilization, are mainly attributable to two qualities – industry and frugality. Hard and persevering labor in a laudable and honest calling brought no discouragement, no want of respect, no loss of social position. This was a general and pervading feeling and extended to all classes and to both sexes. Mothers and daughters, as well as fathers and sons, were motivated alike by a common devotion to useful industry to advance the common interests of the family.
It was stated in the history of the town that the inhabitants of the town contributed twelve pounds in Indian corn, for the rebuilding of Harvard College. That statement implies that the townsmen were enough interested in education that they leapt forth to provide the Indian corn for the rebuilding of Harvard College. In point of fact, there never was any corporate action for establishing schools within the town until 1700, when “a scholar who came out from England by name of Thomas Martin” was engaged for four years to keep a school in four places in the town in each year – three months at each location.
The thing about the Indian corn for the rebuilding of Harvard was this. The Colony sent out from town to town soliciting subscriptions, hopefully cash, to accomplish the rebuilding of the brick building. The townsmen gladly, or under societal pressure – it didn’t matter which, only that it was done – made subscriptions, or pledges, to contribute. The college really wanted funds, but most of the villagers throughout the Colony were too strapped for cash to contribute in that way. Many ended up giving building materials or grains, as did the villagers of Bridgewater, “twelve pounds in Indian corn”.
There were, actually, few among the early settlers who laid claim to much scholarship, but most of them had a general intelligence and practical good sense so much more useful to men in their condition. The Leonards seem to have been all during their lives deprived of schools and education, but Solomon and his family must have acquired instruction and growth in grace, refinement, and virtue, from the daily interaction with their neighbors, some of whom were likely of more culture and intelligence than they; and definitely from the ministration, instruction, and example of such pious, faithful and beloved ministers as the reverends Ralph Partridge and James Keith.
These characteristics were no small thing to be built into the foundational framework of our country, for out of such men as these came our “founding fathers”. So, yes, these people were uneducated, and were what has been termed our “rude forefathers,” but they were respectable, honest, industrious, frugal, and thrifty – all worthy traits.
WIVES AND MOTHERS
In speaking of those who gave a special character to the first generation, and whose teaching and influence trained up those after them, we must not pass over the wives and mothers who came into the wilderness to give to the spot its strongest attraction, the simple charm of home. They came here while the howl of the wolf was yet heard from the deep forest around them at midnight. Often and again did they clasp their little ones, with more than a mother’s tenderness, as they saw the shadowy form of the savage stealthily prowling around their scattered dwellings; or they waited in fearful suspense for the return of a husband from the bold forays in which they sought for the foe in his lair.
My primary source states that there is no record of the surname of Leonard’s wife, nor the date of their marriage, or the births of their children, and claims only that her Christian name was MARY. Mr. Manning states they were undoubtedly married before 1640 and had a large family, most of the children probably born in Duxbury and several dying while young.
Based on some recent information sent to me by email (see Secondary References), I have decided to cite Leonard's wife as SARAH CHANDLER, the daughter of Chilton and Isabella Chandler. They married about 1640 in Duxbury.
There are some questions along with this decision as Solomon's son John Leonard (our ancestor), is cited as having married Sarah Chandler, the daughter of Roger Chandler. (See below, under "Children".)
A SNIPPET ON HOME LIFE
As they had aided in the subduing and settlement of the two towns, their lives must have been filled with almost ceaseless care and labor, with few conveniences and no luxuries. Their house, like others of that period, was probably made from hewn logs, with the spaces filled with clay; the chimney, made of sticks or stones and plastered outside and within with clay, and was built against one end on the outside of the house.
Their clothing was of homespun woolen, flax, or hemp, supplemented perhaps with leather made from the skins of deer. Their food consisted of various preparations of Indian corn, beans, rye or wheat bread, a few vegetables, fish, clams, lobsters, wild game and, in their season, the berries and wild fruit that were common in New England. Beef and mutton were luxuries seldom indulged in and neither potatoes, tea, nor coffee had been heard of. Their dishes, doubtless, were few and mainly of wood, with perhaps a plate or two of pewter.
AT WAR WITH INDIANS
At the time of King Philip’s War, around 1675, and subsequently, the anticipated or actual raids of the Indians occasioned frequent hasty removals of the probate and other papers and records, for safety, which resulted in serious loss. For several years the whole country was agitated, and absorbed in these Indian wars and nearly everything else seems to have been left to “take care of itself.” It is quite impossible for us to have any conception of affairs at that period.
The town of Bridgewater ordered the meeting house and minister’s house to be fortified, powder and ball to be procured, and pay for soldiers provided. The fortification about the meeting house to be made with half trees, seven feet high above the ground, six rods long and four rods wide, beside the flankers.
On the 4th of October 1675, the Colony Records show that the Court proclaimed a “sollemne day of humilleation,” to be observed by fasting and prayer which was observed on the 14th of October throughout the jurisdiction, to “humble our soules, and seeke and begg the Lord’s healp in our psent troubles, by reason of the Indians,” their persisting in their hostility and barbarous cruelty and outrage against the English.
It was ordered that, during that time of public anger, every one that came to the meeting on the Lord’s day bring his armes with him, with at least six charges of powder and “shott”, untill further order was given.
The Court took into serious consideration (what they termed) “the tremendous dispensations of God” towards the people of Dartmouth, in allowing the “barborus heathen to spoile and destroy most of theire habitations, the enimie being greatly advantaged ..... by theire scattered way of living.” After this, in the rebuilding and resettleing, they designed to compact together, att least in each village, the better to defend themselves from the assault of the enemy, and the better to attend the publik worship of God, and ministry of the word of God.
I mention other towns because what affected them, during this time, also affected Bridgewater, and Bridgewater was looking to them for an example of how to rebuild. The town of Dartmouth, 25 miles distant from Bridgewater, was attacked by the Indians several months before this date (October of 1675). Many of the houses were burned and the inhabitants slain. The people of Middleborough only about 10 miles distant, all fled to Plymouth for protection and all their houses were burned. At a later period, Bridgewater was savagely attacked, but the people courageously and successfully defended themselves. Though very many of the men of this town were engaged in the war from the very beginning to its close, not one was slain.
SOLOMON LEONARD ONCE MORE
IN THE COLONY RECORDS
Once more before his death, Solomon Leonard’s name appears on the Colony Records of 4 March 1658/9. An Inquest was held regarding the body of “an English Man” which some Indians took up out of the River of Tetacutt, a little below Nemaskett. “Wee found noe blemish about the man that should in any way cause his death, but as we conceive was drowned accidentally.” Solomon Leonard was associated on the inquest with others of Bridgewater, nearly all of whom are found prominently connected with the early history of the town.
Soon after this period he acquired the respectful title of “Goodman Lennerson,” which he bore till he died.
The date of Solomon Leonard’s death remains unknown, however before 1 May 1671, at Bridgewater. He was probably buried in the ancient graveyard at West Bridgewater. The History of Bridgewater, by Judge Mitchell states that he died in 1686. That error has been repeated by the eminent New England biographer Mr. Savage and many others. This seems very strange for the Court Records of Plymouth, the records of deeds there, and the Proprietor’s Records of Bridgewater, were quite well known, and any of these records would have shown that he must have died many years before 1686. Mitchell also stated in his history that Solomon Leonard’s estate was settled by his son Samuel and was the first settlement recorded in Plymouth Probate Court. Mr. Savage noted and took exception to it, but made no explanation. At any rate, no death date is recorded for Solomon Leonard, nor has any record of the settlement of his estate ever been found. But few papers relating to transactions during that period can be found. There are, however, some records regarding his estate.
THE SETTLEMENT OF SOLOMON LEONARD’S ESTATE
Plymouth Colony Records of Deeds (Book 3, pg. 199) includes a confirmatory deed from Solomon Leonard’s son Samuel, to his brother, John:
First of the third month May 1671
“Forasmuch as my father Sollomon Leonard of Bridgewater while he was living did with my mother fully and firmly bestow on my brother John Leonard fifty acres of land being and buting on the south or southwesterly syde of Punkatest river next adjoining unto Ehler Brett his fifty acre Lott that he bought or exchanged with Robert Latham on the one syde and unto my land on the other syde with all the meddow and not having made Deed of Gift unto my brother John Leonard, being prevented by death, I Samuell Leonard confirm my hand and seal this first of the third month May 1671. Acknowledged before mee Constant Southworth, Assistant.”
27 October 1675
In reference to the dispose of “Sollomon Leonardson”, of Bridgewater, deceased, the Court ordered, that such particulars as belong to Samuel Leonardson, the eldest son of the said Leonardson, being first set apart, i.e.,
50 acres of upland, on the SE side of Nunekatateesett River, and
20 more acres adjoining to it on the N side, and
12 acres at Bridgewater on which the house standes, and
three lots of “meddow”, containing 2-1/2 acres or thereabouts and
50 acres of land pertaining to John Leonardson, the second son of the said Sollomon Leonardson, and
all debts owing to any from the estate be first paid,
the Court ordered, settled and distributed the remainder as follows: –
Samuell Leonardson, the eldest son of the said Solomon Leonardson, should have a double portion, with what he had already received from his father of his estate, both real and personal, and the remainder was to be equally divided among the rest of the children in equal portions. The Court granted the administration of the estate to the eldest son, Samuel.
The original bond dated October 27, 1675 given by Samuel Leonard to settle his father’s estate was found in the Probate Office in Plymouth upon a search by the author of my primary reference (see below). In this document, Samuel Leonardson was of Bridgewater in the Jurisdiction of New Plymouth, and listed himself as “Carpenter”. His bond was for £100. He listed his father Solomon Lenardson, also of Bridgewater, as a Weaver. This bond was his guarantee that he had obtained letters of administration, and that he would administer the estate of his father. He signed it with his Seal.
Why legal steps were not taken to settle the estate sooner is difficult to understand. Perhaps efforts to do this by agreement were made and failed. Possibly it may have been arranged to defer it until the death of the widow, which had doubtless now occurred, as no mention is made of her and no provision granted in the order of the Court.
Due, evidently, to the application of our John Leonard (in the 2nd generation), a grant of land to the family was made posthumously by the Plymouth Colony because of Solomon Leonard being “one of the old servants” of the Colony. More on this, the next page.
CHILDREN OF SOLOMON LEONARD SR.
- Samuel Leonard, born about 1643; married first, Abigail Wood; married secondly, Deborah. Samuel styled himself “Planter” on a land document in the 1681.
- JOHN LEONARD, born about 1645. He married Sarah Chandler, the daughter of Roger Chandler.
- Jacob Leonard was born in Duxbury about 1647. He married first, Phebe Chandler, dtr. of Roger Chandler, one of the “three sisters” probably about the time he came of age. The tradition is that he was with the earliest settlers of Quinsigamond (Worcester). If so, he was driven off as were the others, by the Indians in 1675. The family may have tarried for awhile in Marlborough, but probably during most of King Philip’s war were in Bridgewater as that was considered more secure from the attacks of the Indians than the newer towns. He was in Weymouth in 1679 and married (2), Susanna King of that town. She was born in Weymouth on 6 May 1659 and died in Bridgewater before 1730. They lived a few years in Weymouth where their oldest two daughters were born.
Possibly they may have lived a short time in Mendon, but on the second attempt to settle Quinsigamond, now named Worcester, in 1684-85 he and his family located in the vicinity of what is now called Quinsigamond Lake. They were, however, so troubled by the raids of the Indians that they became discouraged and removed to Bridgewater about May 1, 1693, for the town records show that at this date they were “warned out”.*
The biography continues on pgs. 38-40 of Manning Leonard’s book on the Leonard family (see below).
To learn what being “warned out of town” meant in those days,
and for an example of the document, click here.
- Isaac Leonard, born about 1650; married Deliverance.
Email received 4/4/13 from Allan Vaughan of SW PA, son of Ruby Leonard Vaughan, a 9th generation descendant of Isaac. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Solomon Leonard, born after 1650; married Mary.
- Mary Leonard, born after 1650; married 21 December 1673, John Pollard.
Memorial: Genealogical, Historical, and Biographical of Solomon Leonard, 1637, of Duxbury and Bridgewater, Mass., by Manning Leonard. Southbridge, Mass., 1896.
Email dated 4/4/13 from Allan Vaughan of SW PA, son of Ruby Leonard Vaughan, a 9th generation descendant of Solomon and Sarah's son Isaac, states that Leonard's wife was Sarah Chandler. He wrote:
"For many years I too used the same name Mary for wife Solomon Leonard of Duxbury and Bridgewater MA, as did many others. The name Mary (no last name) apparently began with the History of Bridgewater by Mitchell. Some Mitchell info on Bridgewater in Manning Leonard's Memorial was corrected.
"However, some years ago Mayflower Families Thru Five Generations gave new information: Solomon married Sarah Chandler, daughter of Roger and Isabella (Chilton) Chandler. The Chandlers and Solomon (and perhaps his father, stayed at Leyden Holland when the Mayflower sailed, and according to Plymouth Gov Bradford they came over in 1629 or 30. Another researcher said that perhaps Mitchell confused a different Solomon, perhaps his son, that also married a Sarah Chandler, but a different one."
Solomon Leonard, a GENI website managed by Dale R Wilson, Last Updated: November 24, 2014. He writes: "If you surf enough family trees on Ancestry.com, RootsWeb, or even the IGI, sooner or later you’ll find Solomon Leonard called 'John Solomon' Leonard, married to 'Mary' rather than Sarah Chandler. Blasphemy! I say, as the Bible of all things Mayflower, The Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Vol 15, p8, clearly states that:
SARAH CHANDLER3 (Isabella2 Chilton, James1)… m. Duxbury ca. 1640 SOLOMON LEONARD (LENNER or LEONARDSON), b. prob. Monmouthshire, England ca. 1610; d. Bridgewater bef. 1 May 1671."
The Pilgrim Republic, by John A. Goodwin (Ticknor & Co.).
Provides a very vivid impression of the lives of the early emigrants to New England; accurate and intensely interesting. See also the stories by Mrs. Jane (Goodwin) Austen.
Click your Back button to return
to the page you just left to get here.
Official Website of the
Hopkins-River and Related Families
This is the Solomon Leonard Family Page
Presentation Copyright © 2009 Joann River
Last Updated - 13 January 2015
This candle was lit on September 11th, 2001, in memory of
those who perished at the hands of terrorists.
Keep it burning for our children.
This website was begun on Geocities. This logo was designed
by Nanny's Victorian Graphics - no longer on the internet.