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Welcome to the Leathers Family
Welcome, all you Leathers Family genealogy researchers! Kick your shoes off and stay awhile. Your hosts, Bud and Jean Leathers, hope you find this
sit to be informative and helpful. If you look to the menu on the left you'll see that our site contains information about the Leathers Family that we've been able to accumulate and helpful ideas for
basic and advanced research that are applicable not only on the Leathers Family, but on all genealogical research. We've also assembled a collection of free resource links to assist you in locating
your own family history including databases, electronic images, and useful software. And we've established a message board for use in communicating with others following up the Leathers, and related
Origins of the Family Name
Some Leathers, perhaps most, sprang from England around the Cheshire and Lancashire area. Probably the majority of the records tie in to the Cheshire area. In the beginning the name was most probably spelled "Lether". Around the 1800s spellings were standardized. Even so, there are numerous variations of the Leathers name floating around today including, Leather, Leathers, Lether, Lethar, Lethere, Leether, Leither, Lither, Lauder, Laudor, Lawder, Lawther and Lauther. According to Dr. Simon R. Leather, of the Leather Family History Society, (bet you didn't know there was such a thing!) there are also completely separate roots of the Leathers name originating from mainland Europe. This is reflected in such names as Löther, Leuther and perhaps Luther.
One example of this is a German branch of the Leathers family which began with a man variously known by the names of Johann Paulis Lederer, Johannes Paulus Lederer, Paul Lederer or, as he listed it in his will, Paul Leatherer, and his wife, Margaret Clore Leatherer (Lederer). The Lederers immigrated here from Germany in 1733 arriving in Philadelphia on a ship named the Johnson. He settled in Virginia and had a number of sons who spread out into Kentucky, North Carolina and Illinois. At least one of his sons (the will shows all his children,) "John", changed his last name to "Leathers", and thus began a German branch of the Leathers family which is completely separate from the more familiar English branch.
Still another non-English Leathers family sprang even earlier from Switzerland. Coincidentally, his name was Johannas Leder, born sometime between about 1660 and 1670. By 1691 he had immigrated to the United States, specifically to Lancaster County (later to become York County), Pennsylvania, where he had a son, Frederick Leder, Leeder, Lederer, Lether, Leather, or Leathers, depending on which document you see him listed on. Frederick in turn married Anna Elizabeth and they had six children beginning with Jacob Leathers in 1732, all of whom took on them the name "Leathers". So here is yet another non-English root to the Leathers name originating this time in Switzerland.
One of the earliest records using the "Leathers" spelling is Edward Leathers. Although his exact date of birth is unknown, he had a son who was also named Edward Leathers, born 1639 in England, died 1709 in Durham, Strafford, New Hampshire, England. This would quite likely put the father's birth at some time between 1600 and 1610 or thereabouts.
The Meaning of Leathers
How did the Leathers name come to be? Does it have any particular meaning, or is it just a sound with no special significance? In our family we have known for generations that the name Leathers is in fact an old Algonquin Indian word meaning, "This motorhome drives like a herd of drunken buffalo!". It may be, however, that your Leathers Family name has different origins.
It was common back in jolly old England to choose a last name in one of three ways. First, after the name of the locale where a person hailed from. The name of "Durham" was probably given to someone who came from Durham, for example. Second, you could be named for who you were within your own family. For instance, if you were the son of a man named John, you might end up being given the surname of "Johnson", or if your name was James and your father's name was James, they would call him James and call you "young James", which was then turned around and used as your surname turning you into "James Young". Or third, a name might come from the trade or occupation a person engaged in. For instance, "Shoemaker" very likely became the last name of someone who made shoes for a living, or if you were a skin tanner you would be given the name "Tanner". Such appears to be the roots of the Leathers name.
It would be fun to say that our name comes from a long list of royalty, but, alas, the best evidence indicates it is derived from persons who worked manufacturing leather and leather goods. Even those names of Germanic and Swiss descent as were mentioned above probably had similar origins, as the German word "leder" means "leather". It was not uncommon for immigrants to the United States to Anglocize their surnames upon entering the country. Thus Leder or Lederer becomes Leathers and Shumacher becomes Shoemaker, and so on. This is good information to keep in mind for those of you who are searching out names that had their origins in the trade the person engaged in, as some of the skilled trades formed guild associations which maintained records of their members. If you hit that wall where you can't find that next ancestor, try searching for the old guild membership records.
A Leathers Family Coat of Arms?
The truth is a coat of arms was not given to a family, despite what you may read on the many websites which purport to research and sell them to you. They were only granted to individuals, not entire families, (there are a few exceptions where families were granted a coat of arms in Eastern Europe.) A coat of arms was considered personal property and could only be used by the individual to which it had been granted, or by his direct descendents, provided they could prove an unbroken line of relationship to the original owner. Women whose fathers owned a coat of arms, and who married a man who also had a coat of arms were allowed to combine the two into a single, new coat of arms. The determination on who may or may not claim a coat is made on a case by case basis by the proper heraldic authority for the country in which a coat of arms originated.
Should you come across, or purchase a coat of arms that was allegedly given to "The Leathers Family", understand that...it wasn't! Unless the company you purchased it from has thoroughly researched your individual family line and found you to be in a direct, unbroken line of descent from the original owner, AND the proper heraldic authority has granted you permission to display it, then all you have is a curiosity. It is extremely unlikely you are even related to the original owner.
If you believe you have a legitimate coat of arms and would like to be granted the authority to display it there are several heraldic authorities in England (assuming your branch of the family hails from England,) you may contact to have your claim researched and permission to display granted. One excellent group is the College of Arms. They provide information on documenting your lineage, designing coats of arms and everything related to heraldry including links of other groups. There are fees involved, so don't be shocked when they ask you to drop a thousand US dollars. Status hath not only its privileges but also its price, and the price runs around a $1000.00 US. More, if you need them to research and document your claim. It might be simpler and less expensive to design your own and have it registered. Another excellent source of information on heraldry, the creation of a coat of arms and so forth here in America is The American College of Heraldry. The Amature Heralds Website maintains a pretty good list of contacts and websites for heraldic authorities in various countries of the world.
Whether we have a personal coat of arms or not it is interesting to delve into the meanings behind coats of arms. An example of a Leathers coat of arms might have looked like this:
Various elements of the coat of arms had special meanings. The colors, the shields, the heraldic lines and symbols all have meanings which were representative of the individual. For an excellent general explanation of the parts of coats of arms go to Fleurdelis.com. The example of the Leathers coat of arms to the left could be decoded roughly as follows: The predominant color is blue, signifying loyalty and truth. The silver of the shield and accent colors signifies peace and sincerity. The two creatures on the shield are "Phoenix birds", signifing renewal, rebirth, or resurrection. They are black, and the color black represents constancy and sometimes grief. The diagonal blue stripe across the shield is called a "bend", and it signifies defense and protection. The edge of the bend is textured in a particular way that is called "embattled", and it is symbolic of the walls of a fortress or town. On top of the helm is a red lion, with the lion denoting deathless courage and the color red describing military fortitude.
We'll leave it up to you to guess as to the character and station in life of the Leathers to whom this coat of arms was originally issued.
Exchanging Genealogy Records
If you're ready to have a look at some of our research you'll find it on the "Our Family Tree" page (see menu at left.) Because of the expense of direct downloading from our site we will send you copies of our files via e-mail rather than by allowing direct downloads. Of course, we are also interested in adding any information you may have that we haven't accumulated yet, so please, let us know what records you have because we would love to trade information.
We will send our data in the form of Gedcom files which you will need to open and convert to whatever program you use to record your genealogy. We use Personal Ancestral File, version 4, which is a free program published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It can be downloaded at the Family Search Website if you would like to try it out. Gedcom files are a special file format that is compatible with virtually all of the popular genealogy programs, so whether you use Personal Ancestry File, Family Tree Maker, Legacy, or whatever, you will be able to use Gedcoms. If working with Gedcom files is new to you, please let us know and we'll try to walk you through the process of converting them.