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About the study
We are attempting to bring together all families worldwide with the surname 'Leeds'. For the past 50 years or more we have been gathering information and instances of the name from all parts of the world, much of it random detail that yet has to be connected in any concrete fashion to any particular Leeds family. Together with cousins Sheila and Michael we have sketched our own Kentish family tree with confidence back to the early 1600s and, yet to be verified, back to the late 1400s and early 1500s.
Leeds, Leades, Leedes, Leede, Lede, Ledes, Lydes, Ledys, Ledis, Leed. Also St. Alphonse aka George Leeds, adopted by a French family in 1825 and Leeds-George of Lydd (19th Cent)
Leeds is the name of two habitations within the UK. The City of Leeds in west Yorkshire and the small village of Leeds in Kent, known mainly for its beautiful moated castle with Saxon origins. Leeds, West Yorkshire, was first mentioned in the 5th Century, an area covered by forests known as 'Loidis', believed to have Celtic origins. Leeds, Kent, is 5 miles east of Maidstone (the county town of Kent) and may have taken its name from a local stream known in pre-Norman times as Hlyde, 'the noisey one'. It was recorded as 'Esleads' in 1086 (Domesday Book), 'Hlydea' and 'Hiedes' in the 12th century and 'Leeds' in the 17th century.
History of the name
The earliest instance of the name so far is in 1185, Norman de Ledes (Penshurst Manuscripts 1150-1590) The oldest Will so far transcribed is that of Thomas Ledys of Woodchurch, Kent, 1476. On 23rd December 1691 Samuel Leeds, with others, was made to stand in the pillory at Bury St.Edmonds, Suffolk, offence committed not disclosed. (Treasury Books 1689-1692) Ordinary Seaman Thomas Leeds, aged 22, born Co. Down, Ireland, was on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar 21st October 1805. John Leeds serving in the 23rd Regiment of Foot was present at the Battle of Waterloo on Sunday 18th June 1815.
Census 1841-603: 1851-686: 1861-658: 1871-679:1891-1162(a) 1901-862 ((a) this figure is suspect).
Distribution of the name
Within the UK, mainly in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent and to lesser extent Buckinghamshire,Bedfordshire, Cambridge, Co Durham, Hampshire, Lincolnshire, London, Surrey and Sussex. There are now many instances in the USA, (some lines from settlers in the 17th Century) Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Wills, presently mainly from Kent from 1471. Civil Registrations of Births, Marriages and Deaths from 1837 to the 1950s. Many embyo individual family histories and instances of the name. Parish Register transcripts of Cranbrook, Benenden, Biddenden, Marden, High Halden, Horsmonden and Bethersden in Kent. Many miscellaneous entries for Norfolk Parish Records.
Currently there is one project being run at www.familytreedna.com If you are a male 'Leeds' please take part in this project with object of mapping and linking families.