Leeds History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Anglo-Saxon name Leeds comes from the family having resided in Leeds a well-known town in the West Riding of Yorkshire. This place-name was aHabitation name which forms a broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. Habitation names were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. In this case the surname Leeds denotes someone who came from Leeds.

Early Origins of the Leeds family

The surname Leeds was first found in Leeds, a parish, and liberty, in the West Riding of York, comprising the market-town and borough of Leeds. [1]

"At the Conquest, the manor of Leeds was given to Ilbert de Lacy, who erected a baronial castle here, which was besieged by Stephen, King of England, on his route to Scotland, and in which Richard II., after his deposition, was for some time confined, previously to his removal to the Castle of Pontefract, where he was inhumanly murdered." [1]

As far as the first listings of the family, we must look elsewhere. Paulinus de Ledes was listed in Cheshire in 1175-1176; Peter de Ledes was listed in the Feet of Fines for Kent in 1198; and Hugh de Leedes was listed in 1285. [2]

Taking a moment to explore, the aforementioned Kent listing, Leeds is also a parish found there in the union of Hollingbourne, hundred of Eyhorne, lathe of Aylesford. "The parish is said to have derived its name from Ledian, councillor to Ethelbert II., who built a fortress here in 978. Leeds Castle, one of the most stately castles in the kingdom, is seated in a beautiful park, and surrounded by a moat: the buildings, which are entirely of stone, are ranged round a spacious quadrangle, and though they exhibit the architecture of different periods, produce, as a whole, a most striking effect." [1]

Early History of the Leeds family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Leeds research. Another 71 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1590, 1573, 1656, 1621, 1622, 1632, 1712, 1624, 1704, 1699, 1738, 1599, 1677, 1599 and 1677 are included under the topic Early Leeds History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Leeds Spelling Variations

Leeds has been spelled many different ways. Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Spelling variants included: Leeds, Lead, Leed, Leads and others.

Early Notables of the Leeds family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: Edward Leeds (died 1590), an English clergyman from Benenden, Kent, Rector of Croxton in 1573; Sir John Leedes (died 1656), an English landowner and politician, Member of Parliament for New Shoreham (1621-1622); Thomas Osborne (1632-1712), an English statesman; Jane Ward Leade (1624-1704), a Christian mystic from Norfolk, England; and Titan Leeds (1699-1738), an American almanac publisher, a "good friend and fellow student" of Benjamin Franklin. Interestingly, Edward Courtney (1599?-1677), was an English Jesuit, "whose real name was Leedes, was the son of Sir Thomas Leedes, K.B., by Mary...
Another 94 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Leeds Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Leeds migration to the United States +

In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Leedss to arrive on North American shores:

Leeds Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Timothy Leeds, who settled in Virginia in 1607
  • Timothy Leeds, who landed in Jamestown, Va in 1607 [3]
  • Richard Leeds with his wife Joanne and children settled in New England in 1637
  • Benjamin Leeds, who landed in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1645 [3]
  • Richard Leeds, who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1647 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Leeds Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Sarah Leeds, who landed in North Carolina in 1701 [3]
  • Abraham Leeds, who landed in North Carolina in 1701 [3]
  • Elizabeth Leeds, who arrived in North Carolina in 1701 [3]
  • Elizabeth Jane, Leeds Jr., who arrived in North Carolina in 1701 [3]
  • Martha Leeds, who arrived in North Carolina in 1701 [3]

New Zealand Leeds migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Leeds Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Ann Leeds, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1863

Contemporary Notables of the name Leeds (post 1700) +

  • Thelma Leeds (1911-2006), born Thelma Goodman, an American actress
  • Stacy Leeds (b. 1971), American law professor
  • Phil Leeds (b. 1916), American film and television actor, known for his roles in Rosemary's Baby, All In The Family, Three's Company, Night Court, Wings, Ally McBeal, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Larry Sanders Show and many more
  • Morris E. Leeds (1869-1952), American electrical engineer, awarded the Edward Longstreth Medal in 1920, the ASME Medal in 1946, and the IEEE Edison Medal in 1948, founder of the Leeds & Northrup Company in 1899
  • Lila Leeds (1928-1999), born Lila Lee Wilkinson, an American film actress, known for her roles in The Show-Off (1946) and Lady in the Lake (1947)
  • Eric Leeds (b. 1952), American jazz and funk musician
  • Douglas "Doug" Leeds (b. 1968), American businessman, current Chief Executive Officer of Ask.com
  • Charles J. Leeds, American politician, 37th Mayor of New Orleans (1874-1876)
  • Anthony Leeds (b. 1925), American anthropologist
  • Andrea Leeds (1914-1984), born Antoinette Lees, an American Academy Award nominated film actress, best known for her performance in Stage Door (1937)
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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