Tuesday, July 15, 2014

James Leonard and the Puritan Ironworks

About James Leonard

James Leonard was born in 1620 in Pontypool, Monmouthshire, Wales. He died in 1691 in Plymouth and was buried in 1691 in Raynham, Bristol, Massachusetts. James came with his brother Henry from Pontypool, Monmouthshire to Providence in 1645. He moved to Taunton 1652. He built his house about 1670, although the weather vane on it was dated 1700, and when the house was torn down before 1850 it was reputedly the oldest in New England. He was a friend of King Philip but his house was used as a garrison during King Philip's War, in about 1676, and it is said that the head of the Indian leader was kept in the cellar of the house for at time. His second wife, Margaret, bore him no children and died c. 1701. His estate was settled Nov. 5, 1691. (The preceding is from Ancestry.com)

The following text is an excerpt from the book by Stephen Innes, Creating the Commonwealth. New York: Norton, 1995. pp. 263-268.

The Puritan Ironworks

The same pattern of reformation describes the fortunes of New England's premier ironworking family: the Leonards. During the seventeenth century, the Leonards were known for two things, ironworking and troublemaking. More than any other ironworking family, the Leonards illustrate the gulf between the culture of discipline and the culture of the hearth. The Leonard s may have been recruited from kinsman Richard Lennard's furnace in Brede, Sussex (in the Weald). Soon after their arrival at Hammersmith during the mid-1640s, the family-in fact an extended clan-established a reputation as the leading group of ironworkers in New England. "Where you find iron-works," ran a local saying, "there you will find a Leonard."