Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Leonard Forge


Coincidentally, some 7th generation ancestors of my paternal great grandmother, Lorena Murch, were also named Leonard, but a different set of Leonards than my direct paternal ancestors from Dublin Ireland. They came here from Pontypool, Wales in the mid 1640's. James Leonard created the first iron forge in America, Raynham Forge (aka the Leonard Forge), in 1652 (ruins pictured above). It was the longest running iron forge in the USA, finally closing in 1872.

They were founding members of the town of Raynham Massachusetts. Their house is still standing, and is still occupied by Leonards to this day! It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

James became good friends with Indian chief Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag Tribe.


James son, Thomas, took over the forge when James died. Below is a signature of Thomas.

Thomas was instrumental in the Forge's success, and was much admired in the community. Below is a very flattering obituary, from 1713, along with a photo of his gravestone:

Thomas’ daughter Mary married into the local Tisdale family, who were ancestors of Celia Cook (descendant of Mayflower passenger Francis Cooke), who married into the Jameson family, all ancestors of Charles Murch.  Their daughter, Hannah Tisdale, born 1688, married into the local Hodges family.  However, some books researching the Taunton Leonards declare that Hannah's name was actually Mary (James Leonard, Ironworker of Taunton, Massachusetts, The First Six Generations of His Descendants, published by Lulu Enterprises, Inc., in 2011).

Wales-to-Taunton immigrants James Leonard and his father, Thomas were also descendants of the Plantagenet line.  Thomas' mother was Margaret Fiennes (pictured below), who was a 4th great granddaughter to John of Gaunt, son to Edward III:

1 comment:

  1. I'm related to James through my grandma. She was a Bogue but don't recognize any names in your Bogue surname article.