Solomon Leonard - was born about 1610 in or near Monmouthshire in the southwestern part of England. He was the earliest settler in this country by name of Leonard, and is the acknowledged ancestor of the Bridgewater Branch of the Leonard Family.
The family name was sometimes written Leonardson, Lennerson, or Lenner, but by the family themselves, always written Leonard. It was quite common at this period to distinguish the son from the father by adding “son” to the name. In some cases the additional syllable was permanently adopted.
He probably emigrated first to Leyden in Holland, probably with his father whose name was probably Samuel. They may have come to this country together; if so, the father must have died soon after. The history of Bridgewater states that 35 of the Leyden people with their families arrived at Plymouth Colony in 1629, and 60 more came in 1630.
He was engaged in the service of the Colony Company in Plymouth for a time, but became one of the early settlers of Duxbury MA. Duxbury seems to have been settled by the people of Plymouth, since seven of the twenty subscribers to the civil compact signed in the cabin of the Mayflower in November of 1620.
The exact date of Solomon Leonard’s settlement in Duxbury cannot be fixed. Some records indicate he was there when the town was incorporated in 1637. He had land at “Blue Fish” near the bay, in what is now the northerly part of the village of Duxbury.
Duxbury Court Records
One record states that Solomon Leonard was admitted freeman in 1643, but his name doesn’t appear in the printed list of those admitted from Duxbury that year. He was, however, listed among those “males that are able to beare armes from XVI yeares old to 60 yeares within the Towneshipp of Duxburrow 1643”.
- “Solomon Lenner” is promised lands on Duxburrow side in some convenient place, in part of lands due to him for service (dated 7 May 1638).
- “Solomon Lenner” is granted 25 acres of land on the east side of the lands granted to “Edmond Chaundor”, bounded at the upper end with a swamp (dated 4 Feb 1638/9).
- In the Deeds Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, 16 September 1645, “Solomon Lenner” of Duxborrow and Morris Truant exchanged houses, uplands and meadows. Solomon Leonard’s land had recently been purchased from Edward Bumpas. The land he exchanged with Mr. Truant was at “Blew ffish Riuer”. No record of conveyance of these lands have been found. (In the vast number of instances at this period and for fifty more years, deeds of purchase were never recorded.)
Along with the renowned George Soule, Miles Standish , John Alden (1622-1701), William Bradford (1533-1595) and others – fifty-four in all – Solomon Leonard became one of the original proprietors of Bridgewater MA and one of the earliest settlers there. Thus he is known as the Ancestor of the Bridgewater Leonards.
The grant of the plantation by the Court was not made until 1645, and the Indian title to the territory was made by deed of “the good old Massasoit,” dated 23 March 1649. The town was not incorporated as a distinct township until 1656. It contained at one time about 96 square miles of territory. Within its bounds were “the Four Bridgewaters”.
Once more before his death, Solomon Leonard’s name appears on the Colony Records of 4 March 1658/9. An Inquest was held regarding the body of “an English Man” which some Indians took up out of the River of Tetacutt, a little below Nemaskett. “Wee found noe blemish about the man that should in any way cause his death, but as we conceive was drowned accidentally.” Solomon Leonard was associated on the inquest with others of Bridgewater, nearly all of whom are found prominently connected with the early history of the town.
Soon after this period he acquired the respectful title of “Goodman Lennerson,” which he bore till he died.
Death & Burial
The date of Solomon Leonard’s death remains unknown, however before 1 May 1671, at Bridgewater. He was probably buried in the ancient graveyard at West Bridgewater. The History of Bridgewater, by Judge Mitchell states that he died in 1686. That error has been repeated by the eminent New England biographer Mr. Savage and many others. This seems very strange for the Court Records of Plymouth, the records of deeds there, and the Proprietor’s Records of Bridgewater, were quite well known, and any of these records would have shown that he must have died many years before 1686. Mitchell also stated in his history that Solomon Leonard’s estate was settled by his son Samuel and was the first settlement recorded in Plymouth Probate Court.
Marriage & Family
NOTE: Two major pilgrim families claim Sarah DISPUTED Chandler (1622-1675) as their matriarch.
My primary source states that there is no record of the surname of Leonard’s wife, nor the date of their marriage, or the births of their children, and claims only that her Christian name was MARY. Mr. Manning states they were undoubtedly married before 1640 and had a large family, most of the children probably born in Duxbury and several dying while young.
Based on some recent information sent to me by email (see Secondary References), I have decided to cite Leonard's wife as Sarah Chandler (1622-1675) (the daughter of Chilton and Isabella Chandler. They married about 1640 in Duxbury.
- John Leonard (1638-) - born about 1643; married first, Abigail Wood; married secondly, Deborah. Samuel styled himself “Planter” on a land document in the 1681.
- Samuel Leonard (1643-1720) - born about 1645. He married Sarah Chandler, the daughter of Roger Chandler.
- John Leonard (1644-1699) - born in Duxbury about 1647. He married first, Phebe Chandler, dtr. of Roger Chandler, one of the “three sisters” probably about the time he came of age. The tradition is that he was with the earliest settlers of Quinsigamond (Worcester).
- Jacob Leonard (1647-1718)
- Solomon Leonard (1652-) = born after 1650; married Mary.
- Mary Leonard (1654-1673) - born after 1650; married 21 December 1673, John Pollard.
- Isaac Leonard (1655-1717) - born about 1650; married Deliverance.