The name Leonard in Ireland is said to have been derived from the native Gaelic O'Leannain sept (clan) of Counties Cork, Fermanagh and Galway. The name was first found in county Galway, where they held a family seat from ancient times. There were also Leonard families in counties Sligo and Offaly, among others, in Ireland. An intriguing, but perhaps apocryphal, story was uncovered by a Pat Leonard, who was said to have been born in the valley of Castlerock, at the foot of the Ox Mountains, in County Sligo, near the village of Aclare and the town of Tobercurry. Pat, who moved to Dublin in the 1940's, reportedly discovered that his family was descended from a Venetian sailor called Leonardo, whose ship Trinidad Vallencero had been press-ganged into King Phillip II's Armada and wrecked in Sligo Bay in 1588.
Similar stories have been told of seamen from the European and African continents finding themselves - usually involuntarily - coming ashore in Ireland in the 16th century, or even earlier. These stories are fascinating and make the research colorful, but unfortunately, there appears to be no evidence to connect such stories to my Leonards. LAWRENCE and MARY (_______) LEONARD were both born in Ireland around 1805, but we do not know from what county or region their families had originated. We have found a contemporary of LAWRENCE in Michael Leonard, who immigrated to Quebec, Canada in the summer of 1829 from Tipperary, Ireland with a wife and son John, age one. Daughter Ann Leonard was born Aug 19, 1929 onboard ship, but her mother died in childbirth. We have also found naturalization records for several other men in New England with the Leonard surname who were all born in Ireland in the first decade of the 19th century. There is little more than their generation, however, that offers us the potential for a link with the family of Lawrence Leonard.
We identified several households headed by a Leonard in 19th century Cheshire County, in southern Hew Hampshire. Records suggest that LAWRENCE LEONARD, his wife and daughter Mary may have been the first Irish-born Leonards in Cheshire County. Many Leonards had settled in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Unlike our LAWRENCE LEONARD, most of them appear to have had family in New England for generations.