Select Leadbetter Surname Genealogy

The surname Leadbetter derives from the Old English ledbetere or "lead beater,"  meaning a worker in lead. Early mentions of the name are a Walter Ledbeter recorded in the Assize Court Rolls of Northumberland in 1256 and a Roger Ledebeter assessed at Coverham Abbey in north Yorkshire in 1302.
Leadbetter and Ledbetter are the main spelling variants, Leadbetter in England and Ledbetter in America.  Ledbetter (or more commonly Lidbetter) is an old Sussex surname.  Leadbeater appears to be Huguenot in origin, from the Huguenot name Le Betre.

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England.  The Leadbetters were said to be an old Border family.  There were Leadbetters at Warden near Hexham in Northumberland from the 16th century and probably from an earlier time.  They were recorded as Catholics and non-jurors.  Their spelling was later Leadbitter.

Lancashire  Leadbetters in Lancashire are traced in Frank Leadbetter's 1992 book The Leadbetter Papers in his line back to Hamlet and Margaret Leadbetter in Elizabethan times.  Knowsley on Merseyside was the home of the Rev. Henry Leadbetter in the late 16th century and of the astronomer Charles Leadbetter in the 18th.  Later Leadbetters were recorded at Meols on the Wirral peninsula and as fishermen in Fleetwood.  The largest number of Leadbetters in England during the 19th and 20th centuries has been in Lancashire.

Sussex  Ledbetter (or more commonly Lidbetter) is an old Sussex surname, having been traced there back to the marriage of a Simon Ledbeter in 1405.  The name cropped up in the 18th century at North Stoke, Nuthurst, and Pulborough, and at Bramber where they were long-established and prosperous farmers.

Scotland.  The Leadbetter name was also to be found north of the border, particularly in and around Edinburgh.  John Leadbetter, born in these parts, made his name first as a linen merchant and then as a railway promoter in Glasgow during the first half of the 19th century.  Thomas Leadbetter was a noted local Edinburgh architect in the late 19th century.

America.  The American spelling has been both Leadbetter and Ledbetter but is now invariably Ledbetter. 

New England  A New England line (traced by J.E. Ames in his 1917 book Leadbetter Records) began with.Henry Leadbetter marrying in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1659.  A grandson, the curiously named Increase Leadbetter, moved to Vinalhaven, Maine a hundred or so years later and his family has remained in and around there. 

The Ledbetter spelling was apparently first brought to America by Thomas Ledbetter from Durham.  He arrived in Virginia around 1630.  This family generally stayed in what was called Prince George county before migrating to the Pamplin area in the early 1800's.  Captain George Ledbetter moved onto North Carolina after the Revolutionary War.

Ledbetters in the South  The Ledbetter name spread across the South.  Many are traced in Roy Ledbetter's 1964 book Ledbetters from Virginia:
  • Richard Ledbetter settled in Rutherford county, North Carolina in the 1770's.  A Revolutionary War veteran, he died in Georgia in 1841 at the grand old age of a hundred and three. 
  • Daniel Ledbetter, born in Georgia in 1825, moved onto Tennessee and North Carolina. 
  • two Ledbetter brothers, William and Thomas, left Tennessee for Arkansas in 1850. 
The storied blues singer Huddie Ledbetter probably inherited his surname as a slave.

.  Hamilton and Jane Ledbetter moved from Tennessee in 1840 and settled in Fayette county, Texas.  Their son Hamilton was a prominent lawyer there and the town of Ledbetter in Fayette county was named after him.

The Rev. Arthur Ledbetter, a Baptist minister, made the same journey in 1848, finally arriving in Dallas county after some tragic deaths in his family.

"The family had reached the east fork of the Trinity river and were within a few miles of their destination when several members of the family contracted smallpox.  His wife Elizabeth, two of their daughters, a brother-in-law, and a grand-daughter soon perished.  They were buried in unmarked graves on the banks of the river."

Arthur established four Baptist churches in Dallas county and the Ledbetters settled in Dallas.  Peahull Ledbetter was Commissioner of Dallas County from 1916 to 1933 and was responsible for building the first highway loop around Dallas.  Ledbetter Drive in Dallas was named after him.  

Select Leadbetter Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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Charles Leadbetter was an 18th century English writer on astronomy and mathematics.
Bud Ledbetter, born in Arkansas, was a gun-slinging lawman of the Old West.
Huddie Ledbetter, known as Leadbelly, was an iconic American blues and folk singer, known both for his songs and for his virtuosity on the 12 string guitar.
David Leadbetter from Sussex, widely regarded as the father of the modern golf swing, is coach to many of the world's leading golfers.

Select Leadbetters Today
  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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