Recorded in various spellings including Leathard and Leathart, this is an English surname but of Flemish and French origins. It derives from the surname Leautaud or Liotarde, which may be an occupational name for a dress maker, but is more likely to originate from a patronymic of the first name "Leo", meaning the lion, plus the suffix "-ard" implying "son of Leo" or similar. In England the surname is strongly associated with the French Huguenot protestant refugees of the period between 1580 and 1750, however the surname is recorded heraldically in Riestaps "Armourial General" for the departments of Dauphine and Flandre in France and is much earlier. The modern dancers garment called a leotard, was named after Jacques Liotarde, a famous Victorian acrobat. In England the name development taken from early surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London and include: Jane Lethard christened at St. James church, Clerkenwell, on April 14th 1738, Eleanor Lethard who married John Sayor at St. Peters, Cornhill in 1786, Thomas and Rebecca Leathart, witnesses at St Pancras Old Church, on June 7th 1801, and Elizabeth Sophie Leathard, christened at St. Leonards church, Shoreditch on August 31st 1824. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of James Liotard. This was dated 1728, when he married Mary Mariodge at St. Dunstans in the East, Stepney, during the reign of King George II of england, 1727 - 1760. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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