This interesting and unusual surname has two distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. In the first instance, Leather may have derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century male given name "Leodhere" from "hleothar", sound, melody. Though not recorded independently, this personal name forms the first element in such placenames as Leatherhead in Surrey; Letheringham in Suffolk and Letheringsett, Norfolk, recorded respectively as "Leodridan" in the Saxon Chartulary, dated 880, as "Letheringaham" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Letheringsete" in the 1254 Pipe Rolls of Norfolk. In his "Patronymica Britannica", Lower states that "One, Lethar was a bishop in the days of Ethelbert" (860 - 865). The surname may also have originated as a metonymic occupational name for a leatherworker or seller of leather goods, from the Middle English and Olde English "lether", leather. Although the surname itself does not appear until the early 16th Century (see below), the word "lether" was used in such occupational names as; "Leather-dyer" (London, 1373), and one John Lethercarver was noted in A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, Northamptonshire, dated 1404. The modern surname is now found chiefly in Lancashire and Yorkshire. On August 13th 1595 James, son of Henry Leather, was christened in Warrington, Lancashire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Lether, which was dated 1524, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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