Recorded in the spellings of Leach, Leech, Leitch, Leachman, Letch, Letcher or Litcher, this is an English surname. It was originally given either as a metonymic occupational name, or perhaps as a topographical name. Both origins are Olde English pre 7th century. The first is from the word 'laece' meaning 'a leech', and as such describing a doctor, one who applied 'leeches' for medical reasons. Secondly if topographical it derives from the word 'loecc, from an earlier word 'lacu' and meaning water. It therefore describes a person who lived by or worked on water. Early examples of the name recording taken from authentic surving church registers and charters include: Christopher Leach, christened at St. Giles, Cripplegate, London, on January 27th 1629, whilst on February 5th 1793, John Leitch married Katharine Hood at St. Leonards church, Shoreditch, London, and Mary Letcher marrried Joseph Chapman at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on December11th 1837. The musical composer James Leach (1762 - 1798), was a member of the King's Band and was known for his compositions for stringed instruments, whilst another notable namebearer was William Leighton Leitch (1804 - 1883). He was drawing master to Queen Victoria and the royal family for over twenty years. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Edmund le Leche. This was dated 1279, in the "Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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