I've recently joined the Leonard forum administration team. Many Leonards who have been tested already know me. I've been researching Leonard genealogy for the past 8 years and have a fair amount of information on my web site at www.bradsport.com
. The information includes the first five or more generations of the early Massachusetts Leonards: James of Taunton, his brother Henry of Braintree and later New Jersey, Solomon of Duxbury and Bridgewater, John of Springfield, and William of Bridgewater. It also includes some information and hypotheses about the origins of James and Henry.
Having looked through the records for Leonards living in the British Isles in the 1500's and 1600's, I'd speculate that the Leonards come from many different origins. When families were adopting surnames back in the 1200's, some took on the last name Leonard, perhaps after St. Leonard, patron saint of slaves, prisoners, horses, and more, or a place or parish named after St. Leonard. In any case, by the 1500's there were Leonards all over England, Wales, and Ireland. Beyond the British Isles, there were Leonards in France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, and elsewhere. So it is not surprising that we find Leonards in a number of different haplogroups.
Y-DNA may provide answers to some of the questions about Leonards that have been troubling genealogists for centuries. Were James, Solomon, and John, all of whom lived back in the mid-1600's in Massachusetts, related? Perhaps we'll find out. A number of James' descendants have now tested in the J2 haplogroup. There's a hint that Solomon's descendants are in the I haplogroup -- if a couple of more descendants step forward and are tested, we may be able to verify that. What of John's descendants? Perhaps we will find a direct descendant of Sampson Lennard whose haplogroup will confirm whether James and Henry descended from Sampson and the nobility or from "truculent and profane" French ironworkers imported to England in the 1500's to bring in the new and better iron-refining technology in support of King Henry VIII's military. And we may learn whether the mysterious William of Bridgewater was a descendant of Solomon or James (or neither).
We also have some strong Irish and German lines of Leonards to explore. So join in! There's sure to be a place for you and someone to discuss your genealogy with!