The Origin of John Hall Leader

After a bit of searching, I found a copy of Burke's Irish Family Records, 1976, the most recent edition of what was earlier titled A Geneological and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland. This is the book specifically mentioned by Lt. Col. John Leader in his 1918 letter as containing the Leader family history.

The Leader family history in Burke's is rather involved. There were a lot of them, and the record, as presented by Burke's, has its fair share of marriage and murder between first cousins. I did find Colonel Leader's entry quite easily.

"John, of Keale, Millstreet, co Cork (sold), Col Bedfs and Herts Regt, served in S. African War, Boxer Rebellion 1901, Mil Attache Japan 1902, ret 1911, re-empd in World War I as CO R Irish Rifles (wounded), seconded to Oregon Cadets 1917, hon Col 1919, b 31 July 1876, educ Wellington, and RMC Sandhurst, m 25 March 1909, Eveline Maude (d 14 Sept 1972), only child of Lt-Col Hon John Pleydell-Bouverie, 17th Lancers, and d 8 March, 1967."

In his letter, Colonel Leader says that he thinks that his grandfather and William Leader's grandfather were brothers and that they share great grandfathers. William Leader was John Hall Leader's son. This does not hold up to scrutiny in Burke's. Colonel Leader's grandfather was John Leader, MD, of Keale. Dr. John Leader was of the right age to be an uncle to John Hall Leader, but he had no brother named John (very unlikely as that was his name). He had a brother named Benjamin who inherited their father's estate at Stake Hill and doesn't appear to have emigrated. Dr. John Leader, the elder brother, inherited Keale from his first cousin, yet another John Leader, who died without progeny in 1839.

Burke's starts its Leader lineage with a "Henry Leader, styled of Gurtigeen, Cork; thought to be the son of John Leader, of Kinsale, co. Cork." Henry Leader had two sons, Henry and John, whose marriages in the 17th century are the first actual dates in Burke's lineage. John Leader of Kinsale may be the "Cromwell soldier" mentioned as the family's founder in some of the notes written by family members over the years. Henry and John founded the two branches of the Leader family. Henry, John, and William are three names that occur frequently among their descendants.

I have not been able to find John Hall Leader in Burke's. Nor can I find any mention of a Leader marrying a Hall--or a Cleburne for that matter. But it is likely that John Hall Leader was a descendant of this family. The connections, both by name and place, are too strong for it to be otherwise. Not every Leader thrived. For example, a John Leader sold the principal Leader estate, Mount Leader, to his cousin, William Leader, during the latter part of the 18th century. Burke's lists no other information about that John Leader. Significantly, although no marriage or children are listed, Burke's does not state that John Leader died unmarried or without children--which are common notes for other Leaders. We could be descended from this John Leader, or from others who are barely mentioned in Burke's.

It is almost certain that most, if not all, of the Leaders mentioned in Burke's were Protestants. This is to be expected in a family founded by a "Cromwell soldier," but additional evidence is supplied by several married clergy in the family. Yet, it is almost certain that John Hall Leader was born both poor and Catholic. The key evidence here was supplied by Clara Hillman Houlihan. She recalled that he was educated at "Christian Brothers College."

Edmund Rice, a merchant in Waterford, Ireland, was moved to pity by the plight of poor Catholic boys in his city and opened his first school dedicated to educating them in 1802. At that time it was illegal for anyone to educate Catholics in Ireland. Rice's school thrived and attracted others who wished to help him in this work. This became the nucleus of the Christian Brothers , now an international order dedicated to Catholic education. Edmund Rice has been Beatified and is now Blessed Edmund Rice.

The first Christian Brothers school in Cork was founded in 1811. There is currently a Christian Brothers College in Cork, but it has been called that only since 1888 and traces it's origin to a school founded by another order in 1844. The modern Christian Brothers College is a secondary school. We would call it a high school or a prep school.

The original mission of the Christian Brothers, in 1802, was to educate poor Catholic boys who would otherwise have remained uneducated. It is not likely that by the 1830s and 1840s they would have strayed far from that original mission. Therefore, it is likely that John Hall Leader received a primary, and maybe a secondary, education from the Christian Brothers because he was both poor and Catholic.

The Leaders listed in Burke's didn't attend schools run by the Christian Brothers. Where education is mentioned, it was at schools such as Wellington, Sandhurst, Trinity, Cambridge, or Heidelberg. At best, John Hall Leader was a poor cousin--not to the manor born.

Please e-mail me with any additions, corrections, and comments

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This page last modified on Saturday, November 17, 2007

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Donoghues of County Kerry

The Origin of John Hall Leader

Millstreet in 1844

Young Ireland

John Hall Leader Obituary

Honora Donoghue Leader Obituary

William J. Leader Biography

Colonel John Leader's Letter

From Colonel Leader to Patrick Cleburne

St. Michael's Cemetary

A Leader Trip