I'm researching an English merchant / Iron Master / Alchemist named Richard Leader (1610-1661), who set up the Hammersmith blast furnace north of Boston (1645) as well as the Great Works sawmill in Berwick, Maine (1651).
Was Leader an English trade name like Weaver, Fletcher, Thatcher, Tanner and the like? Did it describe the family trade -- the smelting, working or perhaps the mining of lead? I wonder if earlier generations of Leaders weren't involved in the lead business. (According to one source, E.N. Hartley's book IRONWORKS ON THE SAUGUS, Richard Leader's father David came from Speldherst, Kent. Is Kent a lead mining district?)
Indeed, the oldest definition of "Leader" in the OED is "Plumber", ("ca 1440; Leedare or plummare") which is to say, a person who works with lead.
I have a question about the pronunciation as well.I've been pronouncing the name "Leeder" -- as in 'follow the leader.'However, in the 17th Century it may have been pronounced "Led-er" as in 'read the letter.' That it was is suggested by many of Richard's surviving documents, where the scribe, particularly if he was not familar with Richard -- and the 'metallic' spelling of his name -- writes the name phonetically as "Ledder" -- as he perhaps heard it.