William LEAPINGWELL (1806–1861)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 26, Grave L53½

William Leapingwell


Rests from his labors
And so shall rest
Till the last trumpet sound


He died June 18, 1861
Aged 54 years



There is another illegible inscription
lower down; but as there is only one
set of initials on the footstone and his
hwife and children are buried elsewhere,
it is likely to be a biblical text



Footstone reads:

W . L


William Leapingwell was born in Great Yeldham, Essex in 1806 and baptised there on 24 August, the son of the Revd George Leapingwell and his wife Mary Ann. At the time of the 1841 census he was a medical student, at home at Bedfords in Dunmow, Essex with his father George, who was the Vicar of High and Good Easter, his mother Mary Ann, and his younger sisters Caroline (c.30) and Clara (15), plus their two servants. William was awarded a doctorate in medicine by Edinburgh University.

On 24 July 1845 at Great Dunmow, Essex, William Leapingwell married Emma Foakes (born in Mountnessing Hall, Essex on 15 March 1810). They had three sons:

  • William Thomas George Leapingwell (born in Oxford in 1846, reg. second quarter)
  • Henry Arthur Leapingwell (born in Oxford in 1847, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Edward Jodrell Leapingwell (born at 5 St John Street, Oxford in 1849 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 19 June).

He and his wife had moved to Oxford by 4 October 1845, when he was listed in Jackson’s Oxford Journal as being on the Provisional Committee of the Cheltenham, Oxford, and London Junction Railway. He went into medical practice in Oxford with Charles Webb of 5 St John Street in St Mary Magdalen parish.

On 23 January 1847 Charles Webb inserted a notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal that he was assigning his whole medical practice to Leapingwell, and the latter, described as a surgeon of St John Street, was duly matriculated as a privileged person at the University of Oxford on 5 June 1847.

On 27 January 1849 Jackson’s Oxford Journal reported an accident that had befallen Leapingwell:

SERIOUS ACCIDENT TO MR. LEAPINGWELL, SURGEON.— We regret to state that a serious accident occurred to Mr. Leapingwell, on Sunday evening last. It appears that the unfortunate gentleman was returning, between eight and nine o’clock on that evening, from Stanton Harcourt, when, in consequence of its being exceedingly dark, his horse came unexpectedly against a gate, stumbled, and fell, throwing Mr. Leapingwell violently off, and falling upon him. The horse, after struggling for a length of time, regained his legs, and went away, leaving Mr. Leapingwell insensible on the ground. Two men, at some distance, observed the horse going along the road without a rider, and imagining that an accident had occurred, went in search, and at length discovered Mr. Leapingwell, and took him to Cumnor, from whence he was conveyed to Oxford, and placed under the care of Mr. Hester, when it was discovered that his collar bone was dislocated, three of his ribs broken, and that he was also much bruised. It is, however, satisfactory to be able to add that Mr. Leapingwell is going on favourably, and that, under the able advice of Mr. Hester, there is every reason to hope that in a short time he will be able to resume his practice.

5 St John Street

At the time of the 1851 census William Leapingwell (44), described as an M.D. Edinburgh in General Practice, was living at 5 St John Street (right) in St Mary Magdalen parish with his wife Emma (38) and their sons William (4), Henry (3), and Edward (1). They had three servants (a nurse, cook, and housemaid).

On 25 September 1858 an inquest on R. Hoare, a labourer of Cumnor, was held. Mrs Hoare said that her 37-year-old husband had been very ill and she got a parish order and went for Dr Leapingwell, who said that he had just reached home from Cumnor and could not go again, but prescribed for the case. Later another messenger begged him to come directly, and he left at 10pm and told the wife what to do. Leapingwell was exculpated from any blame, and “testimony was borne on all hands to his character for kindness to the poor patients”.

They were at the same address with their three sons at the time of the 1861 census, and William Leapingwell was still working as a doctor.

He died just two months after that census:

† William Leapingwell died at 5 St John Street at the age of 54 on 18 June 1861 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 25 June (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

His effects came to under £600.

By 1881 his widow Mrs Emma Leapingwell had moved to Cheadle in Staffordshire to live with her youngest son Edward. She died there on 9 April 1884 at the age of 74, and is not buried with her husband.

The children of William Leapingwell

All three of his sons became surgeons:

  • William Thomas George Leapingwell (born 1846) was admitted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons on 25 January 1870. He never married. At the time of the 1881 census he was the Resident Surgeon at the Eastern Dispensary in Whitechapel. In 1911 when he was 64 he was a retired surgeon living on his own at Blackwater, Yateley, Hampshire. He died in the Croydon district at the age of 83 near the beginning of 1929.
  • Henry Arthur Leapingwell, later known as Arthur Henry Leapingwell (born 1847) qualified as a surgeon at the University of Edinburgh, and spent census night of 1871 as House Surgeon at the London Hospital. In 1891 he was a surgeon on Guernsey and living as a lodger at Melbourne Villa, St Peter Port with his wife Susan and their sons Arthur (11), Louis (10), and Henry Byng Leapingwell (8). He served in Madras with the army, reaching the rank of Brigade Surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel on 1 March 1898. His son Henry served as a Captain in the First World War and was killed in Mesopotamia at the age of 33 in 1916. He himself died at Guernsey on 20 August 1936.
  • Edward Jodrell Leapingwell (born 1849) qualified as a surgeon at the University of Edinburgh, and in 1881 was aged 31 and practising in Cheadle, Staffordshire: he was living at Charles Street there, and his 71-year-old mother had come to live with him. In 1887 in Stockport, he married Florence Lilian Orme. In 1891 he and Florence were living at Butler’s Hill in Cheadle with their children Bernard (3) and Edith (nine months), and they employed a cook, nurse, and housemaid. They were still there in 1901 and 1911. Edward Jodrell Leapingwell died in the Ampthill district at the age of 80 in 1929.



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