Henry Leaf

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameHenry Meredith•Leaf
Used nameHenry•Leaf
Born18 October 1862 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England (GBR)
Died23 April 1931 in Charing Cross, Greater London, England (GBR)
NOC Great Britain
Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 1
Bronze 1
Total 2


Whilst he regularly competed in the leading racquets and real tennis tournaments of the day, Henry Leaf was a good but not outstanding player. However, he competed in the racquets tournament at the 1908 London Olympics and was good enough to win two medals, a bronze in the doubles with Evan Noel and a silver in the singles when he was forced to withdraw from the final against Noel with an injured arm.

Leaf was educated at Marlborough and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he won a racquets Blue in 1883, winning the doubles with John Cobbold, who was a member of the famous Suffolk Brewing family. Leaf was Blue again in 1894 but was this time beaten in the doubles. Henry studied engineering and obtained his technical education at Cambridge and the University College, London. He became a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in 1889 and worked on major electric lighting and power contracts in Göteborg, Sweden; Le Mans in France and in the United Kingdom. In 1907 he wrote a revolutionary book entitled The Internal Wiring of Buildings.

When the Corps of Electrical Engineers was formed in 1897 Leaf was a founding member and served in the Boer War in South Africa. He also served with the R. N. D. Motor Transport Company in France during the Great War. He was wounded, awarded the D. S. O., and mentioned in despatches.

Leaf himself was a member of Queen’s Club and carried on playing racquets beyond his 60th birthday. He also played a large part in establishing the Tennis and Racquets Association in its early days. The Henry Leaf Cup was presented by him in 1922 and is goes to the winner of the Old Boys Schools Racquets Championship. Leaf was also a fine cricketer and captained the Free Foresters on many occasions.

Leaf was killed in an accident in 1931 when hit by a bus in Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square. Ironically, at the time of his death he was a member of the Auxiliary Bus Companies’ Association, a group of old colleagues who drove buses in France, and he was known to most drivers in London, including the one driving the bus that was to kill him.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1908 Summer Olympics Racquets GBR Henry Leaf
Singles, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
Doubles, Men (Olympic) Evan Noel 3 Bronze