Rodway was born in Torquay Devon, England, the thirteenth child of Henry Barron Rodway, a dentist and inventor of the Rodway life buoy, and his wife Elizabeth, née Allin. Leonard Rodway was educated in Birmingham and in the officers' training ship, Worcester, and obtained double first-class certificates. He served for three years as a midshipman in the merchant service, but decided to follow his father into dentistry. He obtained the licentiateship of the Royal College of Surgeons, London in 1878. He then migrated to Queensland Australia, where he married Louisa Phillips on 19 May 1879 and they soon settled in Hobart, Tasmania.
Rodway was registered under the first Tasmanian Dental Act 1884. He is mainly remembered for his interest in botany. In 1896 he was appointed honorary government botanist for Tasmania, and held this position for 36 years. His work in this connexion was largely done at week-ends and during his holidays.
From 1892 to 1928 he presented scientific papers, principally to the Royal Society of Tasmania to which he was elected in 1884, and published The Tasmanian Flora (Hobart, 1903), a standard reference for forty years, Some Wild Flowers of Tasmania (Hobart, 1910) and Tasmanian Bryophyta (Hobart, 1914-16).
Rodway was chairman of the Field Naturalists' Club, the national park board, and was on the fisheries and the technical schools and other boards. He acted as an advisory officer to the forestry department and was for some years lecturer in botany at the University of Tasmania. He also did valuable work for the museum and botanical gardens. Failing health caused his retirement in 1932. Rodway also compiled a complete description of the mosses and hepatics of Tasmania, and contributed numerous papers to the Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania. He died on 9 March 1936. Rodway married again to Olive Barnard, who survived him with four sons and a daughter of the first marriage. He was made C.M.G. in 1917. His botanical library was presented to the Royal Society of Tasmania by Mrs Rodway. His daughter, Florence Rodway, born at Hobart in 1881, became a successful and capable portrait painter. She is represented in the national galleries at Sydney and Hobart, and in the Commonwealth collection at Canberra.
- Serle, Percival (1949). "Rodway, Leonard". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Dictionary of Australian Biography R at gutenberg.net.au
- Ann Elias, 'Rodway, Leonard (1853 - 1936)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, MUP, 1988, pp 436-437. Retrieved 10 November 2009
Joseph Edmund Carne