LEIGH (LYE), George (by 1530-78), of Shrewsbury, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. by 1530, 2nd s. of John Leigh of Ellesmere by Catherine, da. of one Dod of Petsey in Stoke-upon-Tern. m. Mary, da. of Thomas Sturry of Rossall, 4s. 1da.2
Burgess (common councilman), Shrewsbury 16 Sept. 1555, bailiff 1564-5, 1568-9, 1574-5, alderman 10 Mar. 1565; escheator, Salop 1571-2.3
George Leigh claimed descent from a gentle family which took its name from a village in Cheshire, but his father was a Shropshire yeoman. In March 1551, not long after his father’s death, Leigh was admitted as a merchant of the staple to the freedom of Shrewsbury, where he made his home in the castle ward. Two years later he joined the drapers’ company and on entry he was chosen as one of the six assistants to the master and wardens. This preferment doubtless conduced to his election to the Parliaments of March 1553 and November 1554, as his association with two other Members for the borough would have done: Reginald Corbet, with whom he alternated, lived near his mother’s family, and his precursor John Evans was perhaps already his relative by marriage. Leigh was one of the Members informed against in the King’s bench during Easter term 1555 for quitting the second of these Parliaments prematurely and without leave, but his was one of the three prosecutions withdrawn by the attorney-general. Why this was done is not recorded, but Edmund Plowden was to achieve the same result by establishing that he had been present when the House was called, and as Plowden and Leigh were related by marriage—Plowden’s mother being great-aunt to Leigh’s wife—the great lawyer may well have had a hand in Leigh’s exoneration. That this was on the same plea as Plowden’s is implied by Leigh’s receipt of wages for the whole of this Parliament. It was after his fourth spell in the House that he submitted a bill for £30 14s. for ‘five Parliaments’ (that is, for four Parliaments one of which had two sessions), this sum representing 263 days’ attendance and 40 days’ travelling at the standard rate of 2s., with a further 8s. for gratuities.4
Leigh’s relations with his fellow-townsmen were not always happy, and before his appointment as bailiff he complained about the corruption of those chosen. In 1564 he recommended himself as ‘meet’ to be named to the county bench, but despite his avowed Protestantism and a connexion with Archbishop Young the suggestion was not acted on, although he was occasionally consulted on county affairs and made escheator. His executorship of Archbishop Young’s will involved him in litigation with Young’s widow, which did not end with his death in 1578.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: P. S. Edwards
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 321, 448.
- 3. Shrewsbury Guildhall 486, ff. 15v, 78v.
- 4. Vis. Salop, 321; Shrewsbury Guildhall 66; 76, ff. 16, 72, 82; E179/162/22; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 4), ix. 276-7; KB27/1176, rex roll 17; 29/188, r. 48v; HMC 15th Rep. X, 15, 37.
- 5. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 44, 45.