LEIGH, Nicholas (1494/95-1581), of Addington, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1494/95, 1st s. of John Leigh of Addington by Isabel, da. of John Harvey of Thurleigh, Beds. m. by 1514, Anne, da. of Sir Richard Carew of Beddington, Surr. 1s. d.v.p. 7da. suc. fa. 24 Apr. 1503.1

Offices Held

Sewer of the chamber by 1516, jt. (with William Hatcliffe) receiver, manor of Lee, Kent 22 Feb. 1516; j.p. Surr. 1538-d.; esquire of the body 1547; commr. musters, Surr. 1546, goods of churches and fraternities, Surr. and Southwark 1552, 1553; other commissions 1541-64.2


The Leigh family had held property in Addington since 1371, and in 1446 Nicholas Leigh’s grandfather bought the manor. Leigh’s inheritance also included, after life-interests given to his mother and aunt, lands in Addington, Headley and Leatherhead. Some eight years old at his father’s death, he probably became the ward of Sir Richard Carew, whose eldest daughter he had married by 1514 and who was named with him in the special livery of his lands on his coming of age two years later. In 1516 also he was appointed to a joint receivership with his mother’s third husband William Hatcliffe and was described in the grant as ‘a sewer of meat in our chamber’, showing that he had early gone to court like his brother-in-law Sir Nicholas Carew. He was to attend Henry VIII’s funeral as an esquire of the body and his name also appears in the coronation accounts of Elizabeth, although in what capacity is not stated.3

Leigh clearly owed his return for Bletchingley to the Parliament of 1529 to his brother-in-law Carew, then lord of Bletchingley manor; his fellow-Member John St. John was another brother-in-law of Carew, himself one of the knights of the shire in this Parliament. The appearance of their names in conjunction makes it almost certain that the Members for Bletchingley were the ‘Mr. Lee’ and ‘Mr. Saynt John’ who figure on a list drawn up by Cromwell on the back of a letter dated December 1534; those named, who also include Carew, are thought to be Members connected, perhaps as a committee, with the treasons bill then on its passage through the House. It is likely that Leigh sat again for Bletchingley in the Parliament of 1536, in accordance with the King’s general request for the re-election of the previous Members, but as the returns for Bletchingley to the next Parliament, that of 1539, have been lost it is not possible to say whether he was returned at that election, which came immediately after Carew’s conviction for treason. Leigh’s standing in the county and his acquaintance at court were reflected at the outbreak of the northern rebellion in 1536, when he was one of two Surrey gentlemen appointed ‘to keep good order in the absence of the other noblemen’. Two years later he began the membership of the commission of the peace which was to last until his death: in 1564 his bishop described him as an ‘indifferent minister of justice’. He may also have seen military service, for in 1546 his name appears in a list of ‘captains first appointed to have gone with others since appointed’: it is not clear, however, whether he was the ‘Mr. Leigh’ whom it was proposed to reward in 1554 for his part in the suppression of Wyatt’s rebellion.4

Leigh took advantage of the Dissolution to consolidate his possessions in Addington. A 21-year lease of Addington parsonage, which he had obtained from Southwark priory in 1522-3, was renewed for a further 21 years by the court of augmentations in 1539-40. In 1544 he made his largest purchase when he paid £82 and exchanged Lee Farm, Headley, for the manor of Addington aliasTemple, formerly owned by Clerkenwell priory. He built a substantial new house for himself called Addington Place, and the annual value of his property, as calculated in his inquisition, was close on £48, whereas his inheritance had been reckoned as worth less than half that amount.5

In a will of 16 May 1580 Leigh provided for his five surviving daughters, including Malyn, widow of Thomas Boys. His only son had predeceased him and his heir was a grandson Oliph Leigh, whom he named executor. The overseers included his nephew Sir Francis Carew and Oliph Leigh’s father-in-law Sir Thomas Browne. Leigh died on so July 1581 and was buried, as he had requested, in Addington church where Sir Oliph Leigh later erected a monument recording the marriages and issue of his grandfather, father and himself.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. R. Johnson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m. and livery of lands, CIPM Hen. VII, ii. 684; LP Hen. VIII, ii. Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 13-14; Surr. Arch. Colls. vii. 85.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, ii, xiii, xiv, xvii, xx, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, p. 90; 1550-3, pp. 142, 395; 1553, p. 415; 1553-4, p. 24; 1560-3, p. 325; 1563-6, p. 39; HMC 7th Rep. 617; Guildford mus. LM 1074.
  • 3. Surr. Arch. Colls. vii. 77 seq.; VCH Surr. iv. 165; LP Hen. VIII, ii, xix; LC2/2, 4/3, p. 130.
  • 4. VCH Surr. iv. 257; Surr. Fines (Surr. Rec. Soc. xix), 198; LP Hen. VIII, vii. 1522 (ii) citing SP1/87, f. 106v; xi, xxi; HMC 7th Rep. 617; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 56; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 294; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 187.
  • 5. DKR, x. 232; LP Hen. VIII, xix; Surr. Arch. Colls. vii. 84-85; E315/212, f. 157; C142/197/61.
  • 6. Surr. Arch. Colls. vii. 85; Nairn and Pevsner, Surrey, 75.