LEACH, Sir Simon (c.1652-1708), of Cadleigh, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1652. o.s. of Simon Leach of Cadleigh by Bridget, da. of Sir Bevil Granville of Stowe, Cornw. m. 18 June 1673, Mary, da. of Thomas Clifford, 1st Baron Clifford of Chudleigh, s.p. suc. fa. 1660; KB 23 Apr. 1661.1
Commr. for assessment, Devon 1677-80, 1689-90, j.p. 1678-89, 1703-d., dep. lt. May 1688-9, 1703-d.
Capt. indep. tp. 1685, Earl of Peterborough’s Horse 1687-Dec. 1688.
Leach’s great-grandfather and namesake, the son of a Crediton blacksmith, acquired Cadleigh about 1600 and was the first of the family to rise to prominence in Devon. Leach’s father was too young to take part in the Civil War, but he married into a leading royalist family, and was arrested in January 1660 for his involvement in royalist disturbances at Exeter. He died a few months later, and Leach was one of several children given the order of the Bath at the coronation of Charles II. He owed his marriage not so much to his fortune as to his piety, and to fitting the ‘humour’ of his father-in-law, the fallen lord treasurer.2
Okehampton lies on the opposite side of Dartmoor from Leach’s home, and he had no known connexion with the borough. His return in 1685 must be attributed to his uncle, the Earl of Bath, who was the principal government election manager in the west country. Leach was totally inactive in James II’s Parliament, but he raised a troop of horse against the Duke of Monmouth, and was paid £500 ‘bounty’ out of the secret service money. He was given a regular commission in the Earl of Peterborough’s regiment in 1687. In April 1688 the King’s agents reported that Leach ‘hath the greatest interest’ in Okehampton and that if he ‘be a right man and will engage his interest for Mr [Josias] Calmady [II], this election will be safe’. Although he followed the lead of Sir Edward Seymour in refusing to assent to the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws until they had been debated in Parliament, he was included in the new list of deputy lieutenants, no doubt through the influence of his wife’s family. In September James’s agents still anticipated Leach’s election ‘and that he will have an influence for the election of another fit man’. His commanding officer considered that he had a better chance than William Barlow, and Sunderland ordered him to stand.3
Leach was under suspicion after the Revolution, and when his brother-in-law, the 2nd Lord Clifford, was arrested in Exeter in 1692 it was announced that Leach himself was ‘taken in the west’. He was not active again politically until after the death of William III, when he regained his seat and was restored to the commission of the peace and the lieutenancy. He was buried at Cadleigh on 30 June 1708, but he had sold the estate before his death, and no other member of the family sat in Parliament.4