LEADER, William (1767-1828), of 14 Queen Square, Westminster, Mdx. and Lower House, Putney Hill, Surr.
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Family and Educationb. 8 Nov. 1767,1 o.s. of William Leader, coachmaker to the prince of Wales,2 of 37 Liquor Pond Street, St. Andrew’s, Holborn and 32 Bedford Row, Mdx. and w. Mary.3 (His sis. Mary Rose m. John Maberly*.) educ. Eton 1779-81. m. 1 Mar. 1792, Mary née Bond (d. 7 May 1838, aged 72),4 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. suc. fa. 1798. d. 13 Jan. 1828.
Leader, like his father, prospered handsomely in business. He was a partner with John Falconer Atlee and James Langdale in a malt distillery at Wandsworth and had a stake in the firm of Pellatt and Green, china, glass and earthenware dealers, of 16 St. Paul’s Churchyard.5 In February 1823 he was returned on a vacancy for Winchelsea by the 3rd earl of Darlington, under whose aegis he had sat during his previous membership of the House. As before, he aligned himself with opposition, generally acting with its radical fringe in conjunction with his brother-in-law John Maberly, though he was not the most dedicated of attenders. Like Maberly he never joined Brooks’s Club. He voted for large tax reductions, 28 Feb. 1823, and cast occasional further votes for economy and retrenchment throughout the session. He divided for repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., parliamentary reform, 24 Apr., 2 June, mitigation of the penal code, 21 May, 25 June, and inquiries into the malt and beer taxes, 28 May, chancery delays, 5 June, and the coronation expenses, 9 June. He voted for investigations of the legal proceedings against the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., and the state of Ireland, 12 May, against the Irish tithes composition bill, 16, 19 June, and in support of Irish Catholics’ complaints against the administration of justice, 26 June 1823.
In 1824 he divided for repeal of the usury laws, 27 Feb., 8 Apr., as he did again, 8, 17 Feb. 1825. He voted to get rid of the window tax, 2 Mar., and to transfer the duty from beer to malt, 15 Mar. 1824. He divided against military flogging, 15 Mar., and naval impressment, 10 June, and opposed the aliens bill, 23 Mar., 12 Apr. He favoured Scottish judicial reform, 30 Mar., and allowing counsel for defendants in cases of felony to address the jury on the evidence, 6 Apr. He voted in condemnation of the trial of the missionary John Smith, 11 June. He supported an advance of capital to Ireland, 4 May, and reform of her church establishment, 6, 25, 27 May, but he divided with government for the Irish insurrection bill, 14 June. His son recalled that Leader never spoke in the House ‘except to present a petition from his constituents’: he produced one in support of the county courts bill, 14 Apr. 1824.6 He voted against the bill to suppress the Catholic Association, 15, 18, 21 Feb., for Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and for proposals to ameliorate the problems of Ireland, 13, 14 June 1825. He favoured repeal of the assessed taxes, 3 Mar., 17 May, and of the beer duties, 5 May. He voted for relaxation of the corn laws, 28 Apr., and action on chancery delays, 7 June, and was in small minorities for attempts to modify the combination bill, 27 June. He voted against the duke of Cumberland’s grant, 27 May, but supported it in the divisions of 2, 6, 7 June 1825. His only recorded votes in the 1826 session were for revision of the corn laws, 18 Apr., reform, 27 Apr., and inquiries into the state of the nation, 4 May, and curbs on press freedom in India, 9 May. He retired from Parliament at the dissolution.
Leader, whose elder son William was killed, at the age of 24, in a carriage accident in Oxford, 28 Feb. 1826, made a will on 2 Aug. of that year. He left his wife £1,000 and an annuity of £1,500. He had secured to his four daughters £10,000 each by their marriage settlements, and he now bequeathed an additional sum of £10,000 each to three of them, having provided the other with the same amount by bond. Various other legacies to relatives and his executors amounted to some £14,500. He left the residue of his personalty and all his real estate to his surviving son John, who was to receive £1,000 a year until he attained his majority.7 In September 1827 Leader fell ill with ‘a liver complaint’ and decided to make a fresh disposition of his property. He replaced John Maberly as an executor with his son William Leader Maberly*; added some new legacies and amended some existing ones; increased his son’s allowance to £1,500 a year, and made new provisions for the disposal of the residue in the event of his son’s death during his nonage. He planned to pay all his daughters’ legacies by bond and to invest on their behalf a sum of £30,000 due to him from Atlee. He approved the final draft of the new will early in January 1828, but wished to delay its execution until his solicitor returned to London. Yet the clerk, perceiving Leader’s worsening state, thought it prudent to have the instruments engrossed. On 11 Jan. Leader became ‘alarmingly ill’. He rallied the following day, but on 13 Jan. 1828, when he was ‘evidently sinking’, was advised by his doctor to complete his worldly business:
The will was brought to him; he attempted to sit up, but was unable; a pen was given to him, and he was lifted up in the bed, but at the very instant he was about to sign the paper, he expired.8
The will of 1826 was proved under £300,000 on 1 Feb. 1828, but this probate was revoked by interlocutory decree, 13 Jan. 1829, when judgment was given in favour of the second will and its annexed bonds as representing the clear intention of the deceased. It too was proved under £300,000 on 24 Mar. 1829. The personalty amounted to almost £200,000, in addition to real estate worth about £100,000.9 Leader’s son John Temple Leader (1810-1903) sat as a radical for Bridgwater, 1835-7, and Westminster, 1837-47, spent most of his subsequent life abroad and made a name for himself as a connoisseur of the fine arts.10