LEAK, Francis (c.1542-1626), of Sutton Scarsdale, Derbys. and the Chantry House, Newark, Notts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1542, s. and h. of Sir Francis Leak of Sutton Scarsdale by Elizabeth, da. of William Paxton of Norf. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1555; L. Inn 1556. m. (1) Frances, da. of Robert Swift of Rotherham, 1s.; (2) Mary, da. of John Egioke of Egioke, Worcs., 1s. suc. fa. 1581. Kntd. by 13 Oct. 1601.1
J.p. Derbys. from c.1579, q. from c.1593, sheriff 1586, 1604, dep. lt. by Sept. 1603.2
The knight of the shire for Derbyshire in 1601 is styled ‘esquire’ in the election return, but Leak was entered as a knight in a list dated 13 Oct. 1601, only 13 days later. Leak had a son Francis, a little more than 20 at the time of the election, but it is less likely that it was he who was returned as the senior of the two knights of the shire than that there was confusion over the date of the father’s knighthood, or a simple mistake as to the father’s style. It is therefore assumed that it was the father who sat. Although he is not mentioned by name in the journals of the House in 1601, his position as knight of the shire entitled him to attend the main business committee (3 Nov.) and the monopolies committee (23 Nov.). He was one of the largest landowners in the Scarsdale hundred of Derbyshire. At the dissolution of the monasteries, his father had acquired extensive properties and built up a sizeable estate. Leak was a forceful landlord and even for his time he seems to have been particularly ruthless in his dealings in property and with his tenants. At one stage he had instituted so many proceedings against tenants, in the courts of Star Chamber, requests, Chancery and common pleas, that the Privy Council was persuaded to intervene to seek ‘a final and neighbourly end’ to the litigation.3
Neighbouring landlords and relatives too found Leak difficult. He quarrelled with his kinsmen, the Foljambes, with his cousin Henry Leak, with John Zouche of Codnor, to whom he lent money, and with the influential lord of Haddon, John Manners, whose increasing power in the county in the 1580s apparently excited Leak’s jealousy. At the musters held at Chesterfield in 1586, Leak openly defied Manners, declaring that he was ‘as good as he’. The 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, Manners’s relative and close friend, tried to reconcile the two men, but Manners was not easily mollified, and the quarrel continued for over a year.4
Leak seems to have become more temperate as his influence in Derbyshire increased. In the late 1590s he was more prominent in county administration, and in 1603 he achieved his particular ambition of parity with John Manners when he was appointed a deputy lieutenant. The old antagonists seem to have worked together in harmony. Despite an early dispute, Leak was also on friendly terms with the lord lieutenant, Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury.
Towards the end of his long life, Leak retired to Newark, where he was the centre of a contest between his second wife, Mary, and his son (by his first wife) Francis, concerning some of his property. This continued right up to his death in May 1626. He was buried at Newark. Francis succeeded to the estate. Knighted in March 1604, he was created a baronet in 1611, Baron Deincourt of Sutton in 1624 and Earl of Scarsdale in 1645.5
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Her. and Gen. vii. 495; C142/188/20; C. Brown, Annals Newark, 73; APC, xxxii. 284. The date suggested by Shaw, Knights, ii. 98 for Leak’s knighthood is almost certainly wrong, as Leak appears as j.p.q., esquire, in the following years.
- 2. Lodge, Illus. iii (2), p. 109.
- 3. C142/188/20; J. C. Cox, Notes on Derbys. Churches, i. 326-7; ii. 281; iv. 212; D’Ewes, 624, 649; APC, xxi. 122-3, 264; xxii. 43-44; Req. 2/83/59; 14/160; 77/78.
- 4. APC, xiv. 115, 156-8; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 266; HMC Rutland, i. 182, 184, 222; C2 Eliz. Z1/1.
- 5. Lodge, 109, 111, 116, 126, 166-8; HMC Hatfield, iv. 420; C. Brown, Hist. Newark, i. 203, 309; CSP Dom. 1623-5, pp. 339, 344; 1625-6, p. 168.