LEIGH, Rowland (d. by 17 June 1603), of Longborough, Glos.
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Family and Education
1st s. of Sir Thomas Leigh of Stoneleigh, Warws., ld. mayor and alderman of London, by Alice, da. of John Barker alias Coverdale of Wolverton, Salop. educ. Clare, Camb. 1561, BA 1562-3; L. Inn 1563. m. (1) Margery, da. of Thomas Lowe of London, 1da.; (2) bef. 1578, Catherine, da. of Sir Richard Berkeley of Stoke Gifford, 1s. suc. fa. Dec. 1571.1
The son of one lord mayor of London, Rowland Leigh owed his baptismal name and the bulk of his fortune to another, his mother’s uncle Sir Rowland Hill. On this lady’s marriage, about 1553, to Thomas Leigh, Sir Rowland Hill had entailed on her the greater part of his estate, which in 1571 passed to her son and heir. It included the manor of Longborough, Gloucestershire, and made Rowland Leigh a landowner in the Cotswolds as well as in Warwickshire, where his father had acquired the manor of Stoneleigh, including Milborne Grange which he had bought in 1565 of Anthony Throckmorton. After Sir Thomas’s death his widow seems to have lived at Stoneleigh (where the Earl of Leicester stayed briefly in August 1565 before going to the Netherlands), and it was there that she was to die in 1604, having outlived her son by a few months.2
Rowland Leigh settled in Gloucestershire. His first wife had been a Londoner, but his second, a Berkeley of Stoke Gifford, allied him both with that leading local family and through it also with the Hungerfords, the Throckmortons, and the Brydges. It was doubtless this last connexion which enabled Leigh to sit for Cricklade in 1584. His membership left no trace in the proceedings of that Parliament, for the ‘Mr. Lee’ who on 2 Dec. asked for leave of absence to discharge his office of sheriff was Edward Legh I.3
The obscurity which surrounds Rowland Leigh’s career suggests that he lived unobtrusively as a country gentleman. He is not to be confused with his namesake (and probable kinsman), the London merchant who corresponded from Rochelle with his brother Robert in 1597, was suspected of lunacy in 1601, and was taken into custody by Sir William Browne at Veere in 1609 for intemperate speech smacking of treason;4 nor with the ‘Mr. Leighs’ who was recommended in 1596 by his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Gerrard for the captaincy of the Isle of Man, and who probably served in Ireland between 1597 and 1600 as well as visiting the Isle of Wight to inspect its fortifications in 1599.5
Leigh’s only son William, who was born in 1585, was not quite of age at his father’s death, and the estate was surveyed for wardship. In Gloucestershire it comprised four manors with appurtenances, of which Longborough was assessed at nearly £70 a year clear and Bledington and Addlestrop together were reckoned at £58 clear. William Leigh also inherited Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, but this he sold in 1605 after his grandmother’s death. He was knighted by James I and was the ancestor of the present Baron Leigh of Stoneleigh, of the creation of 1839.6
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: S. T. Bindoff
- 1. DNB; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 81; (lxii), 10; C142/285/156; PCC 48 Holney.
- 2. Rudder, Glos. 532; Fosbrooke, Gloucester, ii. 333; VCH Warws. vi. 234, 236; DNB; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 262.
- 3. Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 9; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 81.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 550; HMC Hatfield, xi. 242; xiv. 178; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, iv. 127-8.
- 5. Lansd. 82, f. 26; APC, xxvii. 185, 186; HMC Hatfield, x. 75; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 259.
- 6. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xxxiv. 160; C142/285/156; Wards 28/49; VCH Warws. vi. 234.