LEIGHTON, William, of Plaish Hall, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
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Family and Education

1st s. of William Leighton (d.1607) of Plaish by Isabella, da. of Thomas Onslow of London. educ. Shrewsbury 1577; I. Temple 1580. m. Winifred, da. of Simon Harcourt, 1s. 2da. Kntd. 1603.

Offices Held

Gent. pens. 1602-1606/9.


This Member’s father, a Welsh judge seated not far from Much Wenlock, and a member of the council in the marches of Wales, was presumably responsible for his return to Parliament in 1601, though the matter is not clear, especially as he obviously lacked confidence in his son, dividing his property between the Member’s half-brother and his infant son. Only after giving ‘good and sufficient sureties’ was Leighton to be allowed the use of the latter’s share until the boy came of age. Perhaps this was because Leighton was a follower of the Earl of Essex, with whom he was corresponding in 1600.

His knighthood was probably due to his poem Virtue Triumphant, a eulogy of James I, heavily weighted with allusions to classical authors and the Bible. In 1608, only a year after his father’s death, Leighton was being sued for debt by Sir William Harmon, and in 1610 he was outlawed and imprisoned. He was probably still in prison when his second work, The Tears or Lamentations of a Sorrowful Soul, appeared in 1613. Some of these poems he set to ‘sweet musical airs’ during the next year. He deplores his ‘vain, corrupt and evil deeds’, and asks God’s protection from ‘the perilous pranks of sin’. The date of his death is unknown.

Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 323-4; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), ii. 320; PCC 51 Windebanck; W. Leighton, Virtue Triumphand (1603); W. R. Williams, Welsh Judges, 89-90; HMC Hatfield, x. 314, 349; CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 445, 590; W. Leighton, The Tears or Lamentations of a Sorrowful Soul (1613).

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.J.C.