GALE, Leonard (1673-1750), of Crabbett Park, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. 12 Nov. 1673, 1st s. of Leonard Gale, blacksmith and ironmaster, of Crawley, Suss. by his w., da. of one Johnson. educ. priv. tutor (Mr Boraston of Hever), University Coll. Oxf. 1691; I. Temple 1691, called 1697. m. 19 Aug. 1703 (with £7–8,000), his cos. Sarah Knight (d. 1746), 3s. d.v.p. 7da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1690.1
Gale came from humble origins. His grandfather and father had both been blacksmiths in Sevenoaks, Kent, the Sackvilles’ town, but his father had branched out into the manufacture of iron, acquiring a forge in Crawley, Sussex and eventually amassing a fortune of £16,000, which brought in an income of £500 p.a. With this, Leonard snr. set out to make a ‘gentleman’ of his son, who was educated first by a private tutor and then at Oxford and the Inner Temple. He was called to the bar, but ‘being very distrustful of my own abilities, and too great a lover of idleness and ease, I neglected the study of the law and devoted myself to the management of my property in the country’. In 1698 he bought the house and estate of Crabbett Park in Sussex for £9,000 and his marriage in 1703 to his cousin brought him a further £7–£8,000. By May 1707, when Charles Sergison* recommended Robert Harley* to include Gale in the Sussex commission of the peace, he was reckoned to be worth £700 or £800 p.a. In 1710 he voted for the Tory candidates in the Sussex election and was himself sufficiently well-established to be returned for East Grinstead without opposition. He quickly became disillusioned with politics, writing in his memoirs,
we have seen of late innumerable instances of the power of bribes and threats in the election of Members of Parliament. Men have deserted their old friends and neighbours to whom they have been obliged every day of their lives, and gone over to strangers they never saw or heard of, who came with money in their hands, and empty promises in their mouths, to the eternal scandal of the whole nation.
In Parliament Gale was at first classed as ‘doubtful’ in the ‘Hanover list’, but soon proved himself a loyal Tory, being listed with the ‘worthy patriots’ who in 1711 detected the mismanagements of the previous administration. Other activities are difficult to distinguish from those of Roger Gale, the Member for Northallerton. On 18 June 1713 Gale voted for the French commerce bill. He did not stand again, but continued to prosper and by 1724 was worth over £40,000. He died on 24 June 1750. As his three sons had predeceased him, his property went to his wife and surviving daughters.2