LEMAN, Sir William, 2nd Bt. (1637-1701), of Northaw, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
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1690 - 1695

Family and Education

bap. 19 Dec. 1637, 1st s. of Sir William Leman, 1st Bt.†, of Northaw, Warboys, Hunts. and Cheapside, London.  educ. Trinity Coll., Camb. 1652.  m. 16 Aug. 1655, Mary (d. 1722), da. of Sir Lewis Mansel, 2nd Bt., of Margam, Glam., 3s. d.v.p. 7da.  suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 1667.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Herts. 1676–7; freeman, Hertford 1683.2


The Leman family fled from the Netherlands in the second half of the 16th century, but its fortune was made by Sir John Leman of Beccles, Suffolk, a wealthy trader who became lord mayor of London in 1616. He bought estates in Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and London, which he bequeathed in 1632 to his nephew, William snr., who that same year purchased Northaw, some seven miles outside Hertford. Leman discharged the debts of the borough, which he represented in the Rump Parliament. Although a member of the Council of State, he offered Charles II pecuniary assistance before the Restoration, and obtained a baronetcy in 1665, though evidently he never paid the customary fee since action by the crown to recover the debt was only halted in July 1686. In March 1688, Sir William, the 2nd baronet, was named as a deputy-lieutenant of Huntingdonshire, although this may indicate that he inherited his father’s moderate Puritanism. He first stood for Hertford in 1681, when he trailed badly in the poll, but was elected for the borough in 1690, being classed as a Whig in March by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†), an interesting ascription given his competition with the more zealous Sir William Cowper, 2nd Bt.*, and Sir Thomas Byde† for a seat in the Oxford Parliament. In December 1690 Carmarthen listed Leman as a probable supporter in the event of a Commons’ attack upon his ministerial position, and in April 1691 Robert Harley* also believed him to be a supporter of the Court. He failed to secure re-election in 1695 or 1698, although it is significant that on both occasions he challenged the Cowper interest and voted for the High Tory Ralph Freman II* in the county by-election of 1697. Leman died on 18 July 1701, and was buried in the family vault at Northaw parish church, to which he had ‘added a fair chapel’. In a pious preamble to his will, he bequeathed his soul ‘to the everliving God’, hoping ‘to enjoy the kingdom of heaven with my Lord Jesus Christ’, and, in continuance of a lifetime habit, left £10 to the poor of the parish. One of his daughters had married Sir George Hutchins*, and to each of his two unmarried daughters Leman left £2,000; but, having no surviving son, he named his grandson William as his heir, and on the death of the 3rd baronet the estates passed in tail to a cousin.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Mark Knights


  • 1. Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 413–15.
  • 2. Herts. RO, Hertford bor. recs. 25/91.
  • 3. The Gen. n.s. xxi. 2233; Chauncy, Herts. i. 522; ii. 386–7; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 855, 861; CSP Dom. 1687–8, p. 179; Herts. RO, Panshanger mss D/EP F81, f. 70, William* to Judith Cowper, 16 Oct. 1695; Herts. RO, Q/PE/1, f. 1 pollbk. 1697; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 297; PCC 462 Dyer.