Lediard, Thomas (DNB00)

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LEDIARD, THOMAS (1685–1743), miscellaneous writer, was born in 1685. He tells us that he was attached at different times to the staff of the Duke of Marlborough, and especially in 1707, on the occasion of the duke's visit to Charles XII of Sweden; always, he says, 'in the character of a gentleman who travelled for his pleasure at his own expense, without having or desiring any reward or gratification for it in any shape or under any denomination whatsoever.' He was probably at the time an attaché to the embassy at Hamburg, and was lent to the duke as a foreign secretary. He was afterwards for many years 'secretary to his majesty's envoy extraordinary in Hamburg,' one of his duties being apparently to manage the opera there, in the pecuniary interests of his chief, Sir Cecil Wych (German Spy, p. 96; Britannia, title-page). He is also described on the title-page of Bailey's 'Dictionarium Britannicum as a 'professor of modern languages in Lower Germany.'

Lediard returned to England some time before 1732 (ib.) and settled in Smith Square, Westminster. During the next five or six years he brought out 'The Naval History of England in all its branches, from the Norman Conquest ... to the conclusion of 1734,' 2 vols. fol. 1735, a work which for its date is both comprehensive and accurate; 'The Life of John, Duke of Marlborough,' 3 vols. 8vo, 1736, 2nd edit. 2 vols. 8vo, 1743, in the preface to which he claims to write from personal knowledge of some of the transactions, and to have had access to many important letters and papers; and 'The History of the Reigns of William III and Mary, and Anne, in continuation of the History of England by Rapin de Thoyras,' vol. iii. fol. 1737. He also published translations of 'Life of Sethos,' by J. Terrasson, 8vo, 1732; 'A History of the Ancient Germans,' by Dr. J. J. Mascon, 2 vols. 4to, 1737; and of 'A Plan of Civil and Historical Architecture,' by J. B. Fischer, 2nd edit. fol. 1738. He assisted in 'the etymological part' of N. Bailey's [q. v.] 'Dictionarium Britannicum ... a Compleat Universal Etymological English Dictionary,' fol. 1736.

In February 1737-8 he wrote 'A Scheme, humbly offered to the Honourable the Commissioners for building a Bridge at Westminster, for opening convenient and advantageous Ways and Passages (on the Westminster side) to and from the said Bridge, if situated at or near Palace Yard; as likewise to and from the Parliament House and the Courts of Justice,' s. sh. fol. 1738. About this time, possibly to some extent in consequence of this letter, he was appointed 'Agent and Surveyor of Westminster Bridge.' It seems probable that he was the 'J.P. for Westminster' who was appointed in 1742 'Treasurer for Westminster Bridge' (Gent. Mag, xii. 275, where, however, the name is printed John), for on 13 July 1742 'the crown lands from Westminster Bridge to Charing Cross' were granted to him and Sir Joseph Ayloffe [q. v.], to hold 'in trust to the Commissioners appointed to build Westminster Bridge' (ib. xii. 385). On 9 Dec. 1742 Lediard was elected a F.R.S. Early in 1743 he resigned his appointment as 'Surveyor of the Bridge,' and died shortly afterwards, June 1743. He was succeeded in his office by his son Thomas (ib. xiii. 333), who was the author of 'A Charge delivered to the Grand Jury . . .' 8vo, 1754, and died at Hamburg on 15 Dec. 1759 (ib. xxx. 102; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. viii. 351).

Besides the works already named Lediard was the author of 'Grammatica Anglicana Critica, oder Versuch zu einer vollkommen Grammatic der englischen Sprache,' Hamburg, crown 8vo, 1726, with a portrait bearing the legend 'ætatis suæ xl. a.d. 1725,' and the arms of Lediard of Cirencester (Burke, General Armoury); 'Eine Collection verschiedener Vorstellungen in Illuminationen . . . 1724-8, unter der Direction und von der Invention Thomas Lediard's,' Hamburg, fol. 1730; and 'Britannia, an English Opera as it is performed at the New Theatre in the Haymarket,' London, 4to, 1732. He also edited, with introduction and notes, 'The German Spy, in familiar letters . . . written by a Gentleman on his Travels to his Friend in England,' London, crown 8vo, 1738.

[Authorities in the text; Baker's Biog. Dram. i. 447.]

J. K. L.