Leigh, William (DNB00)

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LEIGH, WILLIAM (1550–1639), divine, was born in Lancashire in 1550, entered Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1571, and was elected fellow in 1573. He graduated B.A. on 10 Dec. 1574, M.A. on 29 Jan. 1577–8, and B.D. on 4 July 1586. He took holy orders, and was popular as a preacher. On 24 July 1584 he asked the university for a license, to enable him to preach at St. Paul's Cross. In 1586 he was presented by Bishop Chadderton to the rectory of Standish, near Wigan, Lancashire, which he held till his death. He was made a justice of the peace, led an active public life, and ‘was held in great esteem for his learning and godliness’ (Wood). He was chaplain to Henry, earl of Derby (Derby Household Books). After the accession of James I he preached at the court, and the king appointed him tutor to his eldest son, Prince Henry, over whom Leigh had great influence. In June 1608 Lord-chancellor Egerton made him master of Ewelme Hospital, Oxfordshire. At Standish he continued the restoration of the church, which was begun by his predecessor. The oak pulpit was given by him in 1616. He died on 26 Nov. 1639, aged 89, and was buried in the chancel of Standish Church, where there is a brass, with Latin inscription, to his memory. He married Mary, daughter of John Wrightington of Wrightington, Lancashire, and left issue. His will is quoted in the ‘Derby Household Books’ published by the Chetham Society.

Leigh wrote the following: 1. ‘The Souls Solace against Sorrow,’ a funeral sermon on Katharine Brettargh [q. v.], published with another sermon by William Harrison of Huyton, 1602, 1605; 5th edit. 1617, 8vo. 2. ‘The Christians Watch … preached at Prestbury Church in Cheshire at the funerals of … Thomas Leigh of Adlington,’ 1605, 8vo. 3. ‘Great Britaines Great Deliverance from the great danger of Popish Powder,’ 1606, 4to, dedicated to Prince Henry (a second edition of this piece is appended to No. 4). 4. ‘The First Step towards Heaven, or Anna the Prophetesse her holy Haunt, to the Temple of God,’ 1609, 8vo (Brit. Mus.) 5. ‘The Dreadfull Day, dolorous to the wicked, but glorious to all such as looke and long after Christ his second coming,’ 1610, 8vo. 6. ‘Queen Elizabeth paraleld in her Princely Vertues with David, Josua, and Hezekia,’ 1612, 8vo. 7. ‘The Drumme of Devotion, striking out an Allarum to Prayer,’ &c., 1613, 8vo. 8. ‘Strange News of a Prodigious Monster borne in Adlington in the Parish of Standish …,’ 1613, 4to.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 642; Clark's Reg. Univ. of Oxford (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), i. 131, ii. 27, iii. 43; Derby Household Books, ed. Raines (Chetham Soc.), xxxi. 117; Archbishop of York's Visitation (Chetham Soc. Miscellanies, vol. v.); Dugdale's Visitation of Lanc. (Chetham Soc.), p. 183; Nich. Assheton's Journal (Chetham Soc.), p. 57; Notitia Cestr. (Chetham Soc.) ii. 393; Bridgeman's Wigan (under ‘Lee’); C. Leigh's Nat. Hist. of Lanc. pt. ii. p. 14; Fishwick's Lancashire Library; Arber's Stationers' Reg. iii. 197; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Early English Books, ii. 774, 940; Copies of Leigh's Books in the Chetham and Free Libraries at Manchester.]

C. W. S.