Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Leigh, Chandos

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LEIGH, CHANDOS, first Lord Leigh of the present creation (1791–1850), poet and author, was only son of James Henry Leigh (1765–1823), M.P., of Addlestrop, Gloucestershire, and subsequently of Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire, by his marriage with Julia, eldest daughter of Thomas Fiennes, tenth lord Saye and Sele. He was a descendant of Sir Thomas Leigh [q. v.], lord mayor of London in 1558, and his grandmother on his father's side was Lady Caroline, daughter of Henry Brydges, second duke of Chandos, and sister of James, third duke of Chandos. Leigh Hunt, his father, was privately educated by Isaac Hunt, father of Leigh Hunt, who was named after the elder Hunt's pupil. Chandos, born in London on 27 June 1791, was educated at Harrow School, where he was a schoolfellow of Byron. He subsequently kept several terms at Christ Churcn, Oxford, where he matriculated 8 June 1810, but left the university without a degree, and completed his education by foreign travel with Dr. Shuttleworth, afterwards bishop of Chichester, as his tutor. While a young man Leigh issued many volumes of verse, and was an associate of Sheridan, Fitzpatrick, Sir John Cam Hobhouse, Lord Byron, and other liberals of about his own age, who used to meet at Holland House. His interest in political and social questions was always keen, and he frequently corresponded on such topics with the leaders of the liberal party, including Lord Althorp, Sir James Mackintosh, and Sir Samuel Romilly. He was raised to the peerage by Lord Melbourne in May 1839, as Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh, but he took little part in the debates of the upper house, contenting himself with the discharge of his duties as an active resident magistrate in Warwickshire. He was also a trustee of Rugby School. He died 27 Sept. 1850 at Bonn on the Rhine, and was buried in the chancel of Stoneleigh Church, where there is a fine marble monument to his memory. Leigh married in June 1819 Margaret (d. 5 Feb. 1866), eldest daughter of the Rev. William Shippen Willes of Astrop House, Northamptonshire, grandson of Chief-justice John Willes [q. v.], by whom he had three sons and six daughters. The eldest son, William Henry, succeeded him as second baron.

Leigh's first publication was 'The Island of Love,' a poem, published in 1812; this was followed by 'Trifles Light as Air,' in 1813; 'Poesy, a Satire,' 1818 (anon.); 'Epistles to a Friend in Town, Golconda's Fate, and other Poems,' 1826; 2nd edit. with additional poems 1831. Other works in verse which he printed privately were 'The Spirit of the Age,' 1832 'Vasa,' and 'A Fragment.' His poems though never widely known, and reflecting the influence of Horace, Virgil, Pope, and Byron, were much prized by the scholarly few. He also issued privately in prose 'Fragments of Essays,' 1816, and published, under the sobriquet of 'A Gloucestershire County Gentleman,' about 1820, three tracts on subjects connected with agriculture. These tracts are mentioned in the 'Bibliotheca Parriana,' as 'the gift of the author [C. L.], an ingenious poet, an elegant scholar, and my much esteemed friend.' 'Tracts written in the years 1823 and 1828 by C. L., Esq.,' were privately printed at Warwick in 1832. About 1840 he printed, for private circulation only, a pamphlet on the corn law question, entitled 'A Word of Consolation,' in which he showed that the farmers and squires need not fear being ruined by the abolition of protection if they would improve their methods of agriculture.

[Burke's Peerage; Martin's Privately Printed Books; Halkett and Laing's Diet, of Anonymous Lit. pp. 1954, 2617; Gent. Mag. 1850, pt. ii. p. 656; personal information.]

E. W.