Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Leighton, Henry (d.1440)

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LEIGHTON, LICHTON, or LYCHTON, HENRY (d. 1440), bishop successively of Moray and Aberdeen, was the son of Henry and Jonet de Lichton, and belonged, it is said, to the Leightons of Usan, Forfarshire. Before 1414 he was parson of Duffus, Elginshire, and canon and chanter (precentor) of Elgin Cathedral. Leighton, now described as ‘legum doctor et baccalaureus in decretis,’ was elected bishop of Moray, and was consecrated 8 March 1414–15 at Valentia by Benedict XIII, being the third bishop of Moray in succession consecrated by the same pope. On the death of his predecessor Bishop John Innes [q. v.] the chapter had resolved that the new bishop should devote a third of his revenues to the restoration of the cathedral, which had been burned in 1390 by Alexander Stewart, the Wolf of Badenoch. While still bishop of Moray Leighton presented to the cathedral of Aberdeen two pairs of episcopal gloves and jewelled images of St. James and St. John. Translated to Aberdeen, probably in 1423, he soon displayed similar munificence there. Besides bestowing on his church many books and costly ornaments, recorded in its inventories, he was the builder of by far the greater part of the existing cathedral. The nave with its south aisle, fine porch, still finer west window (the ‘Seven Sisters’), and western towers, not the spires, were his work; and, plain as the cathedral is, its size and the admirable suitability of its style to the intractable granite of which it is composed fairly entitle him to a place among the great church-builders of Scotland. He made other additions to the episcopal residence, embellishing either the bishop's palace or its grounds. A more questionable transaction was the conversion of the revenues of St. Peter's Hospital to the maintenance of his table and the support of two chaplains of St. Peter in the cathedral; for this, however, he obtained the sanction of Pope Eugenius IV in 1435. He was employed on many diplomatic missions—to England (to arrange for the ransom of James I), to Rome, to France (to treat of the marriage of the infant Princess of Scotland with the dauphin), and in his old age he was appointed to mediate between the factions of Crichton, the chancellor, and the Livingstones. He died 14 Dec. 1440, and was buried in the north transept of his cathedral, where, though another's effigy has usurped his monument, his epitaph may still be read.

[Registrum Moraviense; Registrum Episcopatus Aberdonensis; Fordun; Leslie; Boece's Vitæ Episcop. Aberd.; Grub l.c.]

J. C.