Leatham, William Henry (DNB00)

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LEATHAM, WILLIAM HENRY (1816–1889), verse-writer and member of parliament, born at Wakefield on 6 July 1815, was second of nine children of William Leatham, banker, and author of 'Letters on the Currency' (London, 1840). A sister became the wife of the Right Hon. John Bright, another of Joseph Gurney Barclay, the banker. His family had long been quakers, and William Henry was educated at Bruce Grove, Tottenham, and under a classical tutor. At nineteen he entered his father's bank at Wakefield, and in the following year (1835) made a tour on the continent. His first published work was a volume of poems (1840), one of which, 'A Traveller's Thoughts, or Lines suggested by a Tour on the Continent in the Summer of 1835.' somewhat in the manner of 'Childe Harold.' re-appeared in 1841.

As early as 1832 Leatham assisted in the return of the first member — a liberal — for Wakefield. In July 1852 he contested the town in the liberal interest, and was defeated. At the general election of 1859, after a contest of unparalleled severity, he was returned by three votes, but was unseated on petition. Both Leatham and the defeated candidate were prosecuted for bribery, but a nolle prosequi was ultimately entered by the Government. In 1865 Leatham was returned or the town free of expense, and presented with a testimonial by 8,700 non-electors. He did not offer Jiimself for re-election in 1868, but in 1880 was returned for the South-west Riding of Yorkshire. He died suddenly at Carlton, near Pontefract, on 14 Nov. 1889, leaving six sons and one daughter.

He married in 1839 Priscilla, daughter of Samuel Gurney [q. v.] of Upton, Essex, and then settled at Sandal, near Wakefield, the subject of his poem, 'Sandal in the Olden Time.' A few years after their marriage Leatham and his wife formally joined the church of England, purchasing in 1851 Hemsworth Hall, now in the possession of their eldest son, Mr. Samuel Gurney Leatham.

Besides the work already mentioned Leatham published in verse: 1. 'The Victim, a Tale of the Lake of the Four Cantons.' 1841. 2. 'The Siege of Granada,' 1841. 3. 'Strafford, a Tragedy.' 1842. 4. 'Henry Clifford and Margaret Percy, a Ballad of Bolton Abbey.' 5. 'Emilia Monteiro, a Ballad of the Old Hall, Heath.' 1843. 6. 'The Widow and the Earl, a Tale of Sharlston Hall.' 7. 'Cromwell, a Drama in five Acts.' 1843. 8. 'The Batuecas.' 1844. 9. 'Montezuma,' 1845. 10. 'Life hath many Mysteries.' &c, 1847. 11. 'Selections from Lesser Poems.' 1855. A later volume of 'Selections' was published in 1879. Leatham also wrote in prose two volumes of 'Lectures' delivered at literary and mechanics' institutes, 1845 and 1849, and 'Tales of English Life and Miscellanies.' 2 vols. 1858. These and many of the poems were first issued in local journals.

[Wakefield Express, 16 Sept. 1889; Smith's Catalogue; information from Mr. S. Or. Leatham.]

C. F. S.