Leech, John (1565-1650?) (DNB00)

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LEECH or LEACHE, JOHN (1565–1650?), schoolmaster, son of John Leache of the old Cheshire family of that name (see Harl. MS. 4084), matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford, 29 Nov. 1582, aged seventeen, and was elected a fellow, while still an undergraduate, in 1584. His father was probably the John Leache from whom a curious begging letter to Sir Robert Throgmorton is preserved among the Lansdowne MSS. (No. 99). In this ne sets forth that though he had been 'Scholemaister unto all the Duke of Northumberlands childre, and also unto th' Earle of Essexe . . . my Lorde of Leicestre and my Lorde of Warwicke,' 'hard necessitie' drove him to address himself to the 'crebrous phame ' of his correspondent. 'By the rude hand of your servant, if it shall please you, J. Leache, alias ποθων,' n.d. John Leech the younger graduated B.A. 13 June 1586, and M.A. 4 Nov. 1589. It is highly probable that he is identical with the vicar of Walden mentioned by Strype (Life of Sir Thomas Smith, p. 6), who combined the occupations of his cure with the ushership of Walden school He was certainly a school-master, and according to Wood took great delight in that employment, and educated many generous youths and others.' We are told by the same authority that his labours were greatly encouraged by Robert Johnson [q. v.], archdeacon of Leicester and founder of several schools in the eastern midlands. To Johnson Leech directed one of the Latin epistles in his 'Grammar Questions.'

In 1628 was published what Wood thinks was the second edition of Leech's 'Book of Grammar Questions,' dedicated to George Digby, son of the author's former pupil, Sir John Digby, afterwards first earl of Bristol [q. v.] The first edition must have appeared before 1622, as in that year John Brinsley [q. v.], in the valuable catalogue raisonné of existing grammars, appended to his 'Consolation for our Grammar Schooles,' says, 'For the chief rules of the Syntax shortly comprized … take Maister Leeches Dialogues' (p. 62). A fourth edition appeared in 1650 under the title ' A Booke of Grammar Questions for the help of Yong Scholars, to further them in the understanding of the Accidence and Lilies Verses, divided into three parts. Now the fourth time imprinted, corrected, and somewhat amended, set foorth for the ease of Schoolmasters and Young Scholars' (Brit. Mus. Library). To the volume is appended 'Four Little Dialogues or Colloqvies in Latine. Now verbally translated … but long since gathered … London, at the Black Spread Eagle in Duck-lane.' These 'Dialogues,' between 'Georgius' and 'Edvardus,' are noticed by Wood under the title 'Praxis totius Latinæ Syntaxeos in quatuor Dialogis comprehensa,' 1629, 8vo, and the English text of them is included in the 'Dux Grammaticus' set forth by John Clarke of Lincoln in February 1633 under the title 'Second Praxis Dialogicall of the Latin Syntax.' Leech the schoolmaster has been confused with other Leeches of the same christian name [see Leech or Leitch, John, fl. 1623].

[Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, ii. 352; Reg. Univ. Oxf. (Ox£ Hist. Soc.), i. 230, ii. 123, iii. 135; Ellis's Letters of Eminent Lit. Men, p. 75; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Hazlitt's Collections and Notes, 1876, p. 253; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. S.