Leech, John (fl.1623) (DNB00)

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LEECH or LETTCH ('Leochæus'), JOHN (fl. 1623), epigrammatist, an elder brother of David Leech [q. v.] the poet, was probably also related to John Leech [q. v.] the schoolmaster, and although he describes himself as 'Scotus,' was doubtless connected with the Leech family of Carden in Cheshire (Harl. MS. 2119; cf. Ormerod, History of Cheshire, 1882, ii. 701). He describes in one of his epigrams the difficulties which beset him as a student of philosophy at Aberdeen in 1614, in which year ne graduated M.A. at that university (Fasti Aberdonenses, p. 604), and it appears from another, concluding 'Charior est annuo Scotia fusca, meo,' that he was in France in 1620, after which it is probable that he resided for some time in dependence upon the patronage of the Scottish nobility resident at the court of James I; but nothing further seems known definitely of his career. It is possible, however, as Hunter suggests, that he is identical with the Mr. Leech described in the list of subscribers to Minsheu's Spanish Dictionary 'as secretary to the Earl of Pembroke, lord chamberlain. If so, he is doubtless the 'Mr. Leech' who in 1621 'was going over to view the country (of Virginia) and to pitch upon a proper place of settlement for the famous and munificent William, earl of Pembroke; who had undertaken, with his associates, to plant thirty thousand acres of land, and consequently to transport six hundred persons' (Stith, Hist. of Virginia, 1747, p. 193).

Leech published: 1. ‘Jani sperantis Strena, Calendis Jan. anno Dom. 1617, authore Joanne Leochæo Celurcano Scoto,’ Edinburgh, 1617; a curious composition in Latin hexameters, dedicated to Sir Thomas Hope [q. v.], ‘in supremo Scotorum senatu patronus,’ and consisting chiefly of a number of elaborate puns upon his name (hence the title). 2. ‘Nemo, Calendis Maii,’ Edinburgh, 1617; dedicated to James I, a panegyric of the same elaborate character as the foregoing, containing some lines to the author by David Leochæus. 3. ‘Lachrymæ in Augustissimi Monarchæ Jacobi I, Magnæ Britanniæ, Franciæ, et Hiberniæ regis, recessu de patria sua in Anglorum fines, ex Tho. Finlason’ (king's printer), Edinburgh, 1617. 4. ‘J. Leochæi Scoti Musæ priores sive Poematum pars prior;’ dedicated to Charles, prince of Wales, and consisting of ‘Eroticon libri sex,’ dedicated to William Herbert, earl of Pembroke; ‘Idyllia sive Eclogæ,’ dedicated ‘Gulielmo Alexandro Menstræo equiti … Regis libellorum supplicum magistro;’ ‘Epigrammatum libri quatuor,’ dedicated to James Hay, first earl of Carlisle [q. v.], London, 1620, 8vo. The absence of printer's or bookseller's name from this volume suggests that it was issued privately. 5. ‘Joannis Leochæi Epigrammatum libri quatuor. Editio tertia, prioribus multo emendatior. London. ex Bernardus Alsopus,’ 1623, 4to. Also dedicated to James Hay. Wood is clearly in error in attributing this to Leech's namesake, the schoolmaster, as, apart from the fact that it is dedicated to Hay, and is full of reference to Scottish persons and affairs (cf. the epigram ‘In Edinum, vel Edinburghum urbem Scotiæ primariam’), it also contains several of the epigrams included in ‘Musæ Priores’ (Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 352). Some Latin verses by John Leech are prefixed to the ‘Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionarie’ of John Baret [q. v.]

To the epigrammatist is also dubiously assigned by the British Museum Catalogue, against the opinion of Anthony à Wood, ‘A Sermon preached before the Lords of Council in King Henry the seventh's Chappell on 23 Sept. 1607, at the Funerall of the most excellent and hopefull Princesse, the Lady Marie's Grace (on Job xvii. 14 and 2 Cor. v. 1). At the signe of the Bull Head, 1607,’ with an elegy in English. The author of this sermon was more probably a third John Leech, who also wrote ‘The Trayned Souldier; a Sermon before the Society of the Captaynes and Gentlemen that Exercise Armes in the Artillery Garden,’ London, 1619, 8vo (Bright, Catalogue).

‘The Relation of John Leech, who was carried twelve miles in the Ayre by two Furies, and also of his sad and lamentable Death,’ 1662, 4to (Brit. Mus. Cat. and Nassau, Cat. ii. 944), was by yet another ‘John Leech of Ravely, near Huntingdon.’

[Irving's Scotish Poets, ii. 300; Urquhart's Tracts, 1774, p. 124; Addit. MS. 24489 (Hunter's Chorus Vatum); Cat. of Heber's Collection of Early English Poetry, pt. vi.; Brydges's Restituta, iii. 472; Cat. of Early English Books, ii. 937; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 1332; Hazlitt's Handbook, p. 331; Leech's Works in Brit. Mus. Libr.]

T. S.