Wednesday, 21 October 2020

The Leigh Baronetcy


The LEIGH entry for arms at Ulster's (King of Arms) office, dated 1608, reads as follows:
CAPTAIN EDMUND LEIGH, Commander of the Army in County Tyrone: "azure, on a chevron, between three ducal coronets or, as many hurts, a crescent for difference."
County Tyrone was planted by nine English and seventeen Scottish undertakers, and five servitors, of whom:-

The undertakers for the barony of Clogher were:-

  • Sir Thomas Ridgeway: 2,000 acres at Portclare and Ballykerigire (in addition to his allocation as a servitor);
  • Francis Willoughby, son of Sir Perceval Willoughby: 2,000 acres at Fentonagh;
  • George Ridgeway (Sir Thomas's brother): 1,000 acres at Ballymackell.
Captain John Ridgeway possessed 1,000 acres near Lough Ramor, County Cavan.


Captain Edmund Leigh was appointed sheriff in 1607.

He was said to have been detested by the Earl of Tyrone, who called him 'that whispering companion' sent to spy on him.

A document drawn up by Sir Arthur Chichester on 25 January 1608 indicates that Lower Tyrone (an area which surrounded the town of Omagh, or Omey), was governed by Captain John Leigh. 

John Leigh and his brothers were  'adventurers' who funded the war effort and were entitled to lands in return.

The portion allocated to Francis Willoughby was either sold by him or confiscated, when he failed to comply with his undertakings.

This land was consequently taken over by John Leigh who, with his two brothers, Daniel and Captain Edmund, had built the English fort on the Strule at Omagh, where Edmond had been granted 330 acres, as warden of the fort.
John and Daniel were appointed wardens when he died.

The brothers had come to Ulster under the auspices of Henry Bagenal.

In 1611, disputes arose between Mr Clapham, Sir Thomas Boyde, Sir John Davyes, and Captain John Leigh, regarding land in County Tyrone.

The friary lands of Omagh, which were owned by the Leigh brothers, had been unwittingly allocated to undertakers.

The dispute was settled when John Leigh surrendered his church lands, and this so impressed the King, that he allowed Leigh to take the lands on his own terms.

In 1612-13, a survey of undertakers planted in county Tyrone, in 1609, reported as follows under the headings: 2,000 acres, Clogher, Undertakers.

Sir Daniel Leigh is mentioned in a Chancery Inquisition Juries Summoner's Roll, for Tyrone quarter Sessions in the reign of JAMES I, 1624/5.

In 1629-30, a listing of able-bodied men (capable of combat), which was called the Muster Roll, was compiled, and John Leigh gave seventeen names, less than most of the other undertakers.

Many of the names on this list were Irish, so Leigh was not in favour in London, on account of his tolerance for so many of the 'meere Irish' on his land.

It was recorded that Sir Daniel Leigh died in 1630, and that John Leigh, lord of the manor of Fintona, died in 1631, and his nephew, Sir Arthur Leigh, knight, son of Daniel, succeeded to the manor at Fintona, which was called Castle Leigh.

The summoner's roll for Tyrone assizes in 1636 records that 

"Arthur Leigh, Baronet, was fined £15 because at Assizes of 20 August, 11 Charles I, 1635, he was paid for building a bridge across the river at Omagh which he had not done".

In the civil survey of 1654-56, in the barony of Clogher and parish of Doncavie (which included Fintona), 

"lands amounting to 1,682 acres, (960 profitable, and 722 barren, bogg and mountaine); and 200 acres in the same parish, of church lands, are now in possession of the widow of Sir Daniel Leigh,an English Protestant, and her new husband, Alderman William Smith of Dublin. She is named as 'ye Lady Leigh' and 'Lady Ley', in the same document.

Another account declares:-

Petition to the King of Dame Mary Leigh [daughter of John Stanton], relict and administratrix of Sir Daniel Leigh, Kt. and Bart., showing that : — King James by letters of 26 October, 1609, granted to John Leigh and Daniel Leigh, afterwards Sir Daniel Leigh, the constableship of the fort of Omagh, with 20 warders, viz. : — 6 horsemen and 14 footmen. 
The constableship was given him in reward for his service in The Queen's Irish wars. The patent stated that Daniel or John should hold during pleasure, and the garrison was not to be diminished without his knowledge.

It has been so diminished that, by 1629, all the warders had been lost. 

Petitioner's husband never received a return of the money he spent in building the fort of Omagh, and had left her with heavy debts and an expensive family. 

The now Lord Deputy was anxious to help her; but, under the recent establishments, his hands were tied. She prays for relief from the Irish Treasury or Court of Wards.

The Leighs served as sheriffs of Tyrone as follows:-
  • Edmund, 1607
  • John, 1610 and 1614
  • and Sir Daniel Leigh, 1624.
The national archives state:-

"The Fort of the Omye: Here is a good fort, fairly walled with lime and stone, about 30 foot high above the ground with a parapet, the river on one side and a large deep ditch about the rest, within which is built a fair house of timber after the English manner.

Other buildings described. All begun by Captain Ormond [Edmund] Leigh and finished by his brothers John and Daniel Leigh at their own charges upon the lands of the Abbey of Omye, at which place are many families of English and Irish who have built them good dwelling-houses, which is a safety and comfort for passengers between Donganon and the Liffer.

The fort is a place of good import upon all occasions of service and fit to be maintained."

John Leigh was an engineer by profession, and came to Ulster with the Earl of Essex in 1572.

Before the time of the Plantation he had visited many localities in this province as an engineer, and knew many of its leading Irish inhabitants.

He appears to have bought the proportion of Fintona from Sir Francis Willoughby, even before the latter had taken out a patent, for the grant was made in Leigh's own name.

Leigh apparently had no particular taste for planting for, instead of bringing strangers on his lands, he leased them to the Irish, at the risk of being forfeited for thus doing. 

At his death, he was succeeded by his nephew, Sir Arthur Leigh, who sold the estate to Captain James Mervyn.

SIR ARTHUR LEIGH, 2nd Baronet, of Omagh and Fintona, County Tyrone, only son and heir of his father, Sir Daniel Leigh, 1st Baronet, succeeded to the baronetcy in 1633.

He wedded Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir William Ryves, one of the Justices of the King's Bench in Ireland.

Sir Arthur died without an heir, in 1638, in County Londonderry, when the baronetcy expired.

First published in May, 2011. 

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I am interested in the petition referred to about Dame Mary Leigh, where did this information come from, is there a source reference?