Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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Family and Education

Offices Held


During 1512-13 Roger Elford, Plymouth’s attorney, was given 13s.4d. ‘for Legh his wages, the which was one of the burgesses of Parliament for the town’, and a year later Elford was reimbursed 3s.4d. for money ‘paid at London to him that was one of the burgesses of Parliament with Mr. Recorder [Robert Bowring]’. The second payment was presumably to the same Member as no by-election is recorded at Plymouth during the Parliament of 1512.2

The omission of a christian name for Legh on the first occasion and the apparent vagueness as to his name on the second suggests that he was a stranger to Plymouth. John Leigh of Addington in Surrey, the bailiff of the nearby manor of Plympton, had sat for Plympton Erle before his death in 1503. The patronage which had operated in John Leigh’s favour could well have helped one of his kin, in particular his son Nicholas Leigh, even though Nicholas was still an adolescent in 1512: Nicholas’s marriage or affiancement, if it had taken place by that date, into the Carews of Beddington, a family with Devon ties, strengthens the possibility that Nicholas was the Plymouth Member. Against this must be set the general lack of precision which is a feature of the town’s receivers’ account book and its preference to return residents or locally connected men. A number of gentle families bearing the Member’s surname can be traced in Devon and Cornwall, and one of these furnished William Legh who was escheator for the two counties for several months in 1504. This William Legh may have been the Member. More likely is the Walter Ligh assessed towards the subsidy at Plymouth on wages of 20s. in 1524-5. No other trace has been found of the townsman. If, unlike Robert Bowring, Legh survived into 1515 he may have been re-elected to the Parliament of that year in compliance with the King’s request for the return of the previous Members, and also to that of 1523 for which the Plymouth Members are unknown.3

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Plymouth receivers’ acct. bk. 1512-13.
  • 2. Ibid. 1512-13, 1513-14.
  • 3. Vis. Devon, ed. Colby, 75; Vis. Devon ed. Vivian, 528, 529; Trans. Dev. Assoc. liii. 55; lviii. 197; E179/96/153.