DARR, Leonard (c.1554-1615), of Totnes afterwards of South Pool, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1554, prob. s. of John or William Darr of Totnes. m. da. of Sir George Bond, at least 1s.

Offices Held

Warden, Totnes Magdalene House 1589; mayor, Totnes 1593-4.1


Darr was one of the merchants who subscribed to the constitution of the Totnes merchants company in 1580. He and another Totnes citizen built the Crescent of Dartmouth, 250 tons, subsidized by the Exchequer, on which the total outlay seems to have been in the region of £5,000, and which served in 1588 and 1589 against the Spaniards. Darr’s other seafaring interests concerned the transport of goods to Brittany. He took a prominent part on the ‘official’ side—in the disputes within the borough connected with the granting of its new charter in 1596, and was one of the 14 councilmen appointed to govern the town.

Much of the work of the 1601 Totnes MPs was concerned with Totnes affairs relating to the disputes over the new charter. They asked Sir Robert Cecil about a new j.p. to replace Nicholas Gooderidge, who had become insane, and he promised to speak to the lord keeper. Darr wrote:

The Lords are all extremely busied with the term and Parliament, being both together, but now the term is ended I hope we shall have better access unto them.

Knowing that one of Cecil’s servants was ‘son’ of Richard Carmarthen, who came from Dartmouth, they promised him £20 to secure a patent for the merchants trading with France. Lest friends in Parliament of the opposing Totnes faction should introduce bills against them, they were assiduous in attendance in the House, and Darr remained in London for Christmas after the Parliament had ended. As the senior burgess he sent home by his fellow-Member Holditch his account of money laid out for the town and ‘what hath passed in the business we had in hand’, advising that ‘the fewer that be made acquainted with the proceeding in it, I hold it the best’. Both burgesses for Totnes were appointed to the main business committee on 3 Nov.2

In 1602 Darr moved from Totnes, and suggested that another be elected to the corporation in his place:

Albeit I be not of your society yet in my love of you all, and to the good estate of the whole town, I will imagine that I am always one, and will be ready to do for it all the good I may.

He retired to South Pool, about 13 miles from Totnes, and died there on as Mar. 1615, bequeathing money for 60 penny loaves to be laid quarterly on his tomb there ‘for ever’, with the proviso that if the churchwardens of South Pool failed in this duty, the poor of Totnes were to benefit instead. The money was to come from his lands and quarries at Molscombe in the parish of Stokenham, Devon. He also left land at Buckfastleigh and a house at Totnes. His inquisition post mortem was held at Exeter 5 Oct. that year, when his son and heir Leonard was nearly 12.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Devon RO, Tingey 367; Western Antiq. x. 3; Totnes recs. list of wardens; W. Cotton, Antiqs. Totnes, 90.
  • 2. Trans. Dev. Assoc. xxxii. 439; PRO Index 6800, f. 211; E134/8 Jas. I/Hil. 23; CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 156; W. Cotton, Antiqs. of Totnes, 94; Totnes recs., letter dated 30 Nov. 1601; Exeter City Mun. DD 61458; D’Ewes, 624.
  • 3. Totnes recs., letter dated 17 July 1602; PCC 103 Rudd; C142/355/61.