LEKE, Sir Francis, 1st Bt. (1627-79), of The Chauntry, Newark, Notts.
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Family and Education
bap. 1 Nov. 1627, 1st s. of William Leke† of Newark by 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir Guy Palmes of Ashwell, Rutland. educ. travelled abroad c.1645. m. c.1643, Frances, da. of Sir William Thorold, 1st Bt., of Marston, Lincs., 1s. 4da. suc. fa. 1651; kntd. by 17 Oct. 1661; cr. Bt. 15 Dec. 1663.1
Trooper (royalist) c.1643-5; capt. Lord Gerard’s Horse 1666-7; gov. Gravesend and Tilbury 1670-d.2
J.p. Notts. July 1660-d., commr. for assessment, Notts. Aug. 1660-d., Newark 1663-4, Essex and Kent 1673-4, Derbys. 1677-d., Essex 1679-d.; dep. lt. Notts. c. Aug. 1660-d., sheriff Nov. 1660-1, commr. for corporations 1662-3, loyal and indigent officers 1662.3
Leke’s father was half-brother to the 1st Earl of Scarsdale. He appears to have taken no part in the Civil War, but Leke himself, a married man at 16, rode as a trooper in the Belvoir garrison for two years. On returning from travel he was denounced as a delinquent, and on his father’s death had to pay a fine of £2,352. He declared his income at £1,077 p.a., a good figure for a cadet branch. He became an army officer in 1662, but continued to act as deputy lieutenant in Nottinghamshire, in which capacity he was responsible for the arrest of John Hutchinson in 1663. For this service he was created a baronet, and marked out for a responsible post. Returned for the county at a by-election in 1666, he was soon named to consider a bill for preventing and punishing the voluntary absence of Members, but his only other committees were two for indigent officers, two for taxes in the Bedford level, one on the export of horses, two private bills and six for elections and privileges. His appointment as governor of the block-houses on either side of the mouth of the Thames made him in effect controller of shipping between London and the Continent, half customs official, half policeman, and until his son was old enough to deputize for him he could seldom leave his post. He was on both lists of the court party in 1669-71 among those to be engaged by the Duke of Buckingham, on the Paston list in 1673-4, and the list of King’s servants in 1675. Shaftesbury noted him as ‘thrice vile’ in 1677, and he appears again on both lists of court supporters in 1678. On 14 May he sat on his first committee since 1673, which was for his father-in-law’s estate bill, but this was also his last. He probably did not stand again, and died at Gravesend in the first week of October 1679. His son, who was appointed to succeed him in his official posts, died unmarried a few years later without entering Parliament.4