LEIGHTON, Sir Edward, 1st Bt. (c.1650-1711), of Wattlesborough Castle, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. c.1650, 1st surv. s. of Robert Leighton† of Wattlesborough Castle by Gertrude, da. of Edward Baldwin of Diddlebury, Salop. educ. Shrewsbury 1661; Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 5 Aug. 1668, aged 18; I. Temple 1669. m. (1) 24 May 1677, Dorothy (d. 1688), da. of Sir Job Charlton, 1st Bt.†, of Ludford, Herefs., 3s. 4da.; (2) 29 July 1693, Jane, da. of Daniel Nicholls, merchant, of London, 3s. 4da. suc. fa. 1689; cr. Bt. 2 Mar. 1693.1
Freeman, Ludlow 1681; sheriff, Salop 1692–3.2
Leighton was a wealthy country gentleman whose family had been established in Shropshire since before the Conquest, having acquired Wattlesborough Castle, some eight miles from Shrewsbury, in the late 15th century. His father had sat for Shrewsbury in the Cavalier Parliament, and had been listed as opposing the administration of Lord Danby (Sir Thomas Osborne†), although he appears subsequently to have collaborated with the government of James II. Leighton was himself named in 1687 as a suitable person to be added to the commission of the peace for Shropshire, a proposal which was approved by the commission of regulation.3
Leighton stood both at Shrewsbury and for the county in 1695 on the Whig interest, putting up for knight of the shire at the last moment, after his defeat in the town, but losing there as well. At the next election he took the place of the retiring Whig knight and was returned unopposed with a Tory. He was classed in September 1698 as a supporter of the Country party, but voted against the bill to disband the army on 18 Jan. 1699. Generally an inactive Member, he was given leave of absence on 25 Mar. 1699 and again on 9 Mar. 1700. An analysis of the House of early 1700 listed him as being in the interest of the Earl of Bradford (Francis Newport†).4
Leighton did not stand again until 1708, when he failed at first in an attempt to overthrow the powerful Tory faction in Shrewsbury. Leighton petitioned, however, and in December 1709 his petition was upheld, although the decision was criticized at the time, even by a Whig, as having been grounded in little more than party prejudice. He voted in the following year in favour of the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, and either he or his son Edward Leighton was one of the ten Whig gentlemen of Shropshire who in April 1710 signed an open letter to the lord lieutenant of the county, complaining against the way in which Tories in Shrewsbury had gone about drawing up an address to the Queen in Sacheverell’s favour. The impeachment proved to be an important issue in the 1710 election, in which Leighton lost his seat, he and a Whig colleague being defeated by two Tories.5
Leighton died in April 1711 and was buried at Alderbury, Shropshire, on 6 Apr. Wattlesborough Castle was bequeathed to his second wife for her lifetime, whereupon Edward Leighton, his eldest son and principal heir, removed the family residence to Loton Park, close by.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. B. Botfield, Stemmata Botevilliana, 157–8; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. ser. 1, ix. 414–17; ser. 4, vi. 59; xii. 223; Salop Par. Reg. Soc. Hereford dioc. v. Cardeston, 1, 2, 41, 42; vi. 222, 226, 230, 236, 240, 245, 251, 256, 260, 268, 270, 276, 279, 282, 286.
- 2. Salop RO, Ludlow bor. recs. adm. of freemen.
- 3. Mont. Colls. viii. 99–100; HMC Lords, n.s. x. 92–93; CJ, xvii. 463; Botfield, 157–8; VCH Salop, viii. 196; Herbert Corresp. ed. W. J. Smith (Univ. of Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xxi), 36; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 184.
- 4. VCH Salop. iii. 257.
- 5. Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 523; Parlty. Lists of Early 18th Cent. ed. Newman, 82; Boyer, Anne Annals, ix. 185.
- 6. Add. 36175, f. 4; Salop Par. Reg. Soc. Hereford dioc. v. Cardeston, p. vi; vi. 329; VCH Salop, viii. 198.