The Tudor Society

Richard Leigh (1557-1588)

The Tyburn Tree (gallows)

Richard Leigh was born in 1557, the son of Richard Leigh and Clemence Holcroft, daughter of Sir John Holcroft.

Leigh was the subject of an arranged marriage in 1562 with Anne Belfield, daughter of Ralph Belfield of Clegg Hall. Anne's sister, Elizabeth, was also married that day to Alexander Barlow. However, both marriages were annulled at a later date on the grounds that they were all too young to be legally married.

Richard Leigh attended school in Shrewsbury, going on to study divinity at Reims and at Rome, where he was ordained in 1586. He returned to England but was arrested in London and exiled from the country. Leigh, however, broke his exile, returning in July 1588, when he was once again arrested. His return and arrest coincided with the Spanish Armada, a time when there had been a resurgence in anti-Catholic sentiment, which perhaps led to his demise.

Leigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London and condemned in the Old Bailey for being a priest. He was hanged at Tyburn in 1588 alongside John Roche, Richard Flowers, Richard Martin and Margaret Ward.

Leigh was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929.

by Georgia Whitehead

Georgia has just finished her masters in Classics at the University of Edinburgh. Academically, Georgia is interested in early Christianity, with her master's thesis focusing on "The Male Gaze and Self-Representation in Female Christian Narratives". In addition to her interest in ancient history, she has always been an avid lover of the Tudor era, drawn to the magnificence of the Tudor courts and the larger than life characters. She is particularly interested in The Reformation, Christianity and the shifting sands of ecclesiastical politics in this period and also has a keen interest in the lives of Tudor women. It is Georgia's ambition to become a writer, perhaps publishing her own Tudor novel one day.
Georgia also runs a history blog and instagram page called Historia Mundis.

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Richard Leigh (1557-1588)