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6thly. Shall make such further observations on the civil claim and the criminal charges as the recent disclosures, and my present knowledge and peculiar position appear to me fairly to warrant.
It may here be premised that Sir Thomas Leigh, Knight, Lord Mayor of London, in 1558, had four sons.
The first son Rowland, had the Adlesthorpe estate in Gloucestershire, now possessed by his descendant, the present Chandos Lord Leigh, created Baron Leigh of Stoneleigh, by William the Fourth. The third son of this Sir Thomas Leigh, the Lord Mayor of London, had the Stoneleigh estates, and his grandson Thomas (great grandson of the Lord Mayor) was created Baron Leigh of Stoneleigh, by King Charles the s. on the first day of July, 1643, and died 1672. This first Lord Leigh of the old peerage had five sons, the first John, died in infancy, the third, Charles, left no issue. From Sir Thomas, the second son, who died in his father's life time, descended Edward, the fifth Lord Leigh, the last male descendant of such second son of the first Lord Leigh, and the last who bore the title.
On this Lord's decease in 1786, there were therefore no male descendants of the three elder sons of the first Lord Leigh remaining, who could inherit. There were descendants through females of Thomas the second son, but the
peerage was so limited that it could descend only to males who could make out their descent all the way down, through males only. In legal phrase the title was limited in tail male. The heir male therefore, if any who could make out such a descent through males only from Christopher, the fourth son of the first Lord Leigh, was entitled to the old peerage immediately on the fifth Lord's decease.
By that fifth Lord's will (as will be afterwards shown) such male descendant of Christopher Leigh (if any) or his descendants became also entitled in 1806 to the Abbey and estates in five counties, that is to say on the decease of the fifth Lord's sister, the Honourable Mary Leigh, who died in that year. By such will of Edward, the fifth Lord, dated 11th May, 1767: proved 1786, amongst other provisions, not material to a popular understanding of the present claims, the estates were given to the testator's sisters, the Honourable Mary Leigh, and Mrs. Hackett, and to their issue (if they left any) which they did not, and subject thereto the estates were devised in the following words : “unto the first “ and nearest of my kindred, being male, and of my name “and blood, who shall be living at the time of the deter• mination of the several estates herein-before limited and de“vised, and to the heirs of his body, lawfully begotten, and “ for want of such issue, to my own right heirs for ever.” “Mrs. Hackett dying in her brother Edward Lord Leigh's life time, leaving no issue, The Honourable Mary Leigh became on Lord Leigh's own decease in 1786, the only person standing in the way of the heir male (if there were any living) descended through males all the way down from Christopher Leigh. Such an heir male would answer the description in Lord Leigh's will of the “ first and nearest of his kindred « and of his name and blood ;" and on thc Honourable Mary Leigh's decease in 1806, became entitled under the fifth Lord Leigh’s will to the estates,
Mr. George Leigh attempted ineffectually to establish his clairn to the Peerage in 1828 and 9, and also claimed the estates as being “the first and nearest of Edward, the fifth Lord Leigh's kindred " under the above limitation in his will, and the beforenamed Mr. J. Leigh and Mr. H. Leigh, each asserts he is the rightful claimant to the estates, under that limitation, as well as to the old peerage.
If there were no person who could make such a claim as descended from Christopher Leigh, the fourth son of the first Lord Leigh, we have to look for the fifth son and his descendants, but he died unmarried.
If therefore all the male issue of the first Lord thus failed, then under the words “ right heirs" above given from Lord Leigh's will, his right heiress The Honourable Mary Leigh was entitled to dispose of the estates by her will. By such will dated in 1786, the year her brother died, she did dispose of the estates to the family now in possession, and on her death in 1806, the late Revd. Thomas Leigh took possession, and dying withont issue in June 1813, his brother James Henry Leigh, Esq. succeeded him, and on his decease, 27th of October, 1823, his Son Chandos Leigh, Esqr. (since created Lord Leigh) became the possessor of the Abbey and other estates.
SECONDLY, As to Mr. George Leigh's unfounded claim to the ancient peerage.
In 1828 and 9, this claim came before the House of Lords and the most interesting point in the case was the endeavour to prove the existence up to the year 1811 of a monument To the Honourable Christopher Leigh, fourth son of the first Lord Leigh, on the inner side of the south wall of Stoneleigh Church, and the inscription thereon. That inscription it is alleged had been copied, exelusive of several lines of latin, by different illiterate persons, and has generally been given as follows: though the correctness of it is very
much questioned, and was rejected by Mr. George Leigh's agents from their evidence:
Copy. Sacred to the memory of the Honourable Christopher Leigh fourth son of the Right Honourable Thomas Lord Leigh, and Lady Mary his wife. He married Penelope Cotton, daughter of Sir G. Cotton, Bart. of Cumbermere Abbey, Cheshire, by whom he had issue, Mary, Catherine, Roger, and Ferdinand. He married secondly Constance Clent daughter of John Clent, Esqr. of the Borough of Warwick by whom he had issue, Thomas. Roger Leigh of Haigh Hall, eldest son of the above Honour. able Christopher Leigh, he married Margaret Higham, eldest daughter of James Higham, Esqr. of Wigan, Lancashire, by whom he had issue, Robert and James.
CHRISTOPHERUS LEIGH, OBIIT SEPTEMBER XVI,
ÆTAT, XLVI. The principal use of this monument as evidence, would have been to prove the marriage of Christopher Leigh, and a female of the name of Cotton, and the birth of their son Roger, from whose second son James Leigh, named on the monument (Robert the first having died unmarried) the claimant asserted his descent. That marriage was supposed to have been solemnized in the Church of Wrenbury, in Cheshire and the well kept register there would have been the best evidence of this marriage, but a great part of the unfortunate page where it ought to have been, had been obliterated by chemical or mechanical means, and was stated to be an out
There is little doubt from some clauses in the will of Constance Clent, the second wife of Christopher Leigh, that be made a will or a settlement, or both, which might have shewn his first marriage, and the issue of it, but no such can