LEDER, Oliver (by 1497-1557), of London of Great Staughton, Hunts.
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Family and Education
b. by 1497, yr. s. of Thomas Leder of Great Staughton. educ. ?M. Temple, adm. 28 Nov. 1514. m. 1523/26, Frances, da. and coh. of Francis Baldwin of London and Southampton, s.p. suc. bro. c.1535. Kntd. 2 Feb. 1555.2
Six Clerk in Chancery 1523-d.; attorney, duchy of Lancaster, in Chancery 1524-d.; commr. subsidy, Hunts. 1524, tenths of spiritualities 1535; j.p. 1536-d.; sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 1541-2, 1554-5.3
A younger son in a large family, Oliver Leder was almost certainly the person of that surname admitted to the Middle Temple in November 1514. He had perhaps earlier been brought up to trade, for by 1526 he had become a freeman of the Fishmongers’ Company and had acquired a pepper factory in Spain. How and when he came to the notice of Wolsey does not appear, but in 1517-18 he owed the chancellor 10s. on bills and obligations; by 1523 he was one of the Six Clerks in Chancery and in the following year was made attorney in that court for the duchy of Lancaster. The freedom from celibacy gained by the Six Clerks in 1523 (14 and 15 Hen. VIII, c.8) Leder used to marry the daughter of a deceased London draper, and his legal and commercial skill to sustain the resulting litigation over her inheritance: when the matter was finally settled in 1529 by the arbitration of Cromwell and a London alderman the estate proved insufficient to meet a large debt to the crown, which it took Leder and the executor several years to discharge.4
As a Six Clerk, Leder worked under the direction of the master of the rolls, and Cromwell’s 20-month tenure of that office may have contributed to Leder’s advancement in his shire, of which he was made a justice in 1536, elected one of the knights in 1539, and pricked sheriff in 1541. He had yet to inherit property there, for his eldest brother Stephen, a priest, was still alive, but from March 1537 he began to acquire land at Great Staughton. When his lease of some of the Stoneley Grange lands was threatened he offered Cromwell £40 to speak to the chancellor of augmentations, Sir Richard Rich, and he engaged in a number of transactions with Richard Cromwell alias Williams, a rising figure in Huntingdonshire. His election with the younger Cromwell to the Parliament of 1539 may thus be regarded as a move in the minister’s campaign to give the King a ‘tractable’ House of Commons. Within 18 months they would have to share in his destruction.5
In July 1539 Leder made his capital purchase when he paid £1,430 for the rectory manor of Great Staughton and other monastic property in Huntingdonshire, four nearby counties and London; two days afterwards he bought 800 acres at Midloe, near Staughton, from John Gostwick. Most of the remoter lands he sold off, but Great Staughton became the core of his estate and the rectory manor house his home. The years which followed saw him consolidate his position by buying land he had previously rented, notably Rushoe Park and Whitley Wood from Lord Ferrers and Stoneley priory property from the augmentations. The process was not without incident: in December 1553 Rushoe and Whitley were the scene of a hedge-breaking and poaching operation by armed men.6
Leder’s attitude towards the religious changes of his time receives interesting illustration. In December 1549 he and his neighbour Sir Lawrence Taylard were taken to task by the Protector Somerset for intervening against the removal of images from St. Neot’s church. Some four years later it was with the conservative Taylard that Leder was to be elected to Mary’s first Parliament, and their support for the restoration of Catholicism may be inferred from the absence of their names from the list of Members who were noted as having ‘stood for the true religion’ against the initial steps in that direction. The shrievalty which followed in 1554 and a knighthood from King Philip early in 1555 bespeak Leder’s high standing with the new government. Yet he was no bigot and he was prepared to think for himself. As sheriff he was conspicuously kind to the Protestant Thomas Mountain, whom he entertained in his house while escorting him to Cambridge gaol and who was later to be released on bail because Leder, who had already spoken for Mountain, told the judges that he had forgotten to bring the writ against him. More revealing still is the will which Leder made on 21 Sept. 1554, with its injunction to his wife to perform his many charitable bequests, but ‘not for that I do trust to my works, as some prating preachers have lately borne us in hand’.7
Leder left all his lands to his wife, ‘being very sorry that for her wise and womanly governance and most loving and honest behaviour ... I have not ten times so much to give unto her’. He provided for three nieces, but not for his nephew, ‘a very unthrifty lad ... of a lewd life’, who had already cost him 200 marks. Four godsons named Oliver and many other godchildren attest his popularity. He asked his old friend Taylard to serve as his wife’s solicitor in executing the will and another, John Millicent, to oversee it. As she died before the will was proved, all the lands went to her uncle, who soon disposed of them. Leder was buried at Huntingdon on 6 Mar. 1557.8
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: T. M. Hofmann
- 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. VCH Hunts. ii. 359; CIPM Hen. VII, ii. 647; PCC 24 Maynwaryng, 17 Noodes; LP Hen. VIII, iv, viii; Harl. 606 4, f. 80v.
- 3. Somerville, Duchy, i. 457; LP Hen. VIII, iv, viii,x, xii, xiii, xvi, xvii, xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 85; 1553, p. 354; 1553-4, pp. 20; 34, 35.
- 4. E36/121, f. 52; LP Hen. VIII, iv, xi, add.; W. Herbert, Twelve Livery Cos. ii. 6.
- 5. Elton, Tudor Rev. in Govt. 130-1; LP Hen. VIII, iv-vi, viii-xiii; VCH Hunts. ii. 205; iii. 81; Cal. Feet of Fines, Hunts. ed. Turner, 125, 127-9.
- 6. LP Hen. VIII, xiv-xvi, xviii, xix; DKR x(2), 229-30; St.Ch.4/6/77.
- 7. APC, ii. 140-1; Harl. 6064, f. 80v; Narr. Ref. (Cam. Soc. lxxvii), 196-207; PCC 17 Noodes.
- 8. PCC 17 Noodes; VCH Hunts. ii. 359.