Chamberlain, Leonard (DNB00)


CHAMBERLAIN or CHAMBERLAYNE, Sir LEONARD (d. 1561), governor of Guernsey, was son of Sir Edward Chamberlayne [q.v.] of Shirburn Castle, Oxfordshire, by Cicely, daughter of Sir John Verney, knt. Care must be taken in distinguishing this Leonard Chamberlain or Chamberlayne from a contemporary of the same name, the son of another Sir Edward Chamberlayne of Gedding in Suffolk [see under Chamberlayne, Sir Edward, 1484?–1543]. Leonard succeeded his father about 1543 as keeper of Woodstock Park. In Easter term (1542), 33 Henry VIII, there were proceedings in the exchequer with respect to his title to the manor of Barton St. John in Oxfordshire; and in the same year he obtained from the crown a grant of Hampton Poyle in that county and other lands. In 34 Henry VIII the king granted to him and Richard Andrews land in divers counties, including abbey lands and other ecclesiastical property. He was escheator of the counties of Oxfordshire and Berkshire in 36 Henry VIII, and sheriff of those counties in 38 Henry VIII. At the funeral of Henry VIII he bore the banner of the king and Queen Catherine. His name occurs in a special commission of oyer and terminer for the county of Oxford that bears date 2 Dec. 1548. On Sunday, 6 Oct. 1549, the members of the privy council who had combined against the protector Somerset sent for Sir John Markham, the lieutenant of the Tower, and ‘required him to suffer certain others to enter for the good keeping thereof to his majestie's use; whereunto the said lieutenant according, Sir Edmund Peckham, knight, and Leonard Chamberlain, esquire, with their servants, were commanded to enter into the Tower, as associates to the said lieutenant, for the better presidy and guard of the same’ (Literary Remains of Edward VI, ed. Nichols, ii. 233). Such is the language of the Privy Council Book. It scarcely warrants the statement made by Holinshed (Chronicles, iii. 1057) and others that Sir John Markham was removed from the lieutenancy of the Tower, and Chamberlain appointed in his stead.

Chamberlain was in the commission for seizure of church lands in Oxfordshire, 6 Edward VI, and in that year he served for a second time the office of sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. On 22 July 1553 the privy council wrote to Sir John Williams, Leonard Chamberlain, and others of the gentry of Oxfordshire, directing them to dismiss the soldiers and repair to Queen Mary; and on 12 Aug. following the council issued a warrant for delivery of 2,000l. to him and Sir John Williams to be employed about her highness's affairs. He was knighted by Queen Mary at Westminster on 2 Oct. 1553, the day after her coronation, and he sat for Scarborough in the parliament which assembled on the 5th of the same month. It is probable that he was the gentleman porter of the Tower who received the prisoners taken in Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion, one of whom (Thomas Knevit) he ‘toke by the collar very roughlie’ (Chronicle of Queen Jane, ed. Nichols, 52, 61). Queen Mary in the first year of her reign granted him the site of the priory of Dunstable, and other lands in Bedfordshire. He was constituted governor of Guernsey in 1553, and returned for the county of Oxford to the parliaments which met on 2 April and 12 Nov. 1554. During his government of the island of Guernsey he greatly strengthened and improved the works at Castle Cornet. Heylyn, describing that castle as it existed in 1629, observes: ‘By Sir Leonard Chamberlaine, governor here in the time of Queen Mary, and by Sir Thomas Leighton, his successour in the reign of Elizabeth, it was improved to that majesty and beauty that now it hath been excellently fortified according to the moderne art of war, and furnished with almost an hundred piece of ordnance, whereof about sixty are of brasse’ (Tupper, Chronicles of Castle Cornet, ed. 1851, pp. 27–30, 37). Chamberlain was present at the trials of Dr. Rowland Taylor and John Bradford for heresy in January 1554–5; and he appears to have taken a somewhat active part against Bradford (Foxe, Acts and Monuments, ed. Townsend, vii. 162). He died in Guernsey about August 1561; the place of burial, which did not take place till 30 Oct., does not appear (Machyn, Diary, 271).

He had four wives; one of them was Dorothy, fourth daughter of John Newdigate, king's serjeant-at-law. Francis Chamberlain, who in 1555 was joined with him in the government of Guernsey, and who, after Sir Leonard's death, continued sole governor of that island till his own decease in 1570, was his eldest son. His second son, George Chamberlain, was the father of George Chamberlain or Chamberlayne, bishop of Ypres [q. v.].

[Berry's Guernsey, 214; Blomefield's Norfolk, ii. 288, 289, iv. 421, ix. 501; Bridge's Northamptonshire, i. 169, 170, 571, 584, 594, 601; Cat. of Chancery Proceedings, Eliz. ii. 172; Guide to Archæological Antiquities in neighbourhood of Oxford, 262; Haynes's State Papers, 159, 167; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. 410; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. (1547–80), 93, 125; Lipscomb's Bucks, i. 577; Lysons's Bedfordshire, 75; Lysons's Environs, ii. 565, iii. 310; Machyn's Diary, xix. 135, 271, 334; Mem. Scacc. Originalia; Reports of Deputy-keeper of Records, iv. 225, vii. 34, ix. 188, 189, x. 159; Notes and Queries, 3rd series, vi. 109, 151, 330, 403; Strype's Works; Willis's Notitia Parliamentaria, iii. (2), 27, 36, 43; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 585; Wotton's Baronetage, iii. 621.]

T. C.