Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lesieur, Stephen

LESIEUR, Sir STEPHEN (fl. 1586–1627), ambassador, seems to have been a Frenchman. He was living at Dunkirk in January 1586, and in October of that year became secretary to the French ambassador in England. In May 1589 he tried to become a denizen, and succeeded shortly afterwards. Cecil took him into the public service about 1598. In October 1602 he was sent with Lord Eure, Sir John Herbert, and Dr. Daniel Donne [q. v.], to treat with the king of Denmark and the Hanse Towns at Bremen. While he was at Bremen the queen died, to the great injury, he afterwards complained, of his prospects. On 25 June 1603 he was sent on an embassy to the emperor, Rudolph II. In March 1605 he was living next to York House in London. He seems to have had a pension of 50l. a year from 1605, and on 31 Jan. 1607–8 he received a grant of 4,000l. of old crown debts to recover. James I also, on 23 March 1608, gave him 1,000l. In 1608 he seems to have been in Florence, in 1609 he went on an embassy to the archduke, and in Nov. 1609 he set out for Florence again, when the Bishop of Winchester asked him to take his son with him. At Florence he had small success, and going to the emperor in 1612–3, he was recalled as ‘unacceptable.’ He remained, however, at Prague till April 1614, and wrote his name in an autograph book belonging to John Opsimathis of Moravia, which is preserved in the British Museum (Eg. MS. 52). Letters of Lesieur between 1597 and 1603 are mentioned in ‘Hist. MSS. Comm.’ 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th Reps. He seems to have had no further public employment, and in 1627 petitioned Charles I for the continuance of the pension which James I had granted to him. The date of his death is uncertain. He married by license, granted 21 Dec. 1592, Mary, widow of Francis Littleton.

[Calendars of State Papers, Dom. 1581–1628, passim; Syllabus to Rymer's Fœdera, 828–31; Chester's London Marriage Licenses; Devon's Issues of the Exchequer.]

W. A. J. A.