Leader, John Temple (DNB12)
LEADER, JOHN TEMPLE (1810–1903), politician and connoisseur, born at his father's country house, Putney Hill Villa, sometimes called Lower House, on 7 May 1810, was younger son (in a family of two sons and four daughters) of William Leader, a wealthy merchant of London (d. 1828), by his wife Mary (1762-1838).
The father, son of a coachmaker of the same names, was engaged in business as coachbuilder, distiller, and glass manufacturer; he sat in the House of Commons from 1812 to 1818 as whig member for Camelford, a pocket borough which he bought of Lord Holland for 8000l. From 1820 to 1826 he represented Winchelsea, a pocket borough of Lord Darlington, afterwards duke of Cleveland, and there he had as colleague Henry, afterwards Lord Brougham, with whom he grew intimate. A patron of art, he commissioned George Henry Harlow [q. v.] to paint several portrait groups of his children, in one of which (now at Holmwood, Putney Heath) John figures as a boy.
After education at private schools, John entered Charterhouse in 1823, and won a gold medal there, but soon loft to study under a private tutor, the Rev. Patrick Smyth of Menzios, with whom he visited Ireland, Norway, and Franco. The accidental death at Oxford of his older brother William in February 1826 made him heir to the main part of his father's large fortune, which he inherited on his father's death on 13 Jan. 1828. On 12 Feb. following he matriculated as a gentleman commoner from Christ Church, Oxford. Although he was an idle and spendthrift undergraduate, he formed the acquaintance of some serious contemporaries, including James Robert Hope Scott, W. E. Gladstone, and Sir Stephen Glynne. With the last he made archæological excursions which stimulated a lifelong taste. His favourite recreation in youth was swimming, which ho practised to extreme old age. In his Oxford vacations he continued his foreign travels. Ho was in Paris daring the revolution of 1830, and there, throng tho introduction of his father's friend. Brougham, came to know many liberal politicians like Arago, Cuvier, and Armand Carrel. Ho took no degree at the university, and after leaving Oxford actively engaged in politics. He attached himself to the advanced wing of the liberal party and in that interest was elected M.P. for Bridgwater in January 1835. He at once made a mark in political circles. In the house he generally acted with Grote, Molesworth, and the philosophical radicals, and was among the most thoroughgoing champions of 'The People's (barter' (cf. W. E. Adams, Memoirs of a Social Atom, 1903, p. 154). In his first session he seconded Grote's resolution in favour of the ballot. John Arthur Roebuck [q. v.] regarded him as a useful politician, but feared his addiction to social amusements. Some of his party friends complained that his political speeches were too violent and bitter. In 1836 he joined the Reform Club, of which he remained a member till his death. In February 1837, as a disciple of Brougham and Grote, he was admitted to the first council of the new London University (Gent. Mag. 1837, i. 408), and in the same month he presided at a dinner to Thomas Wakley, which was attended by Daniel O'Connell. Joseph Hume, and moat of the forward radicals.
In May 1837 Leader adventurously accepted the Chiltern hundreds in order to contest Westminster at a bye-election against Sir Francis Burdett. Having abandoned his radical principles, Burdett had resigned the seat, and was challenging his constituents to return him anew as a conservative. Leader was defeated, polling 3052 votes against 3567, but he renewed his candidature at the general election in August, when his opponent was Sir George Murray, and he was elected by 3793 against 2620. He was re-elected in July 1841, and remained the representative of Westminster till the dissolution in 1847. He continued to advocate chartism and radicalism with unabated energy. On 2 May 1842 he seconded Thomas Duncombe's motion 'that the petitioners for the national charter be heard at the bar of the house.' In the same session (18 Feb.) he supported G. P. Villiers's motion for the total repeal of the corn laws. On 13 Feb. 1844 he spoke in behalf of the hberties of Canada, which he joined Roebuck in championing. He was not heard in the house again (Hansard, Debates, 1836-44).
While in the house Leader was prominent in all phases of London society, and extended his large acquaintance on holiday tours in Italy and France. His intimacy with Brougham grew and he was his only companion, on 21 Oct. 1839, in the carriage accident near Brougham Hall, Cumberland, which led to the sensational report of Brougham's death (Lord Broughton's Reminiscences, v. 229). He entertained largely at his residence at Putney and at a house which he rented in Stratton Street. His friend Edward John Trelawny [q. v.] long lived with him at Putney. Other off his guests there included Richard Monckton Mines, Charles Austin, and French, Italian, and American visitors to the country (see for list R. E. Leader's Autob. of J. A. Roehuch, 1897, pp. 106-7). He saw much in London of Louis Napoleon, afterwards Napoleon III, who, when projecting his descent Ton Boulogne in 1840, solicited Leader's influence with his French friends. He cultivated intercourse with men of letters and artists, and showed an interest in Gabriele Rossetti, the father of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (W. M. Rossetti's Reminiscences, 1906, pp. 366-7).
In 1844 Leader's career underwent, without explanation, a sudden change. Abandoning his promising political prospects and his manifold interests at home, he left England for the Continent, and although his life was prolonged for nearly half a century he thenceforth paid his native country only rare and brief visits. At first he spent much time at Cannes with his friend Brougham, and here Cobden met them both in 1846. Like Brougham, Leader acquired property at Cannes, and exerted himself to improve the place. He built a residence there, which was known as the 'Chateau Leader,' and the municipality named a thoroughfare 'Boulevard Leader.' But he parted with his possessions at Cannes some time before his death.
It was with Florence that Leader's exile was mainly identified. In that city and its near neighbourhood he purchased many old buildings of historic interest, elaborately restoring them at munificent cost and filling them with works of art and antiquities. On 16 Feb. 1850 he bought the ancient Villa Pazzi, in the village of Majano near Florence. On 5 March 1855 he purchased the ruined medieval castle of Vincigliata, in 1857 a house in the Piazza dei Petti in Florence itself, and on 8 April 1862, the Villa Catanzaro, also at Majano. All these edifices were practically rebuilt under his supervision. The two houses at Majano were each renamed Villa Temple Leader (La parocchia di S. Martino e Majano: Cenni storici. Florence, 1875. ((sc|G. Marcotti}}, Simpatie di Majano, Lettere dalla Villa Temple Leader, Florence, 1883). In the restoration of the gigantic castle of Vincigliata Leader took immense interest. The exhaustive reconstruction was the work of Giuseppi Fancelli, son of the fattore or steward of Leader's Florentine estates, whom he had had trained as an architect. As at his villas at Majano, Leader provided at Vincighata a spacious swimming-bath in the grounds, where he indulged his favourite pastime winter and summer till near his death. Although he lived part of each year in the restored castle, he freely opened it to the public. His pride in it increased with his years, and he delighted in conducting through it distinguished visitors. His visitors' book at Vincigliata abounded in autographs of persons of eminence in royal, artistic, and literary circles throughout Europe ; Queen Victoria signed the book on 15 April 1888. He commemorated many of these visits by inscriptions on marble slabs which he affixed to the castle walls. Some of his Florentine guests renewed old associations. In January 1888 he acted as cicerone to Gladstone and his family, and he opened an intimate correspondence with the statesman which continued till the end of Gladstone's life. He surprised Gladstone by his vitality, and interested him in a collection which he formed of English words derived from the Italian (cf. Philological Pastimes of an Englishman in Tuscany, with some Letters of Gladstone to J. T. Leader, 1898).
Leader's practical interest in Florentine archæology, which extended beyond his own possessions, was rewarded by the bestowal on him of the knight commandership of the crown of Italy by King Victor Emmanuel. Under his auspices many archaeological treatises concerning Vincigliata and Majano were compiled and published, and several Italian manuscripts of literary, historical, or genealogical interest were printed at his expense. Zealously studying the careers of historical personages who were associated with his Italian properties, Leader with the aid of competent scholars made especially exhaustive researches into the biographies of Sir John Hawkwood [q. v.] and Robert Dudley, titular duke of Northumberland [q. v.]. His life of Hawkwood. 'Giovanni Acuto,' which came out at Florence in 1889 in the joint names of himself and Giuseppe Marcotti, is a standard work; it was translated into English by 'Leader Scott' in 1889 [see Baxter, Lucy, Suppl. II]. Hardly less elaborate is Leader's 'Life of Sir Robert Dudley, Duke of Northumberland' (Florence, 1895), in the preface to which he acknowledges 'Leader Scott's' assistance. An Italian translation appeared at Florence in 1896.
Leader died, active to the last, at 14 Piazza dei Pitti, Florence, on 1 March 1903. Late in life he adopted the Roman catholic faith, and in accordance with a codicil to his will he was buried with Roman catholic rites.
On 19 Aug. 1867 Leader married, on one of his few visits to London, by special licence, Maria Louisa di Leoni, widow of Count Antonio di Leoni and daughter of Constantine Raimondi. She died at Florence on 5 Feb. 1906, without issue.
A fine medallion portrait of Leader in bronze, dated 1895 (presented by himself), is in the audience room of the Reform Club, Pall Mall. Portraits of him and his wife by Italian artists are at the Piazza dei Pitti at Florence and the Villa Temple Leader, Maiano.
Leader's fortune amounted to 250,000l. He made several bequests to educational and charitable institutions in Florence, including the sum of 7000l. for the restoration of the central bronze door of the Duomo. The rest of his property in England and Italy, including Vincigliata, was bequeathed to his grandnephew, Richard Luttrell Pilkington Bethell, third Lord Westbury, whose maternal grandfather, the Rev. Alexander Fownes-Luttrell, had married Leader's sister, Anne Jane. Leader still owned at his death the family residence on Putney Hill. He proved his lifelong interest in the district by giving 2000l. in 1887 for the restoration of St. John's Church there.
[Authorities cited; information from the third Lord Westbury; The Times, 3 March 1903, 11 May (will); Tablet, 16 May 1903; Leader's Rough and Rambling Notes, chiefly of my Early Life, Florence 1899 (with reprint of a contemporary memoir of Leader in Saunders's Portraits and Memoirs of the Most Eminent Political Reformers, 1838); R. E. Leader's Autob. of Roebuck, 1897, passim; J. C. Francis's Notes by the Way, 1909, p. 188.
Accounts of Leader's chief Italian residences appeared under his auspices in ‘Il Castello di Vincigliata e i suoi contorni,’ Florence, 1871; Giuseppe Marcotti's ‘Vincigliata,’ Florence, 1870; and ‘Majano Vincigliata Settignano,’ by Alessandro Papini (Leader's maestro di casa), Florence, 1876. Largely working on Marcotti's book, Leader Scott (Mrs. Lucy Baxter) prepared for Leader her ‘Vincigliata and Maiano,’ Florence, 4to, 1891, and her ‘Guide to Vincigliata,’ Florence, 1897.]