Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Leech, Humphrey

LEECH, HUMPHREY (1571–1629), Jesuit, born in 1571, not, as Wood states, at Allerton, but at Drayton in Hales, Shropshire, was matriculated as a member of Brasenose College, Oxford, on 13 Nov. 1590 (Oxford Univ. Register, ed. Clark, vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 180). On the premature death of his parents he went home, and subsequently he continued his studies at Cambridge, where he proceeded B.A. and M.A. Returning to Oxford, he was there incorporated in the degree of M.A. on 23 June 1602 (Wood, Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 298). For a short time he was vicar of St. Alkmond's Church, Shrewsbury, and on going back to Oxford he was appointed one of the chaplains or petty-canons of Christ Church. A sermon which he preached concerning precepts and evangelical counsels gave great offence to the university, and he was summoned before the pro-vice-chancellor, Dr. Leonard Hutton, as a favourer of Roman catholic doctrine. The result was that he was silenced from preaching, and suspended from his commons and function in the college for three months (Wood, Annals, ed. Gutch, ii. 294, 297). After appealing ineffectually to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he proceeded to the college of English Jesuits at St. Omer, and renounced protestantism. Subsequently he resided for some time at Arras. In 1609 he entered the English College at Rome, as an alumnus, in the assumed name of Henry Eccles, and on 2 May 1610 he took the college oath. He was ordained priest on 21 April 1612, left Rome for England on 22 April 1618, and in the same year entered the Society of Jesus (Foley, Records, i. 642, vi. 254). In 1621 he was at the English Jesuit college at Liège, and in the following year he was labouring on the English mission in the 'College of St. Aloysius,' or Lancashire district. For some time he resided, as chaplain, with Mr. Massey of Hooton, Cheshire, where he died on 18 July (O.S.) 1629.

He was the author of: 1. 'The Triumph of Truth. Or Declaration of the Doctrine concerning Evangelicall Counsayles, lately delivered in Oxford . . . With relation of sundry occurrents, and particularly of D. King, the Vicechancellour, his exorbitant proceedings,' with three appendices [Douay], 1609, 12mo; this was answered by Daniel Price of Exeter College, Oxford, in his 'Defence of Truth,' and by Dr. Sebastian Benefield of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in his appendix to 'Doctrinæ Christianæ sex capita,' 1610. 2. 'Dutifull Considerations addressed to King James concerning his premonitory Epistle to Christian Princes,' St. Omer, 1609, 4to. According to Dr. Oliver, Robert Parsons [q. v.] had the chief hand in the composition of this book.

[Addit. MS. 5875, f. 90; De Backer's Bibl. des Écrivains de la Compagnie de Jesus, ii. 685; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 400; Foley's Records, ii. 181, vi. 254; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bonn), p. 1832; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, p. 182; Southwell's Bibl. Scriptorum Soc Jesu, p. 354; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 462.]

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