Open main menu


LEEKE, Sir HENRY JOHN (1790?–1870), admiral, son of Samuel Leeke, a deputy-lieutenant of Hampshire, entered the navy in 1803, on board the Royal William, guardship at Spithead. It is probable that his service on board her was merely nominal, and that he did not actually go afloat till 1806, when he went out to the Mediterranean in the Iris frigate. He afterwards served in the Royal Sovereign, flagship of Vice-admiral Edward Thornbrough [q. v.], and in the Terrible with Captain Lora Henry Paulet. As midshipman of the Volontaire he commanded a boat on the night of 31 Oct. 1809, when four armed vessels and seven merchant ships were taken from under the batteries in the Bay of Rosas by the boats of the squadron. He was afterwards serving in the Persian when he was promoted to be lieutenant on 24 Nov. 1810. She brought home a large number of prisoners, who attempted one night to take possession of the ship. No one was on deck but Leeke and a quartermaster, but snatching up cutlasses, they stopped the rush of the Frenchmen, and kept them at bay till assistance arrived. He continued serving, chiefly in the Mediterranean, during the war, and was promoted to be commander on 15 June 1814. From 1819 to 1822 he commanded the Myrmidon sloop on the west coast of Africa, where he was actively employed, on different occasions, in reducing the native kings to order and obedience. For assistance rendered to a wrecked schooner he received a gold medal from the Portuguese government. In 1824 he was appointed to the Herald yacht, in which he took out the Bishops of Barbadoes and Jamaica, and thus had the opportunity of bringing home from the Havana a freight of upwards of a million dollars in specie. He was advanced to post rank on 27 May 1826. On 1 April 1835 he was knighted, in recognition of his services on the coast of Africa, and on 25 Jan. 1836 he was nominated a K.H. From 1845 to 1848 he was flag-captain to Admiral Sir John West at Devonport, and in 1852 was appointed superintendent and commander-in-chief of the Indian navy. The duties of the office were principally administrative; but when the war with Persia broke out in November 1856 he assumed the command of the squadron which convoyed the troops to the Persian Gulf, covered their landing, and on 10 Nov. drove the enemy out of Bushir in a four hours' bombardment. In March 1857, on the expiration of five years, he returned to England. He had been promoted to the rank of rear-admiral on 15 April 1854; on 1 Oct. 1858 he was nominated a K.C.B, He became a vice-admiral on 2 May 1860, and admiral on 11 Jan. 1864. He died in February 1870. He married in 1818 a daughter of James Dashwood of Parkhurst in Surrey.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biog. Dict.; Ann. Reg. 1856, vol. xcviii. pt. i. p. 265; Low's Hist. of the Indian Navy, ii. 240-382; Times, 28 Feb. 1870.]

J. K. L.