Leslie, John (1527-1596) (DNB00)
LESLIE or LESLEY, JOHN (1527–1596), bishop of Ross, was the eldest son of Gavin Lesley, rector of Kingussie, Inverness-shire, the great grandson of Andrew Lesley of Balquhain, and commissary of the diocese of Moray. His mother was daughter of Ruthin, the laird of Gormack. He is termed by Knox a ‘priest's gett’ (bastard), and a dispensation was granted him 19 July 1538, while a scholar of the province of Moray, rendering him capable, notwithstanding his illegitimacy, of taking priest's orders. From the fact that his epitaph at Brussels gives his age at the time of his death as seventy, some authorities make 1526 the year of his birth; but in the contemporary life (see Anderson, Collections, i. 1) the date given is 29 Sept. 1527, and the authority quoted for it is the registers of baptism in Scotland. He was educated at King's College, Aberdeen, where he graduated M.A. It is improbable that he is identical with a John Leslie who in 1544 was made organist and master of a song school in Aberdeen. On 15 June 1546 he was admitted an acolyte in the cathedral church, and in the twentieth year of his age he was inducted to a canonry. In 1549 he proceeded to Paris, and after studying there for some time theology, Greek, and Hebrew, he removed to the university of Poictiers, where, according to his own account, his studies embraced a complete course of canon and civil law, extending over about four years (discourse, ib. iii. 6). He spent another year in Paris studying law in the schools there, and returned to Scotland in April 1554 (ib.) In 1553 he had been appointed canonist in King's College, Aberdeen (Fasti Aberd. p. lxxxi). In April 1558 he was admitted to holy orders, and nominated official of the diocese of Aberdeen, and on 2 July 1559 he was inducted to the parsonage, canonry, and prebend of Oyne. He and other learned men of Aberdeen were summoned in January 1561 to a convention of the nobility in Edinburgh, to dispute with Knox and other reformers regarding the mass and similar controversial matters. Knox represents Leslie as timidly declining to commit himself to any opinion, and affirming that he knew nothing but nolumus and volumus (Knox, Works, ii. 141). Leslie himself, however, affirms that he and the other doctors strenuously contended for the ancient doctrine and usages (De Origine, p. 574). They were for some time detained in Edinburgh, so that they might listen to the preaching of the reformers, and, according to another account by Leslie, were even kept in prison, and were not set free till they gave sureties that they would appear for trial when called upon (History, Bannatyne Club ed. p. 293).
On the death of Queen Mary's husband, Francis II, Leslie was commissioned by Huntly and other catholic nobles in the north to visit her in France, and to invite her in their name to return to Scotland by way of Aberdeen, where a force of twenty thousand catholics would be at her disposal to enable her to mount the throne as a catholic sovereign (Leslie, De Origine, p. 575; Hist. Bannatyne Club ed. p. 294). On 15 April he had an interview with Mary at Vitry in Champagne, and, although she declined to adopt his suggestions, she commanded him to remain near her person. While in France Leslie unsuccessfully endeavoured to enlist the sympathies of the pope, the Cardinal of Lorraine, and others in behalf of the Scottish catholics. In 1562 he was named professor of canon law in King's College and university of Aberdeen, and on 19 Jan. 1564–5 he was made an ordinary judge of the court of session. In 1565 he was chosen a member of the privy council, making his first appearance at the council meeting on 18 Oct. (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 380). According to Knox, it was on the advice of Leslie and others that the queen evaded the proposal of the reformed party that, previous to her marriage to Darnley, she should hold a convention at Perth to ‘take a final order for religion’ (Works, ii. 481). In February following Leslie obtained the abbacy of Lindores after receiving a dispensation to hold it from the pope on the 24th (Laing in Appendix to Knox, ii. 601). On the death of Henry Sinclair, bishop of Ross, he was promoted to that see, and the appointment was confirmed in April 1566.
On the night of Rizzio's murder the bishop was in attendance on the queen in Holyrood, but immediately afterwards obtained leave from Darnley to ‘go where he would’ (Cal. Hatfield MSS. i. 334). On the queen's flight to Dunbar he met her there to consult as to the steps which should be taken for her defence and the avenging of the murder (Knox, ii. 525). From the time of the Darnley marriage Leslie had been the queen's chief adviser in her ecclesiastical policy, and he now, according to rumour, won also the goodwill of Bothwell by his ability to ‘take a cup too many’ (Randolph to Cecil, 20 June 1566, on the authority of the parson of Fliske, Sir James Balfour; Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1566–8, entry 508). It was chiefly through Leslie's advice that in this year the queen appointed a commission to revive and publish the laws of Scotland, the result being the publication in the same year of the ‘Actis and Constitutiounis of the Realme of Scotland from the Reigne of James I.’ The bishop states that when the time of the birth of her child drew near Mary sent for him, and gave him her entire confidence, entrusting to him her will and the inventory of her jewels (Leslie's ‘Narrative of the Progress of Events in Scotland,’ in Forbes-Leith, Narrative of Scottish Catholics, p. 113).
The bishop was one of the members of the privy council who on 20 May 1567 gave instructions for the trial of Bothwell for Darnley's murder. Buchanan credits him with suggesting the seizure of the queen by Bothwell (Hist. Scotl. bk. xviii.) After the seizure he joined Mary and Bothwell in Dunbar (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1566–8, entry 1161), and he was present at the meetings of the privy council on her return with Bothwell to Edinburgh (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 510 et seq.). He, however, affirms that he entirely disapproved of Mary's marriage to Bothwell, and used his utmost persuasions to prevent it (‘Narrative’ in Forbes-Leith, p. 123). He also states that after the marriage Mary came to him in great distress, and expressed sincere repentance and regret (ib.) Leslie continued faithful to her cause. On 12 June he was received by Sir James Balfour into the castle of Edinburgh (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1566–8, entry 1289); but when Balfour, after Carberry Hill, arranged to deliver it to the king's party, he and others were let out by a postern gate (Calderwood, ii. 362). He joined those who, on 29 June, met at Dumbarton to plan measures for the queen's deliverance; but afterwards, ‘all being full of tumult,’ he withdrew to his diocese (Discourse, p. 9). There he remained engrossed in his ecclesiastical duties till Mary, on her escape from Lochleven, summoned him to meet her at Hamilton. He hastened to obey her, but before his arrival her cause had been lost at Langside, and she had fled to England. When Elizabeth agreed to a conference at York with the Scottish commissioners in reference to the charges against their queen, Leslie was summoned by Mary to Bolton to consult about the steps to be taken in her defence. He arrived on 18 Sept., and was appointed her principal commissioner at the conference. His difficult duties were discharged with consummate ability and to the queen's entire satisfaction. The scheme for the Norfolk marriage [see Howard, Thomas, III, fourth Duke of Nor- folk] seems to have originally been set on foot by him and William Maitland of Lethington [q. v.], in order to introduce a disturbing element into the negotiations.
After the conclusion of the abortive proceedings at York and Westminster, Leslie, in February 1569, joined Mary at Tutbury Castle; but shortly after his arrival he and Lord Boyd were arrested and placed in ward in Burton-on-Trent, where he remained till the end of April (Discourse, p. 43). During his absence in England he was deprived of the revenues of his bishopric. Elizabeth at his request desired the regent Moray to permit the bishop's officers to collect the revenues of the bishopric (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1569–71, entry 312); but the request was not complied with, and the bishop was for some time in extreme want, till through the intermediation of Queen Mary he received a grant of money from Spain (Discourse, p. 76). Shortly after being set at liberty from Burton-on-Trent, the bishop was appointed by Mary her ambassador to the queen of England, with the special object of arranging conditions by which she might be set at liberty and restored to her crown; but his secret commission extended much beyond this. He was the chief means of communication between Mary and her supporters in Scotland, and largely engaged in intrigues on her behalf, both with the Scottish nobles and with foreign powers. He also found opportunity to publish under an assumed name at London his ‘Defence of the Honour of Queen Mary,’ in which her original right to the succession to the English throne was maintained.
On Norfolk's first committal to the Tower in October 1569 Leslie was interrogated at length by the council as to his connection with the Norfolk marriage scheme (Haynes, State Papers, pp. 543–4; Cal. Hatfield MSS. p. 432). In his reply he gave a minute account of the negotiations, but added that nothing further had passed between Mary and Norfolk since the previous June than ‘an inclination of favour and goodwill in Mary to agree to what might be most acceptable to her majesty,’ and that no contract existed between them (Haynes, pp. 544–7; Cal. Hatfield MSS. i. 434). On 19 Jan. 1569–70 the regent Moray charged the bishop with being concerned in the rebellion of the north of England (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1569–1571, entry 629). On the 30th Hunsdon wrote to a similar effect (ib. entry 655). He was consequently arrested and confined within the Bishop of London's house in the city for four months (Discourse, p. 84). In March, six weeks after his arrest, he was brought before the council at Hampton Court, when he strenuously denied all connection with the rising. The hope of foreign assistance by which it was encouraged was undoubtedly fed by him, but no definite evidence against him was forthcoming, and he was set at liberty in May. He still continued negotiations for Queen Mary's restoration, and on the second invasion of Scotland by the English forces he contrived to have the papal bull deposing Elizabeth nailed against the Bishop of London's door [see Felton, John, d. 1570]. On the final failure in March 1571 of negotiations for Mary's restoration, he endeavoured to enlist the military aid of the king of Spain (letter of the Bishop of Ross, Simancas MS., quoted in Froude, History, ix. 387–9). The papal agent, Ridolfi, was also employed by him to entice the Duke of Norfolk into the scheme on the promise of Mary's hand (the Duke of Alva to Philip II, 7 May 1571, in Teulet, v. 77–88); but the conspiracy was cut short by the capture in April of Ridolfi's messenger, Charles Baillie [q. v.], at Dover, with copies of the bishop's book in defence of the queen, and with compromising letters to Norfolk, Leslie, and the Spanish ambassador. Baillie managed with the connivance of Lord Cobham to convey the suspected papers secretly to the bishop, who with the aid of the Spanish ambassador hastily replaced them with a set of concocted documents of a faintly compromising kind to be laid before Lord Burghley. Although a full confession of the deception was ultimately wrung from Baillie on 5 May 1571 (letter of Baillie to Lord Burghley in Murdin's State Papers, pp. 11–12; Cal. Hatfield MSS. pt. i. pp. 498–9), Baillie found means of warning the bishop, who at once ‘put in order’ all his papers (Discourse, p. 185). Meantime the bishop had become prostrated by his anxieties, and was confined to bed; but his malady did not prevent his severe interrogation by four members of the council, who entered his house on 13 May. To their demand for explanations (see Articles for the Bishop of Ross in Murdin, p. 13) the bishop, while declining as ambassador to regard himself as accountable to any but his royal mistress, assured them that the utterances of Ridolfi were ‘nothing but an Italian discourse of no moment, nor yet to be taken heed unto’ (Discourse, p. 166; Murdin, pp. 14–15). Notwithstanding his protestations he was carried next day to the house of the Bishop of Ely in Holborn, and was sent to the bishop's country residence in the Isle of Ely on 17 Aug., after the confessions to Barker, Higford, Banister, and others had exposed the whole conspiracy. On 3 Oct. Norfolk was again sent to the Tower, and on the 19th Leslie was taken back to London, where he was at first detained in the house of the lord mayor. His plea of privilege as an ambassador was overruled (document in ib. p. 18). After being brought before the council on 24 Oct. he was sent to the Tower, where he was kept a close prisoner.
On 26 Oct. he made a confession of the main outlines of the conspiracy (ib. pp. 19–32), and on the 31st gave minute explanations of all its main particulars (ib. pp. 32–8; Cal. Hatfield MSS. pp. 555–7). These were supplemented by still further explanations on 2 Nov. (Murdin, pp. 38–40) and 3 and 6 Nov. (ib. pp. 41–55). He himself states that he ‘cunningly extenuated’ the ‘crimes of the other conspirators’ (case of the Bishop of Ross, Harleian Miscellany, ii. 482); but it was nevertheless chiefly on his evidence that the Duke of Norfolk was executed. On 3 Nov. he succeeded in despatching a letter to Queen Mary, which, however, was intercepted, advising that she should write to Elizabeth bidding her reject the statements of her enemies (Murdin, pp. 44–6; Cal. Hatfield MSS. p. 561). Having on 6 Nov. asked permission to write to Mary (Discourse, p. 227), he on 8 Nov. informed her of his confession, and expressed the opinion that the discovery of these designs was intended by God's special providence to warn her and her friends against employing like means for her relief in the future (Murdin, pp. 54–7; Cal. Hatfield MSS. pp. 563–4). On the same day he gave Dr. Thomas Wilson the impression that he was glad ‘that these practices had been brought to light,’ and that he held the worst opinion of Mary's character (Murdin, p. 57). His severe attack on the queen has been accepted by Mr. Froude and others as serious evidence against her, but it is plain that it was mainly made with the aim of securing his liberty. Possibly it produced some impression on Cecil, but he was still retained a prisoner even after Norfolk's execution. In May 1572 an endeavour was made by the king's party in Scotland, who regarded him with bitterest hostility, to obtain his delivery to them in exchange for the Earl of Northumberland (Cal. State Papers, Scott. Ser. pp. 350, 353), and on 13 June the Earl of Mar made similar application on the ground of certain treaties and contracts of peace (ib. p. 356). About the same time, however, the Duke of Montmorency, on behalf of the king of France, was endeavouring to secure his liberty, and Elizabeth compromised the matter by removing him from the Tower to Farnham Castle, the seat of the Bishop of Winchester. (Regarding an inscription by Leslie in the Bloody Tower, see Notes and Queries, 4th ser. v. 174, 266, 372.) In October 1573 he pleaded for his release in a Latin oration, which he sent to Elizabeth. Elizabeth seems to have been favourably inclined to him, and this delicate compliment to her learning did not lessen her esteem. On 11 Nov. he was brought to London, and on the 16th it was intimated to him by the council that he might have his liberty on condition that he left England. In January 1574 he landed in France and proceeded to Paris, where on 24 Feb. he wrote a letter on behalf of Queen Mary to the king of Spain (Teulet, v. 120–1). On the 12th of the same month the Scottish privy council published a declaration against supplying him and other traitors beyond seas with ‘money, finance, counsel, or other aid’ (Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 334). After remaining about a year in Paris, Leslie went to Rome specially to represent the interests of Mary at the papal court. The scheme of capturing the young king and conveying him to a catholic country to be educated, the combination against Morton in 1578 (see especially on this Tytler, Hist. of Scotland, ed. 1864, iv. 19, 20), the mission of Esme Stuart to Scotland, and the consequent accusation and execution of Morton, were more or less traceable to him. His leisure was occupied in writing his Latin history of Scotland, which was published at Rome in 1578. Towards the close of that year he was sent by the pope to visit certain catholic princes of the empire in the interests of Mary Queen of Scots, and also to secure the restoration of certain Scottish monasteries to Scottish monks (letter of the Bishop of Ross to the king of Spain, 8 Feb. 1579, in Teulet, v. 182–3). On the borders of Lorraine he was captured by a protestant noble, and was kept in captivity for twenty-four days, in the belief that he was the archbishop of Rossano, a papal legate (the Duke Don Juan de Vergas to Philip II, 21 Jan. 1579, ib. v. 176–7). He went on to Paris by order of the pope, so as to watch more narrowly the progress of events in Scotland (Bishop of Ross to Philip II, 8 Feb. 1579, ib. p. 182). According to the Archbishop of Glasgow, he had a commission to treat with the Dukes of Lorraine and Guise for receiving the young king of Scotland, and himself had permission to go to Scotland should he think it desirable (ib. pp. 184–6). The death of Atholl on 24 April 1579 for a time shattered the hopes of the catholics. Not long afterwards Leslie was appointed suffragan and vicar-general of the diocese of Rouen.
In June 1587 he was admitted to the benefit of the Act of Pacification in Scotland, but did not comply with the condition requiring a confession of his faith; and on 29 May 1589 an act was passed putting in force former acts against him and others notwithstanding recent remissions (Reg. P. C. Scotl. iv. 388). Nevertheless, on 23 June 1591 an act was passed declaring the tacks and disposition made out of the bishopric of Ross by the exiled bishop since his restitution and the act of 1587 to be valid, all intermediate acts to the contrary notwithstanding (ib. pp. 641–2). During the civil war in France he exerted his influence with great effect in encouraging the citizens of Rouen to hold out against the besiegers in 1591, and as a reward for his services he was appointed by Clement VIII to the bishopric of Coutances in Normandy. On account, however, of the unsettled condition of the country, it was impossible for him to proceed to his diocese, and ultimately he took up his residence in a monastery of Augustinian canons at Guirtenburg, near Brussels, where he died 30 May 1596. Leslie had a daughter, Janet, married to Andrew, fifth laird of New Leslie, and he is also said to have had a second daughter married to Richard Irvine, and a third married to Cruickshank of Tillymorgan. He founded a Scottish college at Paris, and left money to found a college at Douay. There are some old engravings of Leslie. An engraving from an old portrait is prefixed to the Bannatyne edition of his ‘History.’ His portrait is also included in Pinkerton's gallery.
As a catholic political disputant and historian Leslie occupies a somewhat similar position to that of George Buchanan among the reformed party. If not endowed with such brilliant rhetorical gifts as Buchanan, and if destitute of his skill in bitter invective, he was at least his equal in dialectics; he excelled him in legal learning, he was as accomplished an historian, and as a politician and man of affairs he was greatly his superior. His principal work, the ‘History of Scotland,’ was originally written in part in the Scottish language during 1568–70, while he was resident in England, for the perusal of Queen Mary, to whom it was presented in 1571. This Scottish version bears the title, ‘History of Scotland from the death of King James I in the year mccccxxxvi to the yearmdlxi.’ It remained unpublished till 1830, when it was printed by the Bannatyne Club from a manuscript in the possession of the Earl of Melville. The Latin edition of the history extends from the earliest times to the end of the period embraced in the Scottish edition. It bears the title, ‘De Origine, Moribus, et Rebus Gestis Scotorum libri decem: e quibus septem veterum Scotorum res in primis memorabiles contractius, reliqui vero tres posteriorum Regum ad nostra tempora historiam, quæ hucusque desiderabatur, fusius explicant. Accessit nova et accurata Regionum et Insularum Scotiæ, cum vera ejusdem tabula topographica, Descriptio. Authore Joanne Leslæo, Scoto, Episcopo Rossensi. Romæ, in ædibus populi Romani, 1578.’ Copies of the original edition are rare; two are in the library of the British Museum (one with the arms of J. A. de Thou), and one is in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. It was republished in 1675, the old title-page being kept, with the addition ‘Nunc denuo recus. Anno Domini 1675.’ Irving (Lives of Scotish Writers, p. 145) states that this latter edition, ‘said to have been printed in London, contains a dedication to the Earl of Rothes subscribed by a George Lesley.’ There is, however, no evidence that the work was printed in London, nor is the dedication referred to contained in all the copies (the copy in the British Museum does not contain it), and the probability is that the dedication was inserted only in a few copies intended for circulation in Scotland. The earlier part of the work is an epitome of Major and Boece; the description of the counties and islands is, however, to a considerable extent founded on independent observation and information; the latter portion, treating of the period from 1436 to 1562, is not a mere Latin translation of the Scottish version presented to Queen Mary, various corrections, additions, and suppressions being made. It is much more detailed than the earlier part of the work, and is of great value as a catholic account of the events with which the bishop was himself personally acquainted. A Scottish translation of the Latin version by Father James Dalrymple, of the Scottish cloister of Regensburg, dated in 1596, has been printed by the Scottish Text Society, 1884–91, under the editorship of Father E. G. Cody, O.S.B., from a manuscript in St. Benedict's Abbey, Fort Augustus. In the archives of the Vatican there is a Latin manuscript of Leslie containing a meagre narrative of events from 1562 to 1571, and an English translation of this is published in Forbes-Leith's ‘Narrative of Scottish Catholics’ (1885), pp. 84–126. The latter portion (1436–1562) of the Latin version of the history is republished in Jebb's ‘Collections,’ i. 148–236. Other works of Leslie are: 1. ‘A Defence of the Honour of the Right Highe, Mightye, and Noble Princesse Marie, Queene of Scotlande and Dowager of France; with a Declaration as well of her Right, Title, and Interest to the Succession of the Crowne of Englande, as that the Regimente of Women ys conformable to the Lawe of God and Nature. Imprinted at London in Flete Strete, at the signe of Justice Royall against the Blacke Bell, by Eusebius Dicæophile, Anno Dom. 1569,’ 8vo. This work was almost immediately suppressed, and copies are very rare. It was ‘set forth’ after he obtained his liberty from Burton-on-Trent (Discourse, p. 67). It was reprinted in 1571 under the title, ‘A Treatise concerning the Defence of the Honour,’ &c., ‘made by Morgan Philippes, Bachelar of Divinity, an. 1570. Leodii [Liège] apud Gualterum Morberium, 1571.’ The portion dealing with the succession is described as partly a result of ‘the advice of Antonie Broune, knight, one of the Justices of the Common Place, an. 1567.’ Copies of this edition were seized on Charles Baillie. They are scarce, but there is one in the British Museum, and one in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. It is reprinted in Anderson's ‘Collections,’ vol. i. This edition varies considerably from the original one, especially in the references to Elizabeth. According to James Maitland, the first part of this treatise was published in French under the title, ‘Sommaire du livre de Guillaume Stewart, augmenté par Andre Mophat. Monstrant toutes les rebellions commises depuis seize ans et ça en Ecosse avoir este faictes par le feu Conte de Morray pour refaire Roy,’ &c.; and the later part ‘on the Lawfulness of the Regiment of Women’ under the title ‘Discours sur les Affairs d'Escosse,’ &c. Leslie himself published a Latin translation of the part relating to the succession, under his acknowledged authorship. It bore the title, ‘De Titulo et Jure serenissimæ Principis Mariæ Scotorum Reginæ quo Regni Angliæ Successionem sibi juste vindicat, Libellus,’ &c., Rheims, 1580, 4to. This version is republished in Jebb's ‘Collections,’ i. 38–124. An English edition, translated from the Latin, was published in 1584 under the title, ‘A Treatise touching the Right, Title, and Interest of the Most Excellent Princess Marie Queen of Scotland, and of her most noble King James, her Grace's son,’ &c. The addition of King James's name indicated a new attitude of the catholics towards James. Subsequently a French translation by Leslie was published under the title, ‘Du Droict et Tiltre de la serenissime Princesse, Marie Royne d'Escosse, et de tres illustre Prince Iacques VI, Roy d'Ecosse son fils,’ &c., Rouen, 1587, 8vo. The tractate was also published in Spanish. The tract on the ‘Regiment of Women’ was translated into Latin under the title, ‘De Illustrium Fœminarum in Republica administranda, ac ferendis legibus authoritate, Libellus,’ Rheims, 1580, 4to, with a dedication to Catherine de Médicis. 2. ‘Joannis Leslæi Scoti, Episcopi Rossen., pro Libertate impetranda, Oratio, ad serenissimam Elizabetham Angliæ Reginam,’ Paris, 1574, 8vo. This oration was sent to Elizabeth in October 1573. It is reprinted in Nichols's ‘Progresses of Queen Elizabeth,’ vol. iii. 3. ‘Joannis Leslæi Scoti, Episcopi Rossen., libri duo: quorum uno, Piæ afflicti Animi Consolationes, divinaque Remedia; altero, Animi tranquilli Munimentum et Conservatio, continentur. Ad serenissimam Principem D. Mariam Scotorum Reginam. His adjecimus ejusdem Principis Epistolam ad Rossensem Episcopum, et Versus item Gallicos Latino carmine translatos, pias etiam aliquot Preces,’ &c., Paris, 1574, 8vo. The first of these was written while Leslie was in the Tower; the second, written after he received the letter and French verses from the queen, was sent to her on 1 Oct. 1573. The volume was translated by Leslie into French under the title, ‘Les devotes Consolations et divins remedes de l'esprit affligé. Livre premier. Et le Rampart et preservatif de l'esprit tranquille. Liv. 2. Par R. P. en Dieu, Messire Jean de Lesselie Escossois, evesque de Rosse,’ &c., Rouen, 1590, small 12mo. There is added ‘Prieres convenables à tous vrays chrestiens estans en affliction, durant le temps turbulent et calamiteux.’ It contains also a dedication to Charles X of France [cardinal of Bourbon], dated from the ‘Palais Archiépiscopal de Rouen, le 5 Mars, 1590’ (Francisque-Michel, Les Écossais en France, i. 146). 4. ‘Congratulatio serenissimo Principi et illustrissimo Cardinali Alberto Archiduci Austriæ, &c. Per R. in Christo P. Joan. Leslæum, Episcopum Rossensem, Scotum. Subjicitur series continua vitæ suæ per attestationem complurimorum præclarorum et aliorum: Rotomagi, primùm publicâ authoritate in ordinem digesta et ad S. D. M. Clementem Octavum missa anno 1593. Deinde instanti serenissimo principe Ernesto Archiduce Austriæ Belgii gubernatore renovata, et ejus mandato ad sacram Catholicam Majestatem Philippi regis Hispaniarum delata, mense Januario 1595, ut eidem Episcopo in Belgio provideatur,’ Brussels, 1596, 8vo. Reprinted in Anderson's ‘Collections,’ vol. i., and a translation of the life also included in vol. iii. 5. ‘A Discourse contenyinge a perfect Accompt given to the most vertuous and excellente Princesse, Marie Queen of Scots and her Nobility, by John Lesley, Bishop of Rosse, Ambassador for her Highnes toward the Queene of England; of his whole Charge and Proceedings during the time of his Ambassage, from his entrie in England in Septembre 1568 to the 20th March 1572.’ It is dated ‘from the prison called the Bloody-toure within the Toure of London,’ 26 March 1572, and was first published in Anderson's ‘Collections,’ vol. iii. The language was anglicised by Dr. Good, and the probable intention of the bishop was to publish it. 6. ‘Commentaria Diurna Joannis Leslie, Episcopi Rossensis, Legati serenissimæ Marie Scotorum Reginæ in Anglia.’ Published in the ‘Bannatyne Miscellany,’ ii. 117–56, from a Cottonian manuscript in the British Museum (Calig. C. iii. art. 1). 7. ‘The Case of the Bishop of Ross, Resident of the Queen of Scots, who was seized and committed to the Tower,’ &c. Published in ‘Somers Tracts,’ ‘Harleian Society's Miscellany,’ ii. 480–2.
James Maitland, son of William Maitland of Lethington, in ‘An Apologie for William Maitland against the lies and calumnies of Jhone Leslie, Bishop of Ross, George Buchanan, and William Camden as authors’ (Addit. MS. Brit. Mus. 32092, f. 230; see also Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. pp. 429–31), attributes to Leslie among other publications: 1. ‘A little pamphlet in Spanish: Relacion de las casas de Schozia,’ published ‘without any name or date.’ 2. ‘The Copie of a Letter written out of Schotland by an English Gentleman of credit and worship serving ther unto a Friend and Kinsman of his that desyred to be informed of the Trueth and Circumstances of the Slanderous and Infamous Reports maide of the Q. of Schotland at that tyme restreined in manner of Prisone in England,’ published ‘without any name of author, printer, date, or suprascript.’ 3. ‘L'Innocence de la très illustre, très chaste & debonnaire Princess Madam Marie Reyne d'Escosse,’ 1572, republished in Jebb's ‘Collections,’ i. 38–124. Maitland states that all these three were written by Leslie while in England. He also attributes to Leslie ‘Martyre de la Royne d'Escosse, Douairiere de France,’ 1588, usually ascribed to Adam Blackwood [q. v.]
[Life, republished in Anderson's Collections relating to the History of Mary Queen of Scotland, vols. i. and iii.; Discourse, &c., in vol. iii.; Histories of Knox, Calderwood, Buchanan, and Leslie himself; Cal. State Papers, For. Ser., Reign of Elizabeth; Cal. State Papers, Scot. Ser.; Reg. P. C. Scotl. vols. i–iv.; Cal. Hatfield MSS. parts i. and ii. Haynes's State Papers; Murdin's State Papers; Teulet's Relations Politiques; Letters of Marie Stuart, ed. Labanoff; Lord Herries's Memoirs (Abbotsford Club); Sir James Melville's Memoirs (Bannatyne Club); Hist. of James the Sext (Bannatyne Club); Froude's Hist. of England; Histories of Scotland by Hill Burton and Tytler; Life in David Irving's Lives of Scotish Writers; Francisque-Michel's Les Écossais en France, ii. 145–9; Introduction by Father E. G. Cody to Leslie's History of Scotland printed by Scottish Text Soc.]