Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/431

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Le Hart
Leicester
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work met with a favourable reception. The description of a remarkable didine bird, the solitaire, and the detailed accounts of a certain stone which it swallowed, and of its curious habits, were received with some incredulity, even by Buffon; but since 1864 the excavations in the caves of Rodriguez, carried out under the direction of Sir Edward Newton, have brought to light singular confirmation of Leguat's recorded observations, and although the bird itself has been extinct over a century, Professor Alfred Newton of Cambridge and Sir Edward his brother have constructed an admirable, though not entirely perfect, restoration of the skeleton of the bird. Leguat settled in England as a British subject, and from a notice in the 'Bibliothèque Britannique' (v. 524), 1735, it appears that he died at the beginning of September in that year, in London, at the age of ninety-six years, having preserved to the end a 'grande liberté de corps et d'esprit.' He seems to have been unmarried.

[Continuation of Bayle's Nouvelles de la République des Lettres, December, 1707; Biographie Universelle, art. ‘Leguat;’ Un Projet de République à l'Ile d'Eden (l'Ile Bourbon) en 1689, par le Marquis Henri du Quesne. Réimpression d'un ouvrage disparu, par Th. Sauzier, Paris, 1887; Voyage of François Leguat, Hakluyt edition, 1891.]

S. P. O.

LE HART, WALTER (d. 1472), bishop of Norwich. [See Lyhert.]

LEICESTER, Earls of. [See Beaumont, Robert de, 1104–1168; Montfort, Simon de, 1208–1265; Dudley, Robert 1532?–1588; Sidney, Robert, 1595–1677.]

LEICESTER, LETTICE, Countess of (d. 1634). [See under Dudley, Robert, 1632?–1588.]

LEICESTER of Holkham, Earl of. [See Coke, Thomas William, 1752–1842.]

LEICESTER, Sir JOHN FLEMING, first Lord de Tabley (1762–1827), art patron, born at Tabley House, Cheshire, 4 April 1762, was eldest son of Sir Peter Leicester, by his wife Catherine, coheiress of Sir William Fleming of Rydal, Westmoreland. The father's name was originally Byrne, being the son of Sir John Byrne, bart., and of Merial, only child of Sir Francis Leicester, third baronet, the grandson of Sir Peter Leycester [q. v.] the antiquary; he took by act of parliament his mother's name of Leicester in 1744, and came into possession of the Leicester family estates in Cheshire; he was a man of taste, was patron of Wilson, Barret, and other well-known artists, and erected a fine house at Tabley, in which he placed pictures by his favourite artists. The son, John Fleming, was well instructed in drawing by Marras, Thomas Vivares (son of Francis Vivares the engraver), and lastly by Paul Sandby. On the death of his father in 1770 he succeeded to the baronetcy and estates. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he proceeded M. A. in 1784, and afterwards travelled much on the continent. In Italy about 1786 he met Sir Richard Colt Hoare [q. v.] and they spent much time together in sketching and visiting the chief galleries of art in France and Italy. Many of Leicester's sketches, chiefly landscapes, together with some finished pictures in oil of a later date, are still at Tabley House, and, though not highly finished, have considerable merit. He also executed a set of lithographic prints from his own drawings of landscapes, birds, fishes, &c. One of an osprey shot at Tabley and another of the head of a Persian sheep are interesting examples. They were only circulated privately and are all rare. On returning to England Leicester determined to devote his fortune and energy to the promotion of an English school of painting and sculpture which fashion had up to that time decreed to be impossible. He gradually collected many fine examples of British art in a gallery in his London house in Hill Street, Berkeley Square, and from April 1818 onwards the public was frequently admitted to view the collection. Leicester's example, with that of his friends Hoare and Walter Ramsden Fawkes [q. v.], the patron of Turner, largely contributed to a change of taste in artistic circles, and to the extension of a discriminating patronage to the British school. In 1805-6 he aided Sir Thomas Bernard in the foundation of the British Institution for the Encouragement of British Art. 'Annals of the Fine Arts' for 1819 was dedicated to him. He was honorary member of the Royal Irish Institution and the Royal Cork Society of Arts.

Leicester was also much interested in music and in natural history, especially in birds and fishes. Shortly before his death, he projected with his friend William Jerdan [q. v.] an elaborate 'British Ichthyology.' He was also noted as one of the best pistol shots of his time.

Meanwhile, Leicester had paid some attention to politics. He was elected M.P. for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, in 1791 , for Heytesbury, Wiltshire, in 1796, and for Stockbridge, Hampshire, in 1807. In parliament he supported the prince regent, and soon became one of the prince's intimate friends. He acted as lieutenant-colonel of the Cheshire militia, and after thirteen years' service was appointed colonel of a regiment of cavalry