Bishop John Lesley

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Lesley, John, Bishop of Clogher, was born in Scotland towards the close of the 16th century. He is described as a very learned and accomplished man, who resided on the Continent for many years, and was high in favour with Charles I. In 1633 he was translated from the see of Orkney to that of Raphoe. By an expensive law-suit he retrieved some of the alienated emoluments of the diocese; and also built a "stately palace" for himself and his successors, contriving it for strength as well as beauty. On the breaking out of the war in 1641, he took an active part for the King, and at times evidenced in "action as much personal valour as regular conduct." The Bishop raised and manned a foot company at his own charge, and bravely defended his palace at Raphoe against Cromwell's forces. Ware says: "He declared then against the Presbyterian as well as the Popish pretences for religion; aDd would neither join in the treasons nor schism of those times, but held unalterably to the practice as well as the principles of the Church of England."

In 1661, after the Restoration, he was translated to Clogher. "He was a person of great temperance, and was so great a stranger to covetousness that he hardly understood money... He wrote on the Art of Memory, and several other curious and learned treatises; which were designed for the publick, but were all destroyed, with his library of many years' collection, and several manuscripts which he had gathered in foreign countries, partly by the rapine of the Irish, and partly by King William's army in 1690, long after his death." He died at Glaslough in the County of Monaghan, in September 1671, "aged 100 years or more,"[118] and was there interred in the parish church."

Sources

118. Ecclesiae Hiberniae Fasti: Rev. Henry Cotton: Indices by John R. Garstin, M.A. 5 vols. Dublin, 1851-'60.

339. Ware, Sir James, Works: Walter Harris. 2 vols. Dublin, 1764.

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