Charles Lesley

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Lesley, Charles, Rev., second son of preceding, was born in Ireland about the middle of the 17th century; educated at Enniskillen, and admitted a fellow-commoner of Trinity College in 1664. There he continued till he commenced M. A. He then entered the Temple and studied law. In 1680 he took orders, and seven years afterwards became Chancellor of the Cathedral of Connor. He engaged in several public disputations, notably with the Catholic Bishop of the diocese, "which he performed to the satisfaction of the Protestants and the indignation and confusion of the Papists," though, as usual, both sides claimed the victory. He opposed the claims of the Catholics during James II.'s sojourn in Ireland, but steadily refused to take the oaths to King William and Queen Mary; for this he was deprived of his preferments, and he became the virtual head of the non-juring party. An able and interesting Answer to Archbishop King's State of the Protestants in Ireland, printed anonymously in London in 1692, is attributed to him. He followed James II. to France, and we are told took much pains to convert him to Protestantism.

Returning to Ireland in 1721, he died 13th April 1722,[124] at his house at Glaslough in Monaghan. Dr. Johnson said that "Leslie was a reasoner, and a reasoner who was not to be reasoned against." Concerning his legal abilities Hallam writes: "Leslie's case of the Regale and Pontificate.. is full of enormous misrepresentation as to the English law. Leslie, however, like many other controversialists, wrote impetuously and hastily for his immediate purpose." Macaulay says of him: "His abilities and his connexions were such that he might easily have attained high preferment in the Church of England. But he took his place in the front rank of the Jacobite body, and remained there steadfastly through all the dangers and vicissitudes of three-and-thirty troubled years. Though constantly engaged in theological controversy with Deists, Jews, Socinians, Presbyterians, Papists, and Quakers, he found time to be one of the most voluminous political writers of his age. Of all the non-juring clergy he was the best qualified to discuss constitutional questions, for before he had taken orders he had resided long in the Temple, and had been studying English history and law, while most of the other chiefs of the schism had been poring over the Acts of Chalcedon, or seeking for wisdom in the Targum of Onkelos."


16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

34. Biographie Générale. 46 vols. Paris, 1855-'66. An interleaved copy, copiously noted by the late Dr. Thomas Fisher, Assistant Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin.

124. Encyclopaedia Britannica. London, 1860.

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

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