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Friday, June 5, 2009

Leighton, Alexander 1587-1644 or 1649
Alexander Leighton (born 1587 Scotland, died either 1644 or 1649) was a Scottish medical doctor and puritan preacher and pamphleteer best known for his 1630 pamphlet that attacked the Anglican church and which led to his torture by King Charles I.
Early Life
Leighton was born in 1587. The Dictionary of National Biography states that he was descended from an ancient family possessed of the estate of Ulysham (Ulishaven) near Montrose in Scotland. Medical Career
Leighton studied at the University of St Andrews (MA) and Leiden University (MD), where he studied under Professor van Herne. He worked as a medical doctor, but records show that he was prohibited from practice in 1619 and again in 1626. It is unknown whether these judgements were influenced by his religious views, though they predated the publication in 1628 of the pamphlet for which he was tortured.
On 17 September 1619, Leighton was summoned to a censorial hearing, which took place on the 24 September 1619. The charge was that he had caused the death of a patient, along with other crimes which were taken into account. He was found guilty and barred from further practice. The entry read:
"L [Leighton], a Scot & clergyman, had been at Leyden. he claimed to have read all of Galen, especially DE MEDENDI METH"ODO, but was ignorant on Book IX, phlebotomy, & on temperament. He confessed to practice on one Eglesfield's servant (charged by Pattison), but claimed it was cordial alkermes 7 j water & did not cause death. Blamed surgeon Chapman. Promised not to practise further. He also confessed to making up medicines, but denied taking certain fees (e.g. from Mr. Mounson). Many other crimes were taken into account."
He was found guilty and prohibited from practice for a second time on 7 July 1626, when he "confessed to having practiced for 11 years." On the 5 January 1627, he was arrested for debt. Hew wished to be licensed and was asked what he would pay as a fine for previous praction. He reluctantly agreed to pay twenty shillings. After this, he moved to Holland for a period between one and trhee years, during which he published his controversial manuscript.
Religious Controversy
Leighton published his controversial pamphlet Zion's plea against Prelacy: An Appeal to Parliament in 1628 in Holland. In this publication, he criticised the church, and in particular the Bishops who then ruled the Church of Scotland, condemning them as "antiChristian and satanic". He was sentenced by Archbishop William Laud's High Commission Court to public whipping, to having the letters 'SS' branded on him (for 'Sower of Sedition'), and having his ears cut off. Medical records say that, "since he had been censured by the Star Chamber on religious grounds (& had had his ears cropped)", that he should now be 'infamis' in his profession, and he was permanently banned from further practice.
The Star Chamber was used by Charles I as a substitute for Parliament during the eleven years of Personal Rule. He made extensive use of this court to prosecute dissenters, including the Puritans (such as Leighton) using especially brutal punishments. It is the opinion of some that Leighton's persecution and punishment "form one of the most disgraceful incidents of the reign of King Charles I".
Once the warrant for his arrest was issued by the High Commission Court, Leighton was taken to William Laud's house and then to Newgate prison without any trial. He was put in irons in solitary confinement in an unheated and uncovered cell for fifteen weeks, in which the rain and snow could beat in upon him. None of his friends nor even his wife were permitted to see him during this time. According to four doctors, Leighton was so sick that he was unable to attend his supposed sentencing. Durant noted that Leighton also "was tied to a stake and received thirty-six stripes with a heavy cord upon his naked back; he was placed in the pillory for two hours in November's frost and snow; he was branded in the face, had his nose split and his ears cut off, and was condemned to life imprisonment" (Age of Reason Begins, pp. 189-190). He was only released from jail when his son Robert was ordained as a Minister at Newbattle.
In the end, the Star Chamber's sentence was not carried out in full. The Long Parliament released him from prison in 1640, when they cancelled his fine, and paid him 6000 pounds for his suffering. In 1642, Leighton was appointed Keeper of Lambeth House, which had been converted into a prison.
Date of Death
His date of death is disputed. Some sources believe him to have died in 1649, though some sources name the date as 1644.
Leighton was twice married. His first wife and mother of his six children was Scottish. His second wife was the daughter of Sir William Musgrave of Cumberland.
Leighton had four sons — Robert, Elisha, James, and Caleb — and two daughters — Sapphira and Elizabeth. James, Caleb and Elizabeth did not survive to maturity. His son Robert Leighton became Bishop of Dunblane, Archbishop of Glasgow and Principal of the University of Edinburgh. His son Elisha (later Sir Ellis Leighton) (???-1684) was secretary to John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton when he was Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland in 1670 and British Ambassador to France in 1675. Elisha died on 9 January 1684 and his will mentions a daughter Mary. Leighton's daughter Sapphira (sometimes known as Susan) (1623-1704) married Edward Lightmaker of Broadhurst Manor, Sussex.
An Appeal to the Parliament, or Zion's Plea Against the Prelacy. The Sum whereof is delivered in a Decade of Positions. In the handling whereof, the Lord Bishops, and their appurttenances are are manifestly proved, both by Divine and Human Laws, to be Intruders upon the Priviledges of Christ, of the King, and of the Commonwealth: And therefore upon good evidence given, she heartily desireth a judgement and execution.
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An Epitome or Brief Discovery, from the Beginning to the Ending, of the many and great troubles that Dr. Leighton suffered in his body, estate, and family, for the space of twelve years and upwards. Wherein is laid down the cause of those sufferings; namely that book called Zion's Plea Against the Prelacy, together with the warrantable call that he had to the work: and also, the hard and heavy passage of the prelates proceedings against him, in the High Commission, and Star Chamber. And lastly, their envective speeches in the said court of Star Chamber; from the impeachment whereof, and the accusations charged upon him, he vindicates himself by a just defence. - 1646
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Speculum Belli Sacri: or the Looking Glass of the Holy War, wherein is discovered The Evil of War, The Good of War, The Guide of War. In the last of these I give a scantling of the Christian tactics, from the levying of the soldier, to the sounding of the Renai; together with a model of the carriage, both of conqueror and conquered. I have applied the general rules warranted by the Word, to the particular necessity of our present times. - 1624
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