BANKS, Legh (1666-1703), of Gray’s Inn, Mdx.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
bap. 30 Aug 1666, 4th s. of William Banks I† of Winstanley, nr. Wigan, Lancs. by Frances, da. and event. h. of Peter Legh of Burch Hall, Lancs.; bro. of William Banks II†. educ. G. Inn 1685. unm.1
Burgess, Wigan 1695.2
Banks, whose father had sat for Newton and Liverpool, was a cousin and ‘particular friend’ of Peter Legh† of Lyme, the non-juring patron of Newton. When Legh was accused of high treason in the Lancashire Plot (1693–4) Banks was one of the few persons allowed to visit him in the Tower, and, with the assistance of the Irish informer Taaffe, Banks arranged a meeting with John Lunt, the chief witness against the accused. He persuaded Lunt that he wished to aid him in the conspiracy to take a share of the forfeited lands of the accused plotters, and Lunt revealed to Banks that his allegations were untrue, and that he had forged supposed Jacobite commissions to the alleged plotters. Banks testified against Lunt at the Manchester trials in October 1694, his testimony being vital to the acquittal of the six Catholic gentlemen tried there and to the release of Legh when his case was heard at Chester the same month. On 23 Nov. 1694 Banks repeated his account of Lunt’s fabrications to the Commons’ investigation into the Lancashire Plot. Banks’s key role in Legh’s acquittal prompted Legh to return Banks for Newton in 1695. He was forecast as likely to oppose the Court in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 over the proposed council of trade, and the following day it was reported that he had voted against the imposition of the abjuration oath for members of the new body. Banks was among those who initially refused to sign the Association and his opposition to the ministry continued in March when he voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s., and into the following session when on 25 Nov. he voted against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. Banks did not stand at the 1698 election, following which he was listed as a member of the Country party ‘out’ of the new Parliament. His life came to a premature and unfortunate end in late October 1703 when he ‘unhappily drowned crossing the river [Dee] near Chester’.3