DACRE, Leonard (by 1533-73), of Naworth, Cumb. and West Harlsey, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1533, 2nd s. of William, 3rd Lord Dacre of Gilsland, by Elizabeth, da. of George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury; bro. of Francis and Sir Thomas. unm.1

Offices Held

Comr. gaol delivery, Carlisle 1554; dep. warden, west marches by Aug. 1558; j.p. Cumb., Yorks. (N. Riding) 1558/59-64.2


Leonard Dacre can have needed no other argument than his lineage to support his claim to the knighthood of the shire, but his connexions were many and varied. His near kin included his brothers-in-law Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland, and Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu. He had received some part of his education in the household of the 1st Earl of Bedford.3

Apart from his Membership of three Parliaments, Dacre’s public career was focused on the borders, under the leadership of his uncle the 5th Earl of Shrewsbury. From the summer of 1557 he and his father were immersed in preparations for the expected Scottish invasion. On 11 Oct. 1557 the Privy Council wrote to Shrewsbury approving their presence ‘for the better service on the borders’ even though they should properly have been in London to answer a lawsuit. The suit in question was presumably that brought for the recovery of a debt of £2,000 by Alderman William Hewitt of London against the Dacres and Bertram Anderson. Leonard Dacre may also have been involved in litigation over the Strangways inheritance, for which a private Act (35 Hen. VIII, no. 24) had been obtained in 1544, presumably the Act of which the repeal was unsuccessfully sought in 1547: he was in possession of the Strangways lands from 1549. By August 1558 he was in charge of the west marches during his father’s absence and in the next few months he received several letters of approval and thanks. The last such letter, of January 1559, while thanking him for what he had done against the Scots, expressed some regret that he had been so forward, preferring that he should ‘stand only upon his own guard’. In the same year he sued out a general pardon as Leonard Dacre late of Harlsey, late of Carlisle.4

Dacre was judged ‘no favourer of religion’ in 1564 and he numbered among his relations many of the most prominent Elizabethan Catholics, but it was his failure to establish his claim as heir male on the death of his nephew, George 5th Lord Dacre, and the passing away of the inheritance, which provoked his abortive rebellion in 1570 and led to his exile, first in Scotland and then in the Netherlands. He died at Brussels on 12 Aug. 1573 and was buried, as Lord Dacre, at the church of St. Nicholas there.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. CP; DNB.
  • 2. CPR, 1554-5, p. 106; 1560-3, pp. 435, 437; 1563-6, pp. 20, 22; APC, vi. 373, 423.
  • 3. CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 201.
  • 4. APC, vi. 183, 322, 373, 384, 387, 388, 394, 396, 406, 417, 423, 425; vii. 41; HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 46, 54, 55, 75, 344-5; LP Hen. VIII, xix; CJ, i. 3; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 119; 1601-3, add. 1547-65, p. 533; CPR, 1558-60, p. 246.
  • 5. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 71.