BILSON, Leonard (1616-95), of West Mapledurham, nr. Petersfield, Hants.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
bap. 5 Dec. 1616, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Thomas Bilson† of West Mapledurham by Susanna, da. of Sir William Uvedale† of Wickham. educ. Univ. Coll. Oxf. 1632, BA 1635, MA 1637. m. 29 June 1654, Eleanor, da. and coh. of Sir William Lewis, 1st Bt., of Bordean House, East Meon, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) suc. bro. 1652.1
J.p. Hants July 1660-Apr. 1688, 1689-d., commr. for assessment Aug. 1660-80, 1689-90, maj. of militia ft. Nov. 1660, lt.-col. by 1679-?85, sheriff 1672-3, dep. lt. 1689-d.2
Bilson’s family originally came from Germany in the 16th century and settled in Winchester, where they established themselves as brewers. His grandfather became bishop of Winchester in 1597, and purchased West Mapledurham, two miles from Petersfield, in 1605. His father represented Winchester in the Addled Parliament, and later acquired Castle House in Petersfield, which increased the family interest in the borough. He was probably a royalist sympathizer, since he was added to the commission of the peace in 1643, but he avoided commitment during the Civil War. Bilson himself was presumably intended for the Church. He was pricked as sheriff in 1672, but not obliged to serve, and first returned for Petersfield in 1677 at the age of 60. An inactive Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to only three committees of minor importance. He was marked ‘worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list in 1677, and again after his re-election; but he was absent from the division on the first exclusion bill and he remained on the commission of the peace in 1680. This discreet attitude may have been influenced by the grant in 1679 of a small custodian lease of the lands belonging to an outlaw. He was not appointed to any committees in the three Exclusion Parliaments. He did not stand again, making way in 1685 for his son Thomas Bilson. In 1688, in reply to James II’s questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws: ‘he cannot in conscience consent to the two first, and that having made them he will live and die by them’. After the Revolution, he was not only restored to the commission of the peace, but appointed a deputy lieutenant. He died on 10 Dec. 1695 and was buried at Buriton.3