LEITH, Alexander (1741-80), of Burgh St. Peter, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1774 - 1780

Family and Education

b. 1741, s. of Alexander Leith (commander of the artillery at the siege of Havana, and killed there 1762) by Anne, wid. of John Milet of co. Antrim.  m. (1) Margaret, da. of Thomas Hay, Lord Huntington, S.C.J., and wid. of one Wren, s.p.; (2) 1 Mar. 1775, a da. of Gen. Sir John Cope, K.B., 2s.  cr. Bt. 21 Nov. 1775.

Offices Held

Lt. and fireworker R.A. 1759; 1st lt. 1764; entered service of E.I. Co. 1768; lt.-col. 88 Ft. 1779 ‘without permanent rank or half pay’.1


In 1774 Tregony was at the disposal of the Treasury, and as late as 6 Oct., four days before the election, North named to Robinson three possible candidates for the second seat, though not Leith; but because of ‘the shortness of time’ he left Robinson to settle matters, assuring him that he would be satisfied with his decision.2

The Public Ledger wrote in 1779 that Leith had voted ‘with Lord North, from whom he got his baronetage; but last year he wheeled about to the minority. He is a man of which both sides are very shy.’ Two speeches of his are reported in 1778, sharply attacking the Government: the first, 27 Jan., on Burgoyne’s expedition, followed by his voting with the Opposition;3 the second, thus reported by Walpole:4

Sir Alexander Leith ... who had gone into virulent Opposition on being refused to be sent to Madras, and had a very bad character, abused Lord George Germain in the grossest terms, and told him he was not fit to serve the King.

In 1779, as lieutenant-colonel of the 88th Foot, he was sent out to the West Indies, and consequently was absent from the divisions of February-May 1780. Robinson wrote against Tregony in his survey for the general election of 1780: ‘Sir Alexander Leith will certainly not come in for this place.’

Leith died in Jamaica, 3 Oct. 1780, while commanding an expedition against Nicaragua.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Ms note in Army List, WO Lib.
  • 2. Laprade, 24-25.
  • 3. Almon, vii. 320; Walpole, Last Jnls. ii. 94.
  • 4. Last Jnls. ii. 106.