Anthony St Leger (Lord Deputy of Ireland)

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Arms of Sir Anthony St. Leger, KG

Sir Anthony St Leger or Sellenger, KG (c. 1496 – 16 March 1559) of Ulcombe and Leeds Castle, Kent, was an English politician and Lord Deputy of Ireland during the Tudor period.

Early life[edit]

Anthony St Leger was the eldest son of Ralph St Leger of Ulcombe, Kent, and Isabel or Elizabeth Haute, the daughter of Richard Haute (d. 8 April 1487) by Elizabeth Tyrrell, widow of Sir Robert Darcy (c.1420 - 2 November 1469) of Maldon, Essex, and daughter of Sir Thomas Tyrrell (d. 28 March 1477) of Heron in East Horndon, Essex.[1][2] He was educated abroad and at the University of Cambridge.[3] He quickly gained the favour of King Henry VIII, and in 1537 was appointed president of a commission of enquiry into the condition of Ireland. In the course of this work, he obtained much useful knowledge of the country. In 1539 he was knighted and appointed Sheriff of Kent.

Lord Deputy[edit]

On 7 July 1540, Anthony was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland and tasked with the repression of disorder. He moved against the Kavanaghs, permitting them to retain their lands only by accepting feudal tenure on the English model. By a similar policy he exacted obedience from the O'Mores, the O'Tooles and the O'Conors in Leix and Offaly; and having conciliated the O'Briens in the west and the Earl of Desmond in the south, he carried an act in the Irish parliament in Dublin conferring the title of King of Ireland on Henry VIII and his heirs. Conn O'Neill, who had remained sullenly hostile, was forced to submit.

St Leger's policy was generally one of moderation and conciliation—more so than Henry VIII wished. He recommended The O'Brien, when he gave token of a submissive disposition, for the title of Earl of Thomond; O'Neill was created Earl of Tyrone; an administrative council was instituted in the province of Munster; and in 1544 a levy of Irish soldiers was raised for service in Henry VIII's wars. St Leger's personal influence was proved by an outbreak of disturbance when he visited England in 1544, and the prompt restoration of order on his return some months later. St Leger retained his office under Edward VI, and again effectively quelled attempts at rebellion by the O'Conors and O'Byrnes. From 1548 to 1550, Anthony was in England, and returned charged with the duty of introducing the reformed liturgy into Ireland. His conciliatory methods led to his recall in the summer of 1551. After the accession of Queen Mary he was again appointed Lord Deputy in October 1553, but a charge of keeping false accounts caused him to be recalled for the third time in 1556. He died while the accusation was still under investigation, by which time he had been elected (in 1559) Member of Parliament for Kent.[4]

Private life[edit]

Leeds Castle

As a man St. Leger seems to have been quarrelsome and unpopular : certainly he was on very bad terms with other leading figures in the Dublin administration, particularly John Alan, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and George Browne, the Archbishop of Dublin. Following complaints by St. Leger, Alan was removed from office and although he was later reinstated the two men found it impossible to work together.[5] The Archbishop accused St. Leger of treasonable words, giving Alan as his source, but the charge came to nothing when Alan, perhaps surprisingly, refused to confirm the report.[6] When St. Leger gave high military command to James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond, he was accused by allies of Alan of deliberately endangering Ormond's life, and Ormond's mysterious death from poisoning in London in 1546 was, at the least, extremely convenient for St. Leger.

By his wife Agnes, daughter of Hugh Warham, a niece of Archbishop William Warham he had at least five sons and two daughters.

He was granted possession of Leeds Castle in 1552.


  1. ^ Richardson III 2011, pp. 216-17, 481.
  2. ^ Robertson 1893-95, pp. 70-1.
  3. ^ "Sentleger, Anthony (SNTR496A)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ "ST. LEGER (SELLENGER), Sir Anthony (c.1496-1559), of Ulcombe and Leeds Castle, Kent.". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 2012-05-09. 
  5. ^ O'Flanagan J Roderick Lives of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland London 1870
  6. ^ O'Flanagan Lives of the Chancellors
  7. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol.1 p.225



See also[edit]

According to the Irish Genealogical Office, Kildare Street, Dublin, Sir Anthony St Leger KG held office as the King's Deputy (Lord Deputy) in Ireland for five not three terms as commonly held. His terms of office were as follows :

1st term: 7 July 1540 to 10 February 1544 2nd term: 3 July 1544 to 1 April 1546 3rd term: 7 November 1546 to 21 May 1548 4th term: 4 August 1550 to 23 May 1551 5th term: 1 September 1553 to 26 May 1556

See also

  • Calendar of State Papers relating to Ireland, Hen. VIII-Eliz.
  • Calendar of Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII.
  • Calendar of State Papers (Domestic Series), Edward VI-James I
  • Calendar of Carew Manuscripts
  • J O'Donovan's edition of Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters (7 vols., Dublin, 1851)
  • Richard Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors (3 Vols., London, 1885–1890)
  • JA Froude, History of England (12 vols., London, 1856–1870).

For Sir William St Leger, see:

  • Strafford's Letters and Despatches (2 vols., London, 1739)
  • Thomas Carte, History of the Life of James, Duke of Ormonde (6 vols., Oxford, 1851)
  • History of the Irish Confederation and the War in Ireland, edited by J. T. Gilbert (Dublin, 1882–1891).
Political offices
Preceded by
The Viscount Grane
Lord Deputy of Ireland
Succeeded by
Edward Bellingham
Preceded by
Lord Justices
Lord Deputy of Ireland
Succeeded by
James Croft
Preceded by
Lords Justices
Lord Deputy of Ireland
Succeeded by
The Lord FitzWalter
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Thomas Cheyney
John Baker
Member of Parliament for Kent
With: Thomas Kempe
Succeeded by
Henry Sidney
Sir Henry Cheyne