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Q: London writers circa 1600 AD ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: London writers circa 1600 AD
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: pope-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 07 Feb 2003 22:33 PST
Expires: 09 Mar 2003 22:33 PST
Question ID: 158730
Looking for a London writer, Alexander Leighton circa 1600 AD. Can you
identify this individual and his writings particularly with reference
to Shakespeare?
Subject: Re: London writers circa 1600 AD
Answered By: grimace-ga on 08 Feb 2003 03:31 PST

An interesting question about a man who was "a Scot by birth, a doctor
of physic by profession, a fiery Puritan in faction".

First, a brief biography of Leighton. Born in 1587 in Scotland,
Leighton was first a physician before becomeing a full time Puritan
preacher and pamphleteer. He rose to infamy after publishing 'Zion's
Plea Against Prelacy: An Appeal to Parliament' in 1630, during the
decidedly Anglo-Catholic reign of Charles I, This was an attack on the
the bishops which caused outrage in the church. He was sentenced by
Archbishop Laud's High Commission Court to public whipping, to having
the letters 'SS' branded on him (for 'Sower of Sedition'), and having
his ears cut off and his nostrils slit. Leighton finally died in 1644.
With rather delicious irony, Leighton's son Robert went on to becomne
an Archbishop himself.

As for his writings, and his connection with Shakespeare - there is a
frustrating lack of concrete evidence here. Unsurprisingly, given what
happened to Leighton, the majority of seditious pamphlets were
published anonymously. If Leighton did publish other works, we won't
know for sure that they were written by him.

However, one pamphlet which has been attributed to Leighton may have a
Shakespearean connection. 'A Short Treatise against Stage-Playes',
published in 1625, "a brief and exceedingly businesslike enumeration
of the chief arguments against the drama", is attributed to our man in
the British Library catalogue, and is given as the author in the 1973
Garland Publishing edition (see below). Unfortunately, I haven't been
able to find a synopsis of the book online other than the fact that
"in [its] twenty-eight pages may be found the whole gist of [fellow
puritan William Prynne's] Histriomastix." The latter book contains a
single reference to Shakespeare, that "Shackpeers Plaies are printed
in the best Crowne paper, far better than most Bibles."

All references in the above paragraph from 
The Puritan Attack upon the Stage (see for reference to our man)

Having said all that, of course, it seems unlikely that Leighton, a
London-based Puritan activist, would not have been aware of
Shakespeare's plays and active in the controversy surrounding the
morality of the stage which was such a hot topic in Puritan circles in
Stuart England, leading finally to the closing of all theatres in

I hope this is of use to you and that the links below can spread
further light on Leighton and his times.

Archbishop Laud

The High Commission Court

National Portrait Gallery: Alexander Leighton Portrait

The Puritan Paradox,3605,650895,00.html

Robert Leighton

If you need any more information, please ask for clarification.


Clarification of Answer by grimace-ga on 08 Feb 2003 03:41 PST
One more thing - I mentioned a 1970s edition of 'A Short Treatise
Against Stage Plays'. It's out of print now, of course, and I can't
find a copy at the usual out-of-print online booksellers. The only
listing to be found is here:

Find Out of Print Books

but, alas, the page is just a list of OOP books rather than a
bookseller's catalogue.

There are references (with brief quotes) to the Treatise on these

Secrecy and Reflexivity in Henry Chettle’s The Tragedy of Hoffman

Censorship and Representation in The Stuart Era

Hope this is useful, 


Request for Answer Clarification by pope-ga on 08 Feb 2003 08:26 PST
Robert Leighton 

This reference concerns Robert Leighton. How is he related to Alexander Leighton?

Thank you


Clarification of Answer by grimace-ga on 08 Feb 2003 08:50 PST
Robert Leighton was Alexander's son. See about halfway down the page:
"...he had seen his father, a medical doctor, suffer terrible hardship
resulting from his father's authorship of the book 'Zion's plea
against Prelacy'".

Hope everything else is clear, 

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