(Sheriff of Kent)

Born: 1544/5, Knole, Kent, England

Died: 20 Sep 1615, Chevening, Kent, England

Buried: 21 Sep 1615, St. Botolph, Chevening, Kent, England

Father: John LENNARD (High Sheriff)

Mother: Elizabeth HARMON

Married: Margaret FIENNES (5° B. Dacre of the South) 16 Nov 1564


1. Henry LEONARD (Sir Knight)


3. Gregory LEONARD


5. Thomas LEONARD

6. Margaret LEONARD

7. Elizabeth LEONARD

8. Frances LEONARD


Sampson was eldest son of John Leonard of Chevening, near Tunbridge Wells, born about 1545. Sampson was admitted a member of Lincoln's Inn on 9 May 1564, by 'special admission'. In all the documents he signed "Samson", but in Lord Dacre's writings, and indeed in almost every reference to him, his name is spelt with a 'p'.

In 1563, the Darrells approached John Lennard about making a match between Mary and his son, Sampson. Mary Darrell (b. ABT 1545 - d. AFT 1594) was the daughter of Thomas Darrell of Scotney, Kent and Mary Roydon (b. ABT 1525 - d. AFT 1591). Mary seemed agreeable and Lennard approved of her and a pre-contract was arranged. By Bartholomewtide, however, Lennard had heard rumors that Mary was to wed someone else. When he questioned the Darrells about this, they denied it. They admitted that she had another suitor, one Barnabe Googe of Gooche (b. 11 Jun 1540 - d. 7 Feb 1593/4), who had been writing poems to her, but insisted that there was no “secret enticement”. The case was submitted to arbitration by Archbishop Parker of Canterbury. He removed Mary from her parents’ house and made her a ward of the court while the matter was decided. To the dismay of both the Darrells and the Lennards, the archbishop decided in favor of Master Googe, to whom Mary was wed on 5 Feb 1564. They had eight children: Matthew (b. 1566 - d. 1624), Thomas (b. 1568), Barnabe, William, Henry, Robert, Mary, and Francis
Sampson married Margaret Fiennes, dau. of Thomas Fiennes, third Baron Dacre of the South, by his wife, Lady Mary Neville. Camden, in his 'Britannia', speaking of the death of her bother Gregory Fiennes, Lord Dacre, says: 'whose sister & heir Margaret, Sampson Lennard, a person of extraordinary worth & civility, took to wife, and by her hath fair issue'. They had a considerable family. Lord Dacre speaks of there being eight children, but his copy from the parish registers of Chevening and Sevenoaks shows there to have been ten baptized in those churches; according to the inscription on Sampson's tomb there were in all seven sons, of whom Henry, Gregory, and Thomas survived him; and six daughters, of whom five survived.

In the reign of Elizabeth Sampson was High Sheriff of Kent from Nov 1590 to Nov 1591; and he was elected a member of several Parliaments: in 1586 for St. Maws; in 1588 for the borough of Christchurch, Hants; in 1592 for St Germans; in 1597 for Rye; in 1601 for Liskeard ; and in 1614 for the county of Sussex.

In 1586 he appears to have wished to be elected for Southampton, as among the archives of that borough there is the following letter from a Mr. William Butler to the Mayor of that place:

'Oct 12, 1586. Mr Maior I have become an earnest sutor to you to have your favour & furtherance to make choyse of a Friende of mine to be one of your burgesses of your Towne in this parliament. The gentleman is a very sufficient man, and if you make your election of a burgess, that is noe Townesman, you can not make choyse of a better, his name is Mr. Sampson Leonarde, dwelling in Kent, but yf yt please you, & the rest of your aldermen to grante me my sute, ye shall heare of him at my house at all times when you shall have cause to use him, who is a very sufficient gentleman in any matter for your Towne, & myself shall thinke myself greatly beholding to you...'

In 1588, when the Spanish Armada of Felipe II of Spain was launched against England, Sampson take his part in repelling the invader. Among the list of the 'chief captains' in the different counties of the kingdom, the name of Sampson appears in the list for Kent with fifty light horse; and eight years later, when Spain again appeared to be likely to attack England, on 10 Nov 1596, very careful preparations were made to guard the Medway from foreign aggression. A carefully thought-out system for sending the first alarm of the enemy's approach was adopted; a chain of stations was establishcd whence signals were to be sent one to the other by beacon fires and gun firing, and places which were so situated as to be beyond reach of these signals were to be warned by means of hoblers' sent from Rochester by the Deputy Lieutenants. The Mayor of that town was to send notice to Sir J. Leveson, Thomas Walsingham, Mr. Style, Mr. Mayor of Maidstone, Mr. Lennard, and Mr. Rivers, and each of these captains was to give notice to the rest. On 12 Nov these captains were to repair to Upnor Castle with 1,080 men, and there be distributed in the five ships next the chain.

The following letter from a Mr. Rowland Whyte to Sir Robert Sidney shows that Sampson was active in doing magisterial work in his neighbourhood, and is also somewhat interesting, illustrating as it does the necessity that existed then, as now, for members of Parliament to conciliate their supporters:

'...Euen now Mr. Lovelace of Kent came vnto me & desired me to procure hym some answer from your Lordship to a letter he sent you; yt is about a Colt he says is vnduly detained from hym in Oteford park. His sute unto you is that you will direct your Lettre to Sir Thos Walsingham, Sir John Lcvison, Mr Leonard, Mr Sidley or any two of them to examine thc cause. I promised to write vnto you about yt for he is one of them that gaue you his voice in the Election, and I haue thanked hym for yt...'

There are in the British Museum two letters from Sampson to a Mr. Hicks; I have not been able to identify the 'most vnhappye kynsman,' on whose behalf the following of these letters was written, which are addressed:

'To the Worshipful my very lovyng frend Mr Michael Hicks
Good mr Hicks I vnderstand by my brother how much we are all bound vnto yov for your frendship in procuryng the reprie of my most vnhappye kynsman for the wch I most heartylye thank yov. By a lamentable letter sent vnto me this nyght from some sisters of myne that remayne ther I am informed that the Quene hath lately sent Mr Wade to the Kyng of Portyngall to require hym to leave his sute for Raulins (?) and that she is purposed the law shall haue his course for his execution, wch if it be true We have small hope our kynsman shalbe spared, I beseech yov affourd your best helpe at this pinche and I shall never forgett your kyndnes but ever be redye to requite to the vttermost of my power. And so wt my most harty commendations in hast I leave yov

Knoll this xvij of May 1592.
Your very lovyng frend

In the second letter, also dated from Knole, but some two years later, Sampson expresses a hope that Mr. Hicks 'wyll one day gett leasure to cum wt your bedfellow to Knoll where you... shall fynd the best welcome I can giue you'.

Within a few years of his father's death in 1590, Sampson received a very considerable addition to his fortune by the death of his brother-in-law, Gregory Fiennes, Lord Dacre. The estates which came to Sampson through his wife by Lord Dacre's death were those of Herstmonceux, and many others which were settled upon her.

Sampson survived his wife about three years, dying in Sep 1615. At some period after his wife's death he appears to have transferred most of his property to his eldest son, as, in an undated draft of a letter concerning the Norfolk property, he says: 'I have departed with the greatest part of my estate to my sonne Dacre'.

Sampson and his wife lie buried under a remarkably fine tomb in Chevening Church, upon which are their life-size effigies, with the following inscriptions:

'Gloriosum Domini nostri Jesu Christi adventum expectans hic requiescit Sampson Lennard armiger, una cum charissima uxore Margareta Baronissa Dacre (sorore et proxima haerede Gregorii Fienes militis Baronis Dacre de le South) cui 47 annos, 4 menses, et supernumerarios aliquot dies, conjugali vinculo ligatus, suaviter et beate vixit; suscepitque ex eadem 7 filios, Henricum, Baronem Dacre, Gregorium, et Thomam superstites, reliquis quatuor in infantia extinctis, et 6 filias quarum una periit infantula quinque supersunt; Pietatis, comitatis, hospitalitatis, laude celebris et in commune bonus, praepropera nobilissimae uxoris morte ampliorem Regis gratiam anticipante, honore primogeniti filii Baronis Dacre de le South, diplomate illustrissimi Regis Jacobi decoratus, anno aetatis 71, ineunte salutis 1615, Sept. 20. ex hac vita migravit'

On the other side:

'Margaretae Fynes, Baronissae Dacre, Filiae Thomae Baronis Dacre, Filii Thomae Fienes militis, Filii Thomae Baronis Dacre, Et Annae uxoris ejus filiae Humfridi Bourchier Militis, filii Johannis, Baronis Bourchier de Berners, filii Gulielmi Bourchier comitis Essexiae et Ewe, et Annae uxoris ejus, filiae Thomae de Woodstock, Ducis de Glocestriae; ex materna stirpe filiae Mariae, filiae Georgii Nevile Baronis de Bergaveny, fiii Edwardi Nevile, Baronis de Burgaveny, filii Radulphi Nevile comitis Westmorlandiae, et Johannae uxoris ejus filiae Johannis de Gaunt Ducis Lancastriae. Amoris et honoris ergo posuit charissimus, idemque moestissimus conjux, quem cum felici prole beasset, exemplarque pietatis in Deum, obsequii in maritum, charitatis in pauperes, humanitatis in omnes, supra sexum exhibuisset; tandem die Martii 10, anno Salutis 1611, aetatis 70, cum summo bonorum omnium desiderio; Supremum Spiritum libens lubensque Patri Spiritum, exhalavit.'

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