Bishop John Leslie’s son, Charles Leslie (1650-1722), was an Irish clergyman, who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary, in 1689. He spent much of his life in self-imposed exile because of his controversial viewpoints. Despite his opposition to Roman Catholicism, Leslie was a staunch supporter of the Stuart claim to the throne. He was a prolific writer whose tracts opposed the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and supported the Jacobite Uprising of 1689. He condemned the slaughter of the MacDonalds at Glencoe (1692), along with William and Mary for allowing it. His political and religious involvement is exemplified by the publications displayed here. The Jacobite’s Hopes Reviv’d (1710), attributed to Benjamin Hoadly, is a negative response to Leslie’s controversial pamphlet The Good Ol’ Cause (1710), where he attacked the Whigs, who in turn responded with pressure for his arrest. Leslie evaded arrest and responded to Whig attacks with “The Rehearsals” written under the pseudonym “Philalethes,” or “Lover of Truth.”
“A gentleman, who held one of the highest positions in the court of the late Queen, and who is a zealous Jacobite, has assured me positively that three months ago, M. de Marlborough held a secret correspondence with the Pretender. He confirmed this to me this morning and when I affected doubt, he repeated it several times in the affirmative to the point of telling me through which channels the letters passed and which he received. He added finally that he had run a great risk of being sent to the Tower in the beginnings of the Pretender’s campaign…”
The above passage is a translated (from the French) and decoded excerpt from this Jacobite intelligence letter, one of a series written by Charles D’Iberville, then French Ambassador to England. These letters contain encoded information about the movements of known Jacobites; a secret correspondence between the Duke of Marlborough and the Old Pretender; comments on the positions of Jacobite strongholds; and discussion of opportunities for a Jacobite uprising. While the letters do not refer directly to any Leslies, they demonstrate the precarious and dangerous climate in which Charles Leslie publicly commented on the political state of Scotland.