Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Henry Leek
MSA SC 3520-17415

Biography:

Henry Leek Jr., the son of Henry and Elizabeth Leek, resided in Montgomery County from his birth to his death. He was the middle son of seven siblings; Avis (a half sister from their father’s previous marriage), Mary, Joseph, Obed, Ann, Gordon, and Lucy.

The Leek family lived in Frederick County, on a plot of land named "Leek's Lot" that is now near the town of Laytonsville, Maryland, a area which became Montgomery County in 1776. Henry Leek Sr. owned 325 acres of land, placing the family in about the top quarter of landowners. The Leeks were active within their church community. Both Leek, his father, and his brother Joseph, constituents of the Anglican Prince George’s Parish, signed a petition around 1760. This would lead to the erection of a chapel of ease, built to serve the members of a parish who lived too far to easily access the main church, near the Hawlings River and Leek’s Lot. After his death in late 1779 or early 1780, Henry Leeke Sr. left one acre of his land to the Hawlings River Chapel. [1]

Leek originally enlisted on January 29, 1776 into the First Maryland Regiment and was a corporal within Captain Patrick Sim’s Second Company at the time of the Battle of Brooklyn (otherwise known as the Battle of Long Island) on August 27, 1776. Although the battle was a defeat for the Americans, the valiant defense by Leek and the other soldiers of the “Maryland 400” held off the British long enough to allow much of the trapped American army to escape. Leek survived that day, his company losing fewer than ten men. [2]

After the Battle of White Plains, the Battle of Trenton, and the Battle of Princeton, Leek was one of many from the original regiment who chose to reenlist on December 10, 1776. Although he had initially been a corporal by the time he re-enlisted he was a private, but was promoted soon after to sergeant on April 17, 1777. After the reestablishment of a restructured First Maryland Regiment, these Marylanders went on to participate in every main battle fought by the Continental Army until 1780, including the battles of Staten Island, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth.  [3]

In these battles, the new recruits to Maryland’s forces were provided with a hardened core of veterans (those from the Maryland 400 who chose to reenlist) that were able to provide them with stability, strength, and the experience of prior confrontations. This helped with the campaign of 1777, where the First Maryland Regiment acted as a crucial aspect of Washington’s offensive force. Throughout the next three years Leek continued to serve the Continental Army alongside his fellow Marylanders, also acting as a guard for General Charles Lee for some time in the fall of 1778. After serving for the full three year term that many of the Maryland soldiers signed up for, Leek was discharged on December 10, 1779. [4]

Following his service, Leek returned to his home in Maryland. He was never able to achieve much economic stability in the years to come. He had received 44 acres of land from his father, but sold the land in 1785 to Beal Gaither for £75. The rest of Leek’s Lot was divided between Henry’s mother, Elizabeth, and his brothers Joseph and Obed. By 1793, Henry Leek was only in possession of £11 worth of personal property. Leek’s only known income after the war came from both state and Federal pensions in which he was paid as compensation for his services during the war, beginning to receive them in 1817 and 1818 respectively amounting in approximately half the pay of a sergeant. [5]

Leek died around the spring of 1820, and his body was buried in Brown Cemetery in Sandy Spring, Maryland. It is unknown if Leek had a wife or children, although it is unlikely that he did. [6]

In late October of 1911, a marker was placed over his grave by the Janet Montgomery Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to honor his time during the Revolutionary War. [7]

-Taylor Blades, 2017

Notes:

[1] Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1758-1761, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 56, p. xxxii, 506; Mary Gordon Malloy., Jane C. Sween, and Janet D. Manuel. Abstracts of Wills of Montgomery County, Maryland, 1776-1825. (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1977), 83; David Curtis Skaggs, Roots of Maryland Democracy, 1753-1776 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973), 43.

[2] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 7.

[3] Archives of Maryland Online , vol. 18, p. 131; Mark Andrew Tacyn “’To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), p. 3.

[4] Tacyn, 115, 117; Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War. NARA M881, from Fold3.com.; Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 131.

[5] Deed, Henry Leek to Beal Gaither, 1785, Montgomery County Court, Land Records, Liber C, p. 129-131 [MSA CE 218-5]; Montgomery County Commissioners of the Tax, Assessment Records, 1793, p. 119 [MSA C1110-1, 1/18/14/17]; Montgomery County Commissioners of the Tax, Assessment Record, 1798, p. 37 [MSA C1110-2, 1/18/14/18]; Assessment Records, 1804, p. 267-268 [MSA C1110-2, 1/18/14/18]; Maryland General Assembly Session Laws of 1816, Resolution no. 39, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 635, p. 233.

[6] Index to Final Pension Payment Vouchers, NARA, from Fold3.com; Pension Roll, 1811-1843, Treasurer of the Western Shore, p. 25 [S613-1, 2/63/10/33]; "Historical Markers." Janet Montgomery Chapter, NSDAR.

[7] “Squad from Company A Attend Ceremonies: Erect Marker to Maryland Soldier,” The Evening Post (Frederick, Maryland), 11 October 1911. 

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