Sir Richard Leveson was named after his godfather, and cousin, Sir Richard Leveson of Lilleshall – who was one of Elizabeth I’s admirals. The admiral died without children and Richard inherited although his claim was contested by the Curzon family. In 1613 he also inherited his elder brother’s estates in Kent. The family was troubled by debts and contested inheritances so Richard was not particularly wealthy. Following his mother’s death he sold off his Kent estates and made Lilleshall his home.
In 1629 he married, against the advice of his friends, Katherine Dudley the daughter of Robert Dudley who abandoned his family in 1605 when the Star Chamber concluded that his father the Earl of Leicester and his mother Douglas, Lady Sheffield had not been married. Poor Katherine was tarnished with the potential slur of illegitimacy herself as her father had declared himself to be clandestinely married to Frances Vavasour when he married Katherine’s mother. Nor did it help that Dudley’s estates, inherited from the Earl of Leicester, were confiscated by the Crown and that Sir Robert Sidney and his family claimed the lands by right of legitimate inheritance. When the matter was resolved he and Katherine were able to build a fine Manor House at Trentham outside Stoke. Trentham like Lilleshall had once been a monastic property. His and Katherine’s home was replaced by a Georgian building in 1690.
In November 1640 Leveson was elected to Parliament where he was initially neutral but eventually came to support the cause of Charles I. He was a cavalry commander and sat in the Oxford Parliament. During this time he and his brother-in-law Robert Holbourne persuaded the king to re-examine the Dudley case which resulted in his mother-in-law Alice Dudley being recognised as Duchess Dudley and his wife the place of a duke’s daughter. Lilleshall Abbey was eventually taken by Parliamentarian forces in 1645 and Leveson found himself imprisoned in Nantwich where his health suffered. In the aftermath of the wars he was forced to pay fines for his support of the royalist cause. When he drew up his will he arranged for trustees to look after his wife’s interest and for his nieces to inherit after her death. He died in 1661 and is buried in Lilleshall Church.