EDGCOMBE (Edgecombe), LEONARD, captain with the HBC; d. June 1696.
Master of the ship John and Thomas, chartered by the HBC, he sailed in 1684 to Charlton Island, the Company’s entrepôt in James Bay.
For the next few seasons Edgcombe’s services were otherwise engaged, but he served the HBC again in 1687, commanding the John and Thomas, with instructions to assist Governor George Geyer at Port Nelson and serve on his council. Edgcombe was cautioned to use extreme care in approaching Port Nelson lest it be in enemy hands, for the Company’s three posts on James Bay had been taken by de Troyes the previous year. Back in England by October 1687, Edgcombe was able to report that the posts at Port Nelson and New Severn were in good condition. He sailed to York Fort in 1688 but by the time the next voyage was due England and France were at war.
He was now taken into the Company’s regular service and by virtue of his faithful record and his “skillfullnesse” in navigation he was chosen in 1689 to command the Royal Hudson’s Bay frigate which set out with the Northwest Fox (Capt. John Ford). The ships got no farther than the Scillies when they were attacked by three French privateers. After an eight- or nine-hour engagement Edgcombe brought his vessel limping back to Plymouth but the Northwest Fox fell prey to the enemy. It was too late that year for ships to reach the Bay so there was no communication with Rupert’s Land for 12 months.
Edgcombe was again in command of the Royal Hudson’s Bay on the 1690 voyage, carrying letters of marque, and on the voyage of 1691 he was designated chief or admiral of the voyage because of his “wonted courage and conduct.” With similar rank he sailed the Dering [III] in 1692, accompanied by three other ships, and also in 1693, when he was warned to destroy the company’s “pacquet” of letters if in danger of seizure by the enemy.
In February 1694 Edgcombe bought the ship Supply from the HBC for £2,200. Two years later, when commanding the East India Company’s Mocha (Mocca) frigate, he met death at the hands of pirates. Their ringleader, James Kelly, alias Gillam, alias Sampson Marshall, was executed in London in 1700 for piracy and was generally considered to be responsible for Edgcombe’s murder.