Ledrede (Leatherhead), Richard (c.1265–1360/61), bishop of Ossory, was an English Franciscan with no connection to Ireland before his provision to the see by John XXII. His origin is unknown, but some evidence indicates that he was born in Somerset. He was already a Franciscan when he was ordained a deacon (1297) by the archbishop of Canterbury. Presumably, he was educated by his order; he seems to have been resident in Avignon in 1317. His later activities show an overwhelming concern with theological correctness and an obsession with witchcraft and heresy that indicates he had spent a long time in Avignon. He was provided to Ossory in April 1317 and consecrated in Avignon, arrived in Ireland in September 1317, and held a synod of his diocese within a month. Texts preserved in the Red Book of Ossory and some sixty poems, showing Provençal influences, suggest that his main interests lay in the administration of his diocese and theology. His edifying Latin hymns were meant as a counter-measure to the ‘vile, secular songs’ (NHI, ii, 711) in which his clergy displayed too great an interest.
He was the first bishop to reside in Kilkenny, and started construction of the bishop's palace as well as completing work on St Canice's cathedral. His obsession with heresy caused him to believe that his diocese was overrun with heretics, and led to the trial of Alice Kyteler (qv) for witchcraft in 1324. The trial brought him into conflict with members of the Anglo-Irish magnate community, most notably Arnold le Poer (qv), seneschal of the liberty of Kilkenny, who went so far as to imprison the bishop (March 1324), for which he was excommunicated by Ledrede for protecting heretics. A temporary peace was created in the parliament of 1324, but the two men remained bitter enemies. Ledrede openly accused le Poer of heresy (1328), and le Poer was imprisoned while the charges were investigated. Ledrede went further and accused the chancellor, Roger Outlaw (qv), prior of Kilmainham, of heresy for protecting le Poer, but Outlaw was cleared of the charges in January 1329.
Ledrede's actions alienated both Outlaw and his own metropolitan, Alexander Bicknor (qv), archbishop of Dublin, whom Ledrede later accused of plotting to murder him at the parliament of January 1329. He was summoned to Dublin to account for his actions, and the temporalities of his diocese were seized, but he fled to England hoping for a more favourable hearing. He fled again to Avignon when summoned to account for himself before the king, and was well received at the curia. Edward III relented and was prepared to allow him to return in May 1331, but Bicknor and Outlaw refused to let him back into Ireland. During his absence, Bicknor held the first metropolitan visitation to Ossory in decades (1335). Bicknor's enmity kept Ledrede in exile till 1347, when Ossory was removed from the metropolitan jurisdiction of Dublin for Bicknor's lifetime. Ledrede was pardoned by the king and returned to Ireland in autumn 1347; his diocese was restored to Dublin after Bicknor's death (July 1349). His pardon was revoked when he refused to let a tax be collected in his diocese, but he was pardoned again in 1355 and confined his interests to his diocese and the restoration of his cathedral.
In 1358 John Thoresby, chancellor of England and archbishop of York, wrote to the king requesting Ledrede's removal and replacement by William Charnells, bishop of Ferns, on the grounds that extreme age kept him from fulfilling the duties of his office. The request was ignored, but Ledrede died soon after in 1360/61, and was buried in the chancel of St Canice's cathedral.