Levinge, Sir Richard (1656–1724), lawyer and politician, was born 2 May 1656, at Leek in Staffordshire, the second son of Richard Levinge of Parwich in Derbyshire. His father was a barrister and recorder of the city of Chester while his mother, Anne, was a daughter of George Parker of Park Hill, Staffordshire, and aunt of Thomas Parker, lord chancellor of England under George I. He attended Audlem Grammar School in Chester and in 1671 was admitted to St John's College, Cambridge, and to the Inner Temple, London. He was called to the bar in 1678, and became a bencher of Inner Temple in 1706.
In 1686 he became recorder of Chester but in 1688, with the other members of the corporation of the town, he was turned out by James II (qv). He declared early for William of Orange (qv), and was to be identified with moderate toryism to the end of his life. In 1690 he entered the English commons for Derby (sitting until 1695), and in the same year was appointed solicitor general for Ireland. In 1692 he was elected for Blessington to the Irish commons, of which he became speaker. In 1693 he was appointed counsel to the revenue commissioners but he lost favour under Henry Capel (qv), the lord deputy appointed in 1695. Capel dismissed him from his offices, replacing him as solicitor general with Alan Brodrick (qv), and animosity endured long between Levinge and the strongly whig Brodrick clan. He returned to the commons in 1698, sitting for Longford borough until 1713.
In 1699 the English house of commons appointed him one of the commissioners for the forfeited estates, to investigate controversial grants of seized Irish lands by King William to his favourites. This English parliamentary initiative gave rise to apprehensions in Ireland among the many Protestants who had purchased estates from the original grantees and whose tenure might be threatened. Levinge was himself such a purchaser, and it was natural that he should be one of the dissenting minority which dissociated itself from the stronger criticisms of the king in the report of the commissioners. The English commons, angered by the minority report, summoned him on a charge of slandering the majority commissioners, and in January 1700 committed him to the Tower for nearly three months.
In the Irish parliamentary session of 1698–9 he was one of the followers of the 2nd duke of Ormond (qv); on the latter's appointment as lord lieutenant in 1703 he enjoyed new patronage, and was one of the chief parliamentary managers in the sessions of 1703–4 and 1705. In 1703 he was elected chairman of the commons committee of elections and in 1704 was reappointed solicitor general and made a baronet (he had been knighted in 1692). His intensive lobbying of Ormond for a senior judicial appointment in 1705–6 was fruitless, and was probably the cause of a short-lived alienation from his tory allies. In 1709, under the whig viceroy Lord Wharton (qv), he was again dismissed; but on Ormond's return to office he was appointed attorney general in 1711. He sat in the English commons for Derby 1710–11 while in 1713, having been returned for Kilkenny city, he was once again the government's nominee for the speakership of the Irish commons but, in a notable upset, was narrowly defeated by the whig, John Forster (qv).
In 1714 he was replaced as Irish attorney general in the whig purge which followed the accession of George I. He returned to his bar practice, which had been substantial at an earlier period of his life. In 1720 he was appointed lord chief justice of the common pleas and in 1721 was made a member of the privy council. He died 13 July 1724.
Levinge married first in 1680 Mary, daughter of Gawen Corbyn, a linen draper of London, with whom he had five surviving children. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son Richard (1685–1748), MP for Co. Westmeath 1723–7 and Blessington 1727–48. He married secondly, in 1723, Mary, daughter of Robert Johnson, a baron of the Irish exchequer, and Margaret, daughter of Sir Richard Dixon; they had one son. He left estates in Westmeath, Louth, and Parwich, and houses in Westmeath, Dublin, and Parwich.