Thomas Leonard was third lieutenant of the Porpoise, a man-of-war of the British Navy. He became the de facto captain of the ship after an infectious disease killed the captain and several senior officers. He was killed in a hurricane that destroyed the Porpoise.
Little is known about Thomas Leonard, other than his later stint as a captain of the Porpoise.
Events of the NovelsEdit
After disease has ravaged the Porpoise and left nineteen-year-old Thomas Leonard to captain the ship, the encounter with the Artemis seems a godsend. Leonard requests the assistance of their surgeon, if they have one, and he is surprised to find that their surgeon is a woman, one Claire Malcolm. He recovers quickly and begs support for his ailing crew, and Mrs. Malcolm is brought aboard. In desperation, Captain Leonard orders that the Porpoise resume her journey, effectively taking Mrs. Malcolm captive. Though she is indignant, Mrs. Malcolm is left with no recourse but to treat the sick after identifying the cause as typhoid fever.
The next day, a seaman named Harry Tompkins informs Leonard that the supercargo of the Artemis, Mrs. Malcolm's husband, is in fact the notorious smuggler and seditionist James Fraser. Leonard records the information in the ship's log, but later regrets doing so in light of the great service Mrs. Malcolm/Fraser has done for the crew in treating the sick and slowing the spread of disease.
One day, when Claire enters his office, she startles him awake and he begins to call her 'Mrs. Fraser', but catches himself and quickly changes it to 'Mrs. Malcolm'. She doesn't appear to notice, and asks him for more alcohol and fresh air in the sick bay. A bell rings, summoning Captain Leonard to take a navigation reading, and he apologizes that he must leave. Just before he does, Claire asks him how old he is. He replies that he is 19 years old and leaves the room, asking Claire to wait.
During the night, Mrs. Malcolm/Fraser manages to jump ship before the Porpose can make landfall. However, with the more pressing responsibility of getting the new governor safely to port, Leonard does not devote resources to recovering her. When the Artemis makes port at Kingston Harbor, they see the Porpoise at anchor.
A group of rebellious slaves of the Yallahs River swarm aboard the ship Bruja, taking it for their escape. Succeeding in reaching the open sea, they are spotted and pursued by the Porpoise, on watch for any such attempt.
Unskilled in navigation and seamanship, the slaves manage to reach Hispaniola, but – panicked by the Porpoise pursuing them – they run the Bruja aground. The man-of-war fires its guns on the wreck and its fugitives; fleeing slaves disappear into the jungle, while others are blown to bloody fragments on the sand.
The melee takes place some distance from the Frasers' rendezvous, but they cannot escape unseen. Their only hope is to run for it, and with luck the Porpoise will be delayed sufficiently by its engagement. However, with the Bruja destroyed, the man-of-war seeks other prey.
Fleeing before a rising wind, the smaller boat is more agile and manages to stay ahead of the Porpoise for some time. But they cannot outrun the man-of-war, especially with the increased winds filling the larger ship's sails.
More than bad weather is in store; the greenish sky and howling wind portend a Caribbean hurricane. In the maelstrom, the Porpoise is swamped; losing her topmast, she heels over and is dragged down, with the loss of all hands – including her captain.
Although young, Thomas displayed persistence and a sense of duty when he became captain. He also demonstrated a great degree of high-handed desperation when he kidnapped Mrs. Malcolm, forcing her to attend to the sick and dying crew.
Thomas was thin-faced, though whether by nature or as a result of a trying four weeks on board a plagued ship, it is unclear. He had the stained teeth and furred tongue of a tobacco chewer.
- Thomas is a Greek form of the Aramaic name תָּאוֹמָא (Ta'oma') which meant "twin".
- Leonard means "brave lion", derived from the Germanic elements levon "lion" and hard "brave, hardy".