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WILLIAM LEGGE (c. 1609-1670)

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 839 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM LEGGE (c. 1609-1670), the eldest son of Edward Legge (d. 1616), vice-president of Munster, gained some military experience on the continent of Europe and then returning to England assisted Charles I. in his war against the Scots in 1638. He was also very useful to the king during the months which preceded the outbreak of the Civil War, although his attempt to seize Hull in January 1642 failed. During the war Legge distinguished himself at Chalgrove and at the first battle of Newbury, and in 1645 he became governor of Oxford. However, he only held this position for a few months, as he shared the disgrace of Prince Rupert, to whom he was very devoted; but he was largely instrumental in putting an end to the quarrel between the king and the prince. Legge helped Charles to escape from Hampton Court in 1647, and after attending upon him he was arrested in May 1648. He was soon released, but was again captured in the following year while proceeding to Ireland in the interests of Charles II. Regaining his freedom in 16J3, he spent some years abroad, but in 1659 he was once more in England inciting the royalists to rise. Legge enjoyed the favour of Charles II., who offered to make him an earl. The old royalist died on the 13th of October 167o. Legge's eldest son, GEORGE, BARON DARTMOUTH (1647–1691), served as a volunteer in the navy during the Dutch war of 1665-1667, and quickly won his way to high rank. He was also a member of the household of the duke of York, afterwards James II.; was governor of Portsmouth and master-general of the army; in 1678 he commanded as colonel the troop at Nieuport, and in 1682 he was created Baron Dartmouth. In 1683 as " admiral of a fleet " he sailed to Tangiers, dismantled the fortifications and brought back the English troops, a duty which he discharged very satisfactorily. Under James II. Dartmouth was master of the horse and governor of the Tower of London; and in 1688, when William of Orange was expected, James II. made him commander-in-chief of his fleet. Although himself loyal to James, the same cannot be said of many of his officers, and an engagement with the Dutch fleet was purposely avoided. Dartmouth, however, refused to assist in getting James Edward, prince of Wales, out of the country, and even reproved the king for attempting this proceeding. He then left the fleet and took the oath of allegiance to William and Mary, but in July 1691 he was arrested for treason, and was charged with offering to hand over Portsmouth to France and to command a French fleet. Macaulay believed that this accusation was true, but there are those who hold that Dartmouth spoke the truth when he pro-tested his innocence. ` Further proceedings against him were prevented by his death, which took place in the Tower of London on the 25th of October 1691. Lord Dartmouth's only son, WILLIAM, ISt EARL OF DART-MOUTH (1672–1750), succeeded to his father's barony in 1691. In 1702 he was appointed a member of the board of trade and foreign plantations, and eight years later he became secretary of state for the southern department and joint keeper of the signet for Scotland. In 1711 he was created viscount Lewisham and earl of Dartmouth; in 1713 he exchanged his offices for that of keeper of the privy seal, which he held until the end of 1714. After a long period of retirement from public life he died on the 15th of December 1750. Dartmouth's eldest son George,viscount Lewisham (c. 1703-1732), predeceased his father. Other sons were : Heneage Legge (1704–1759), judge of the court of exchequer; Henry Legge (q.v.), afterwards Bilson-Legge; and Edward Legge (1710-1747), who served for some time in the navy and died on the 19th of September 1747.
End of Article: WILLIAM LEGGE (c. 1609-1670)
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