LEGGE, William I (c.1608-70), of The Minories, London.
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Family and Education
b. c.1608, 1st s. of Edward Legge of Geashill, King’s Co. by Mary, da. of Percy Walsh of Moyvalley, co. Kildare. m. lic. 2 Mar. 1642, ‘aged 26’, Elizabeth (d. 14 Dec. 1688), da. of Sir William Washington of Packington, Leics., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1616.1
Cornet (Dutch army) 1627; capt. of ft. (Swedish army) by 1632; lt.-gen. of artillery 1639-40; maj. of cuirassiers (royalist) 1642-4; col. of ft. 1644-6; gov. Chester 1644, Oxford 1644-5; capt. of ft. June 1660-d.; lt.-gov. Portsmouth 1662-d.2
Master of the armouries 1636-46, June 1660-d.; groom of the bedchamber 1645-7, June 1660-d.; lt. of the Ordnance June 1660-d.3
Commr. for excise, Oxon. 1645; asst. R. Adventurers into Africa Dec. 1660-d.; commr. for assessment, Westminster 1661-4, Hants and Oxon. 1664-9; keeper, Alice Holt and Woolmer forests, Hants 1661-d.; freeman, Portsmouth 1662, commr. for corporations, Hants 1662-3, loyal and indigent officers, Westminster 1662, woodward, Chute forest, Wilts. 1663-d.; j.p. Mdx. 1666-d.4
Legge was descended from a Protestant family of London origin which settled in Ireland under the Tudors. A professional soldier, he fought in the Protestant cause in the Thirty Years’ War, returning to England as an expert in fortifications, and taking part in the second army plot against Parliament in 1641. He served with distinction in the Civil War under Rupert. He was allowed to attend Charles I in captivity as groom of the bedchamber, and accompanied him on his flight to the Isle of Wight; but unlike John Ashburnham and Sir John Berkeley he ‘never fell under the least imputation or reproach’ for its disastrous consequences. ‘He was a very punctual and steady observer of the orders he received, but no contriver of them’, according to Clarendon; ‘and though he had in truth a better judgment and understanding than either of the other two, his modesty and diffidence of himself never suffered him to contrive bold counsels.’ In February 1649 he compounded at £40 for his delinquency, but he was captured at sea in July on a mission for the new King and imprisoned until 1653, when he was allowed to go into exile. Returning to England in 1658, he became an active royalist conspirator, and was again imprisoned after Booth’s rising.5
At the Restoration Legge was made lieutenant of the Ordnance, which brought him in £2,000 p.a., and granted leaseholds in Ireland worth about £500 p.a. An award of £2,000 on the Irish customs was still unpaid at his death. On the Duke of York’s recommendation, he was elected at Southampton in 1661, and became a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament. He was appointed to 96 committees, acted as teller in five divisions, and was five times sent as a messenger from the Commons to the King. In the opening session he helped to consider the uniformity bill and to manage the conference on the Lords’ proposal that all municipal charters should be called in. During the autumn recess he went to Ireland, but he returned in time to be sent by the House on 22 Nov. to ask the King for the return of the remaining regicides to the Tower, and to be appointed to the committees for the execution bill and for the relief of loyalists. He was among those ordered to provide remedies against nonconformist meetings in 1663, and in the same session he acted as teller against making a retrospection in the bill to prevent abuses in the sale of offices for an immediate grant of supply, and for the additional bill to recover arrears of excise. In 1664 he was listed as a court dependant, and named to the committees for the conventicles bill and the additional corporations bill. He attended the Oxford session, and was appointed to the committee for the five mile bill. The ordnance office was not exempt from criticism during the second Dutch war, all the more so because Legge was widely suspected of Popery. He produced his accounts to the House on 26 Sept. 1666, and was appointed to the committee to bring in a bill to prevent the embezzlement of powder and ammunition. He was teller for an unsuccessful motion on 11 Oct. to increase the estimates by £54,000. He was among those sent to the King with an address on behalf of the merchants trading with France on 29 Jan. 1667 and to Rupert and Albemarle after the fall of Clarendon with a vote of thanks for their services. He was named to the committees on the bill for uniting parishes in Southampton (11 Mar. 1668), the bill to prevent electoral abuses (8 Dec. 1669), and the conventicles bill (2 Mar. 1670). He died on 14 Oct. 1670, in his 63rd year, and was buried at Holy Trinity Minories.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. Collins, Peerage, iv. 107, 109, 114; Foster; London Mar. Lic. 835.
- 2. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), ix. 118; Collins, iv. 110-11, 113; E. Peacock, Army Lists, 15.
- 3. Foedera, ix. pt. 2, p. 86; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 75; 1671-2, p. 59.
- 4. W. H. Black, Docquets of Letters Patent, 263; CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 409; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 357, 365; HMC 11th Rep. III, 55; Collins, iv. 114.
- 5. HMC Ormonde, n.s. v. 9; CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 590; 1639-40, pp. 134, 167; 1649-50, p. 235; Whitelocke Mems. i. 134-5; Clarendon, Rebellion, iii. 131; iv. 266; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1583; Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 294; D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy, 218, 259.
- 6. CSP Dom. 1666-7, p. 467; 1667, p. 207; 1671, p. 88; CSP Ire. 1660-2, pp. 261, 639, 661; Adm. 2/1745, f. 31; CJ, viii. 311, 486, 501, 532; ix. 6; Pepys Diary, 13 June 1667; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1650-78, p. 144.