William Legge, 1st Earl of Dartmouth

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The Right Honourable
William Legge
Earl of Dartmouth
1stEarlOfDartmouth.jpg
Secretary of State for the Southern Department
In office
1710–1713
Preceded by The Earl of Sunderland
Succeeded by The Viscount Bolingbroke
Lord Privy Seal
In office
1713–1714
Preceded by John Robinson
Succeeded by The Marquess of Wharton
Personal details
Born 1672
Died 1750
Spouse(s) Anne Finch
Education Westminster School
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge
Religion Church of England

William Legge, 1st Earl of Dartmouth (1672-1750) was Lord Privy Seal from 1713 to 1714.

Life[edit]

He was the only son of George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth, succeeded to his father's barony in 1691. was educated as a town-boy at Westminster School. He subsequently went to King's College, Cambridge, where he graduated M.A. in 1689.[1]

In 1702, he was appointed a member of the Board of Trade and 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.[2] In 1713 he exchanged his offices for that of Lord Privy Seal, which he held until the end of 1714. After a long period of retirement from public life he died on 15 December 1750. Dartmouth's eldest son George Legge, Viscount Lewisham (c. 1703-1732), predeceased his father, leaving a son, William. Another son of the first earl was Henry Bilson-Legge, who later served as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In politics he was a moderate; himself a Tory he was prepared to work with moderate Whigs. He earned the regard of Robert Harley, another believer in moderation; Dartmouth in return remained a loyal friend after Harley's downfall.[3] He also had the confidence of Queen Anne, who praised him as "an honest man."[4] As a Minister though far from brilliant he earned a reputation for competence and hard work. He was also noted for discretion; foreign ambassadors complained that it would be easier to get information from a brick wall. In private life his fondness for laughing at his own jokes led to his nickname "the Jester".[5]

Family[edit]

He married, in July l700, Lady Anne Finch, third daughter of Heneage, first earl of Aylesford; they had six sons.[1] The Dartmouth family lived at Sandwell Hall (since demolished) in the Sandwell Valley.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Barker 1892.
  2. ^ "London, Sept. 6". The Newcastle Courant: with News Forreign and Domestick (British Newspaper Archive). 8–10 September 1711. Retrieved 1 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ Hamilton, Elizabeth. "The Backstairs Dragon- a life of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford. Hamish Hamilton: London, 1969
  4. ^ Gregg, Edward. Queen Anne (2nd ed.) Yale University Press, 2001
  5. ^ Hamilton, The Backstairs Dragon
Attribution

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBarker, George Fisher Russell (1892). "Legge, William (1672-1750)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 32. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Sunderland
Secretary of State for the Southern Department
1710–1713
Succeeded by
The Viscount Bolingbroke
Preceded by
John Robinson
Lord Privy Seal
1713–1714
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Wharton
Peerage of England
Preceded by
George Legge
Baron Dartmouth
1691–1750
Succeeded by
William Legge
Peerage of Great Britain
New title Earl of Dartmouth
1711–1750
Succeeded by
William Legge