Anthony St Leger (British Army officer)

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Major-General Anthony St Leger (1731/32 – 19 April 1786) was a successful soldier, a Member of Parliament for Grimsby, and the founder of the St. Leger Stakes horse race.

Born in February 1731 at Grangemellon, County Kildare, Ireland, he was the fourth son of Sir John St Leger (1674–1743), who was a judge of the Court of Exchequer (Ireland), and his second wife Lavinia, daughter of Kingsmill Pennefather of Cashel, County Tipperary.[1] He was educated at Eton College. He attended Peterhouse, Cambridge,[2] before embarking on a career in the army. His brother Barry St. Leger was also a distinguished army officer. They belonged to the junior branch of a long established landowning family from County Cork: the head of the senior branch was Viscount Doneraile.[3]

In 1761, St Leger married a Yorkshire woman, Margaret Wombwell. That same year he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 124th Regiment of Foot, but a year later the regiment disbanded, and St Leger took on the Park Hill estate in Firbeck, where he later bred and raced horses.

From 1768 to 1774, St Leger sat as MP for Grimsby. Two years after leaving the Commons, and with the assistance of Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, he established a two-mile race for three-year-old horses, on the Cantley Common in Doncaster. This was to become the St. Leger Stakes.

In 1779, St Leger re-entered the army as colonel of the 86th Regiment of Foot. He subsequently achieved the rank of brigadier general, before serving a period as the Governor of Saint Lucia. His last posting was in Ireland, by which time he was a major general.

St Leger died on 19 April 1786. He was buried in Saint Anne's Church, Dublin.

In addition to giving his name to the St Leger Stakes, the St Leger Arms public house in Laughton en le Morthen (two miles up the road from the Park Hill estate) is also named after Anthony St Leger.


  1. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221–1921 London John Murray 1926 pp. 192–3
  2. ^ "St Leger, Anthony (ST750A)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Ball p. 83
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Joseph Mellish
The Lord Luxborough
Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby
With: Joseph Mellish
Succeeded by
Joseph Mellish
Francis Evelyn Anderson