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George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth

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The Lord Dartmouth
George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth
Admiral of the Fleet
In office
24 September 1688 – 10 January 1689
Lord Lieutenant of the Tower Hamlets
In office
June 1685 – December 1688
Constable of the Tower
In office
June 1685 – December 1688
Governor of Tangiers
In office
September 1683 – February 1684
Master-General of the Ordnance
In office
Member of Parliament
for Portsmouth
In office
February 1679 – February 1685
Governor of Portsmouth
In office
Member of Parliament
for Ludgershall
In office
February 1673 – January 1679
Personal details
Bornc. 1647
Died25 October 1691(1691-10-25) (aged 44)
Tower of London
Resting placeChurch of Holy Trinity, Minories
SpouseBarbara Archbold (m 1667-1718)
ChildrenWilliam (1672-1750); Mary (died 1753); Six other daughters
Alma materKing's College, Cambridge
OccupationNaval officer
Military service
Years of service1667–1689
CommandsHMS Pembroke; HMS Fairfax; HMS Royal Katherine;
Battles/warsSecond Anglo-Dutch War
Four Days' Battle
Third Anglo-Dutch War
Solebay; Schooneveld; Texel
Glorious Revolution

George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth PC (c. 1647 – 25 October 1691) was an English Royal Navy officer and peer who was appointed Admiral of the Fleet by James II of England in September 1688. However, he failed to intercept a Dutch invasion force under William III that landed at Torbay on 5 November 1688 and was dismissed following the Glorious Revolution.

Personal details[edit]

Colonel William Legge (1608-1670)

George Legge was born c. 1647, the eldest son of Colonel William Legge and his wife Elizabeth Washington (c.1616–1688). A close friend of Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Colonel Legge served in the Royalist army during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and was arrested several times during The Protectorate for conspiring to restore Charles II. After the Stuart Restoration in 1660, he was appointed Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance, a position he held from 1660 to 1670.[1]

George's younger brother William (circa 1650-1697) was "a wild, profane creature" who allegedly killed a man while still in his teens.[2] but was elected MP for Portsmouth in 1685. His sister Mary (1647-1715) married diplomat and politician Sir Henry Goodricke (1642-1705).[3]

In November 1667 George married Barbara Archbold (1650–1718), daughter of Sir Henry Archbold of Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire; they had a son, William (1672-1750), and seven girls.[4] His daughter Mary (died 1753) married Sir Philip Musgrave (1661-1689), who served under Legge as Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance from 1682 to 1687.[5]


Educated at Westminster School and King's College, Cambridge, Legge began his naval career during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, when he served as a volunteer under his cousin Admiral Sir Edward Spragge in the 1666 Four Days' Battle. Thanks to these connections, at the age of twenty in April 1667 he was made Captain of HMS Pembroke, a 28-gun fifth-rate, which sank on 11 May following a collision with HMS Fairfax near Torbay.[4]

Despite this inauspicious beginning, he was appointed Groom of the Chamber to the future James II of England in 1669, then given command of HMS Fairfax in January 1672. In late March, he took part in an attack on a Dutch Levant Company convoy in the Channel, which was beaten off by its escort but became an immediate cause of the Third Anglo-Dutch War.[6] In June he fought in the Battle of Sole Bay.[4] The following year he commanded HMS Royal Katherine under Prince Rupert of the Rhine in the Battle of Schooneveld.[4]

By 1683 Legge had risen to be Admiral and he was sent out to Tangier with Samuel Pepys to oversee the evacuation and destruction of the ill-fated English colony there. His last naval appointment was to the command of a fleet in the channel which unsuccessfully attempted to intercept the invasion force led by William III of Orange that landed in 1688 at the beginning of the Glorious Revolution. The same year he was appointed the first Admiral of the Fleet.[7]


Following the abdication of James II, Dartmouth was dismissed by the triumphant William III, and imprisoned in the Tower of London in July 1691. He died in the Tower a few months later, on 25 October,[4] without having been brought to trial, and was buried, as his father had been, in the church of the Holy Trinity, Minories, in London.[4] He was succeeded as Baron Dartmouth by his only son, William Legge, 1st Earl of Dartmouth (1672–1750).[8]


  1. ^ Roy 2004.
  2. ^ Watson 1983.
  3. ^ Watson 2004.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Davies 2004.
  5. ^ Naylor 1983.
  6. ^ Clodfelter 1992, p. 46.
  7. ^ "Naval Ranks NMRN Portsmouth". nmrn-portsmouth.org.uk. The National Museum Royal Navy Portsmouth England. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  8. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBarker, George Fisher Russell (1892). "Legge, William (1672-1750)". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 32. London: Smith, Elder & Co.


External links[edit]

Parliament of England
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Ludgershall
With: William Ashburnham
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Portsmouth
With: Sir John Kempthorne 1679
Richard Norton 1679–1685
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by Governor of Portsmouth
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance
Succeeded by
Preceded by
In Commission
Master-General of the Ordnance
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Tangier
Succeeded by
(re-incorporated into Morocco)
New regiment Colonel of The Ordnance Regiment
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Master of the Horse
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Constable of the Tower
Lord Lieutenant of the Tower Hamlets

Succeeded by
Peerage of England
New title Baron Dartmouth
Succeeded by