St. Leger family

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the family. For other uses, see Saint-Léger (disambiguation).

The family of St. Leger (/ˈsɛlnər/ SEL-in-jər) (Latinized to De Sancto Leodegario) is an old Anglo-Irish family with Norman and German roots ( Leodegar, Ludger, that transformed into Selinger, Sellinger) going back over a thousand years, and whose name has appeared more than a few times in history. It is first recorded in England as lord of the manor of Ulcombe in Kent. John St Leger (died 1441) of Ulcombe was Sheriff of Kent in 1430.


The surname St. Leger is recorded in several forms[1] This name can be described as French, but is originally of Germanic origins. The name ultimately derives from the pre-7th-century Old German personal name Leodegar, composed of the elements liutr (tribe), and gari (spear). St. Leger, a 7th-century martyr and bishop of Autun, contributed to the popularity of the name in France, while in Germany the name was connected with a different saint, Ludger, an 8th-century bishop of Münster.

The name was introduced into England by the Normans in 1066 – it is actually said that Robert St. Leger (Selinger) assisted Duke William from his boat, prior to the battle of Hastings (1066) – and is first recorded in the Cartulary of Battle Abbey (Kent) in the early 12th, and in Pipe Rolls 1192 (Hampshire). The surname was introduced into Ireland in the 12th century following the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, where it achieved considerable status. Early examples of the surname recording include Sir Anthony de Saint Leger, Knight of the Order of the Garter who brought Ireland under the Crown. He served as Viceroy of Ireland for five terms. A plaque dedicated to Sir Anthony Saint Leger can be found in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

William Ledger and Elizabeth May were married at St. Margarets, Westminster, London, on April 25, 1595. The first recorded spelling of the family name is possibly that of Adam Leger, which was dated 1279, in the Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire, during the reign of Edward I of England.

The English and Irish family can trace it origins back to Robertus de Villapari vel. de Sancto Leodegario (also known as Sir Robert de Saint Leger, a Norman knight who arrived as part of the Norman Conquest of 1066. His son, Ralph De St. Leger fought at the Battle of Hastings. Sir Robert had stigmata.

Several generations of St. Legers fought in the Crusades. Lord Jean St. Leger (1160–1216) 'lived mainly on his French lands in Normandy whilst his brother Wizo cared for the lands at Fairlight in Sussex. As a result of his feudal duties, he accompanied the French King Philip August on his conquest of Normandy, placed thus in a bad position, in reprisal the English King confiscated his English lands and arrested him on reconquering Normandy. Jean was held prisoner at Corfe Castle in Dorset for many years. The Barons revolt allowed the St. Leger family to offer ransom/release aided by the English Master Templar Roger St. Leger on 30 Aug 1216. Lord of Fairlight.'

The Christian name Jean runs in the French St. Leger family. Another, Sir Jean De St. Leger, accompanied Robert, Duke of Normandy on the First Crusade 1096. Another St. Leger rode with Philip Augustus in Palestine in 1191. A map of Jerusalem 1099–1147 during the times of the Crusades, shows a "Leger's Pool" just outside Damascus Gate. Geoffrey De St. Leger fought with Richard I of England in Palestine from 1186 to 1201 or 1202. He was present at the siege of Acre in 1187.[citation needed] Ralph St. Leger, Lord of Ulcombe also took part in the siege of Acre in 1187.. His tomb still exists in Ulcombe Church. He returned to England around 1201. As his son carried the same name (and title), there are confusions but a Ralph St. Leger was a signatory to Magna Carta in 1215.

Another Jean St. Leger was a Benedictine and Abbot of the Abbey of St. Wandrille, France, during the 14th century. Bishop Thomas St. Leger 1240–1320 was the Archdeacon of Kells around 1275 and is said to have raised money for the Crusades.

In 1377, Thomas St. Leger, (the second son of Sir Ralph St.Leger, of Ulcombe), who resided at Otterden, became owner of East Hall Manor in Murston. His daughter was Joane, who then married Henry Aucher, esquire of Newenden.[2]

Sir Thomas Saint Leger was a Knight of the Order of the Bath and Ambassador to France. He along with Louis XI and others signed the treaty of Pecquigny, ending the Hundred Years War. He married Anne Plantagenet, Duchess of Exeter. Upon Edward IV of England's death in 1483, St. Leger was beheaded by Richard III of England. He and Anne, who had died giving birth to their only child, Anne St. Legers, are buried in The Roos Chapel, St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Their daughter married Sir George Manners, of the family of the Duke of Rutland. Their tomb (Sir George Manners) can be found in the Queen's private chapel in St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

Another St. Leger of historical importance was Gen. Anthony St. Leger. He was born in 1731 probably in Kildare, Ireland. He was one of a group of noblemen and gentlemen who in 1778 gathered for a private dinner party in an upper room of the Red Lion Inn which stands in the market square in Doncaster. A horse race which was to set the pattern for classic racing throughout the world had been christened the St. Leger at the suggestion of Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham. The race, a sweepstake for three-year-olds, had been born two years earlier in 1776, at the suggestion of Lt. Col. (later Major-General) Anthony St. Leger and ran for the first time over a two-mile course on Cantley Common in Doncaster. The classic race, The St. Leger has been run at Doncaster ever since.

Most St Legers in the UK today descend from Sir Anthony St. Leger KG of Ulcombe, Kent. The Viscounts Doneraile whose seat was in Doneraile Co. Cork in Ireland, descend from Sir Anthony's first son William, and the Heywards Hill branch of the family, also originally of Co. Cork, descend from his second son, Warham. (The account given in the "Peerage of Ireland" by John Lodge and Mervyn Archdal says that the first son William was disinherited due to his dissolute behavior and the second son Warham was made the heir. The first son William had a son also named Warham who was killed in battle in 1600. The confusion in many family trees may have arisen from the assumption that the first son must have been the heir, as well as from the existence of several Warhams). Sir Anthony was married to Agnes Warham, niece and heiress of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, after whom his first two sons were named. He was a courtier at the court of King Henry VIII and a lawyer of Lincolns Inn. Commissioned by the King to devise a policy to bring Ireland under the Crown, Sir Anthony drew up and implemented the 'grant-re-grant' policy whereby Irish chieftains handed over their lands to Henry and granted them back with an English title.

In order to achieve their consent, Sir Anthony travelled to Ireland and met each chieftain to negotiate, albeit he sought them out in their forests and mountain fastnesses with a small posse of soldiers. He spent 13 months travelling through Ireland on this mission. In a letter to King Henry VIII from Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, in the far south-west of Ireland he wrote: "I think none of your Grace's Deputies cam this way this hundreth yeris since". Sir Anthony managed to persuade the majority of chieftains to accept this plan, but three great chieftains in the north of Ireland, O'Donnell, O'Neill and Maguire held out, sowing the historical seeds of the troubles to come. Modern Irish historians regard Sir Anthony as an English gentleman and a reasonable man.

Sir Anthony St Leger served five terms as Lord Deputy in Ireland, and was granted Leeds Castle in Kent for his service to the King. His descendants from both Irish branches, Doneraile and Heywards Hill, are today scattered throughout the world. Members of this ancient family now live in England, Ireland, France, South Africa, the US and elsewhere. There are now 2 bloodline Heywards Hill St Legers in Scotland for the first time since the Norman Invasion.

St Legers in history[edit]

St Legers of notable historical interest include:


  1. ^ Anglo-French and Norman-Irish St. Leger, St. Ledger, and Leger, and the concentrated Irish spellings of Sallinger, Sallenger, and Sellinger.[1]
  2. ^ Hasted, Edward (1798). "Parishes". The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent. Institute of Historical Research. 6: 143–150. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  3. ^ South African Military History Society: Stradford Edward St Leger


  • Moya Frenz St. Leger, St. Leger The Family and the Race, 1986 ISBN 0-85033-588-4, reprinted in 2004

External links[edit]