William Legge, 1st Earl of Dartmouth
The Earl of Dartmouth
|Secretary of State for the Southern Department|
|Preceded by||The Earl of Sunderland|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Bolingbroke|
|Lord Privy Seal|
|Preceded by||John Robinson|
|Succeeded by||The Marquess of Wharton|
|Born||October 14, 1672|
|Died||December 15, 1750(aged 78)|
|Alma mater||King's College, Cambridge|
William Legge, 1st Earl of Dartmouth (14 October 1672 – 15 December 1750) was Lord Privy Seal from 1713 to 1714.
The only son of George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth, he was educated as a town-boy at Westminster School. He subsequently went to King's College, Cambridge, where he graduated M.A. in 1689. He succeeded to his father's barony in 1691.
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. 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; though himself a Tory, he was prepared to work with the Whigs. He earned the regard of Robert Harley, another believer in moderation; Dartmouth in return remained a loyal friend after Harley's downfall. He also had the confidence of Queen Anne, who praised him as "an honest man." 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 than from Dartmouth. In private life his fondness for laughing at his own jokes led to his nickname "the Jester".
Marriage & Children
- George Legge, Viscount Lewisham (born c. 1704, died 29 August 1732), father of William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth
- Lady Barbara Legge (born ?, died 29 October 1765), married Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot, 5th Baronet of Blithfield Hall
- Hon Heneage Legge (born ?, died 29 August 1759)
- Lady Anne Legge (born ?, died July 1740), married Sir Lister Holte, 5th Baronet of Aston Hall
- Rt Hon Henry Bilson-Legge, PC, FRS (born 29 May 1708, died 23 August 1764), Chancellor of the Exchequer three times between 1754 and 1761.
- Commodore Hon Edward Legge, FRS (born 1710, died 1747)
Dartmouth was succeeded by his grandson, William, son of his eldest son George Legge, Viscount Lewisham, who died young in 1732.
- Biographical notice of the Earl of Dartmouth, Page 104, The New Hampshire Repository, Volumes 1-2, William Cogswell, Publisher:Alfred Prescott, 1846
- Barker 1892.
- "London, Sept. 6". The Newcastle Courant: with News Forreign and Domestick. British Newspaper Archive. 8–10 September 1711. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
- Hamilton, Elizabeth. "The Backstairs Dragon- a life of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford. Hamish Hamilton: London, 1969
- Gregg, Edward. Queen Anne (2nd ed.) Yale University Press, 2001
- Hamilton, The Backstairs Dragon
- The Peerage, entry for the 1st Earl of Dartmouth
- The Peerage, entry for Lady Barbara Legge
- The Peerage, entry for Lady Anne Legge
- The Peerage, entry for Edward Legge
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Barker, George Fisher Russell (1892). "Legge, William (1672-1750)". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 32. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
The Earl of Sunderland
| Secretary of State for the Southern Department
The Viscount Bolingbroke
| Lord Privy Seal
The Marquess of Wharton
The Duke of Somerset
| Senior Privy Counsellor
The Viscount Bolingbroke
|Peerage of England|
| Baron Dartmouth
|Peerage of Great Britain|
|New title|| Earl of Dartmouth