William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth

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William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth

Birthplace: London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Death: July 15, 1801 (70)
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of George Legge, Viscount Lewisham and Elizabeth Kaye
Husband of Frances Katherine Nicoll
Father of George 3rd Earl of Dartmouth Legge, 3rd Earl of Dartmouth; Admiral Sir Arthur Kaye Legge KCB; Hon Edward Legge; Charlotte Legge Duncombe, Baroness Feversham; Henry Legge and 3 others
Brother of Anne Legge, Hon and Private
Half brother of Lady Louisa North and Rt Rev Brownlow North, Bishop of Winchester

Managed by: Private User
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About William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth


William Legge 2nd Earl of Dartmouth PC, FRS (20 June 1731 – 15 July 1801), styled as Viscount Lewisham from 1732 to 1750, was a British statesman who is most remembered for his part in the government before and during the American Revolution.


Dartmouth was the son of George Legge, Viscount Lewisham (d. 1732), son of William Legge, 1st Earl of Dartmouth. His mother was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Arthur Kaye, 3rd Baronet. He succeeded his grandfather in the earldom in 1750.

Political career

Lord Dartmouth was Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1772 to 1775. It was Lord Dartmouth who, in 1764, at the suggestion of Thomas Haweis, recommended John Newton, the former slave trader, to the Bishop of Chester, and was instrumental in his being accepted for the Anglican ministry.

In 1772, in correspondence with Sir William Johnson, the Superintendent of Northern Indian Affairs in America, he suggested there was no reasonable way the British Government could support new trade regulations with the Indians. He sympathised with Johnson's arguments but stated the Colonies do not seem inclined to concur with any new regulations.

On April 14, 1775, Lord Dartmouth instructed General Thomas Gage to disarm the colonial rebels, who were known to have hidden weapons in Concord, among other locations, and to imprison the rebellion's leaders, especially Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Dartmouth gave Gage considerable discretion in his commands. These orders led to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles_of_Lexington_and_Concord


Lord Dartmouth was a large donor to and the leading trustee for the English trust that would finance the establishment of the Indian Charity School, in Lebanon, Connecticut by Eleazar Wheelock to educate and convert the Indians. Wheelock subsequently founded Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, naming the school in Lord Dartmouth's honor in hopes of getting his financial support. Lord Dartmouth refused. In London, Lord Dartmouth supported the new Foundling Hospital, a charitable institution for the care and maintenance of London's abandoned children. He served as a vice president of the organization from 1755 until his death. The famous painter Sir Joshua Reynolds painted the Earl's portrait and donated it to the hospital. The portrait is still in the Foundling Hospital Collection and can be seen at the Foundling Museum in London. He was admitted a Fellow of the Royal Society on 7 November 1754.


Lord Dartmouth married Frances Catherine, daughter of Sir Charles Gounter Nicoll, in 1755. Their younger sons Admiral the Hon. Sir Arthur Kaye Legge and the Right Reverend the Hon. Edward Legge, Bishop of Oxford, both gained distinction. Their daughter Charlotte married Charles Duncombe, 1st Baron Feversham. Lord Dartmouth died in July 1801, aged 70, and was succeeded by his eldest son, George. Lady Dartmouth died in July 1805. The family lived at Sandwell Hall (since demolished) in the Sandwell Valley.

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William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth's Timeline

June 20, 1731
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
October 3, 1755
Dartmouth, Devon, England, United Kingdom
October 5, 1774
London, United Kingdom
July 15, 1801
Age 70
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom