Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Legge, Edward

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LEGGE, EDWARD (1710–1747), commodore, born in 1710, was fifth son of William Legge, first earl of Dartmouth [q. v.] He entered the navy in 1726, on board, the Royal Oak, one of the fleet under Sir Charles Wager [q. v.] for the relief of Gibraltar. He afterwards served in the Poole, in the Kinsale with the Hon. George Clinton, in the Salisbury and Namur, and passed his examination on 4 July 1732. He was promoted to be lieutenant of the Deptford on 5 March 1733-4, and to be captain on 26 July 1738. In 1739 he was appointed to the Pearl, one of the ships fitting for the voyage to the Pacific under Commodore George (afterwards Lord) Anson [q. v.] From her he was moved into the Severn, another of Anson's squadron, which after many delays sailed from St. Helens in September 1740. In the violent storm to the southward of Cape Horn the Severn and the Pearl were separated from the commodore on 10 April 1741. The storm, blowing from the north-west, raged continuously for forty days, during which time they beat to the westward. When the weather permitted they stood to the north, supposing that they had passed into the Pacific. They were in fact still in the Atlantic, the leeway and current together having more than nullified the laborious windward sailing, and on 1 June found themselves off Cape Frio (Gent Mag. 1741, xi. 611). The case is often referred to as an instance of the extreme uncertainty of the determination of longitude by dead reckoning only. On 30 June they reached Rio Janeiro in an almost helpless state, having lost a very great many of their men by sickness. After recruiting his ship's company Legge returned to England, where he arrived in April 1742. In 1745 he commanded the Strafford in the West Indies, and in 1746 the Windsor on the home station, when he sat as a member of the courts-martial on Admirals Richard Lestock [q. v.] and Thomas Mathews [q. v.] In 1747 he went out as commodore and commander-in-chief at the Leeward Islands, with orders to supersede his predecessor, Commodore Fitzroy Henry Lee [q. v.], and try him by court-martial for misconduct and neglect of duty. Lee, however, was sent home without being tried, and Legge shortly afterwards died, on 19 Sept. 1747.

[Charnock's Biog. Nav. iv. 380; commission and warrant books in the Public Record Office; letters to Anson in Addit. MS. 15956, ff. 178-186; Anson's Voyage round the World.]

J. K. L.