Legh, Gerard (DNB00)

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LEGH, GERARD (d. 1563), writer on heraldry, was the son of Henry Legh, draper, of Fleet Street, London, by his first wife Isabel Cailis or Callis. He was indebted for his education to Robert Wroth of Durants in Enfield, Middlesex, and probably to Richard Goodrich [q. v.] Though Wood places him in the ‘Athenæ Oxonienses’ (i. 428), he was not a student at Oxford. He served an apprenticeship to his father and became a member of the Drapers' Company. He appears to have taken the part of the government rather than that of the city in some political question, which had the effect of alienating him from his trade associations. Subsequently his love of study led him to become a member of the Inner Temple. He travelled in France, and in 1562 was preparing for a journey to Venice. Although vain and pedantic, Legh was certainly a man of considerable talent and of much acquired knowledge, both in languages and in various branches of science. He died of the plague on 13 Oct. 1563, and was buried on the 15th at St. Dunstan-in-the-West, where a monument was erected to his memory. He left a widow, Alice, and five daughters.

Legh's only work, entitled ‘The Accedens of Armory,’ 8vo, London, 1562 (1568, 1572, 1576, 1591, 1597, and 1612), is written in form of a colloquy between ‘Gerarde the Herehaught and Legh the Caligat Knight,’ and although put forth as an elementary treatise, is in reality a medley of irrelevant learning. Richard Argall of the Inner Temple supplied a prefatory address and probably part of the latter passages of the book. In endeavouring to explain the art, Legh is purposely obscure from fear of trenching on the official privileges of the College of Arms. Folio 228 of the work supplies what appears to be a portrait of Legh himself in the fictitious character of ‘Panther Herald.’

[Nichols's Herald and Genealogist, i. 3, 42–68, 97–118, 268–72; Moule's Bibliotheca Heraldica; Gent. Mag. August 1856, p. 216.]

G. G.