Legge, George

, baron of Dartmouth, an eminent naval commander, was the eldest son of colonel William Legge, groom of the bed-chamber to king Charles I. and brought up under the brave admiral sir Edward Spragge. He entered the navy at seventeen years of age, and, before he was twenty, his gallant behaviour recommended him so effectually to king Charles II. that in 1667, he promoted him to the command of the Pembroke. In 1671, he was appointed captain of the Fairfax, and the next year removed to the Royal Catharine, in which ship he obtained high reputation, by beating off the Dutch after they had boarded her, though the ship seemed on the point of sinking; and then finding the means of stopping her leaks, he carried her safe into port. In 1673, he was made governor of Portsmouth, master of the horse, and gentleman to the duke of York. Several other posts were successively conferred upon him, and in December 1682, he was created baron of Dartmouth. The port of Tangier having been attended with great expence to keep the fortifications in repair, and to maintain in it a numerous garrison to protect it from the Moors, who watched every opportunity of seizing it, the king determined to demolish the fortifications, and bring the garrison to England; but the difficulty was to perform it without the Moors having any suspicion of the design. Lord Dartmouth was appointed to manage this difficult affair, and, for that purpose, was, in 1683, made governor of Tangier, general of his majesty’s forces in Africa, and admiral of the fleet. At his arrival he prepared every thing necessary for putting his design in execution, blew up all the fortifications, and returned to England with the garrison; soon after which, the king made him a present of ten thousand pounds. When James II. ascended the throne, his lordship was created master of the horse, general of the ordnance, constable of the tower of London, captain of an independent company of foot, and one of the privy-council. That monarch placed the highest confidence in his friendship; and, on his being thoroughly convinced that the prince of Orange intended to land in England, he appointed him commander of the fleet; and, had he not been prevented by the wind and other accidents from | coming up with the prince of Orange, a bloody engagement would doubtless have ensued.

After the prince landed, lord Dartmouth returned to Spithead, in November, with forty-three ships of war, the rest of the fleet being put into other ports. Yet, notwithstanding he brought the fleet safe home, and had acted by order of king James when in power, he was deprived of all his employments at the revolution; and in 1691 committed prisoner to the Tower of London, where, after three months imprisonment, he died suddenly of an apoplexy, Oct. 25 of that year, in the forty-fourth year of his age. When he was dead, lord Lucas, who was constable of the Tower, made some difficulty of permitting his body to be removed without order; on which, application being made to king William, he was pleased to direct that the same respect should be paid at his funeral, that would have been due to him if he had died possessed of all his employments in that place; and accordingly, the Towerguns were fired when he was carried out to be interred near his father, in the vault of the church in the Minories, where a monument of white marble is erected to his memory. 1

1 Collins*! Peerage, by Sir E. Brydge*.