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William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth

The Right Honourable
The Earl of Dartmouth
The Earl of Dartmouth (1777), by Nathaniel Hone
First Lord of Trade
In office
20 July 1765 – 16 August 1766
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Marquess of Rockingham
Preceded by The Earl of Hillsborough
Succeeded by The Earl of Hillsborough
Secretary of State for the Colonies and First Lord of Trade
In office
27 August 1772 – 10 November 1775
Monarch George III
Prime Minister Lord North
Preceded by The Earl of Hillsborough
Succeeded by Lord George Germain
Personal details
Born 20 June 1731 (1731-06-20)
Died Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter.
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Frances Nicoll (d. 1805)
Religion Methodist

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.


  • Background 1
  • Political career 2
  • Philanthropy 3
  • Family 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


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. Having entered Trinity College, Oxford, in 1748,[1] he succeeded his grandfather in the earldom in 1750.

Portrait of William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, by Pompeo Batoni, 1752-56, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

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 did not seem inclined to concur with any new regulations.


Lord Dartmouth was a large donor to and the leading trustee for the English trust that would finance the establishment of the 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.[2]


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.

He died at Blackheath, Kent, on 15 July 1801, in the seventy-first year of his age, and was buried in Trinity Church in the Minories on 3 August 1801.[3] He was succeeded by his eldest son, Sandwell Hall (since demolished) in the Sandwell Valley.



  1. ^ Hopkins, Clare (2005), Trinity: 450 years of an Oxford college community (2007 reprint ed.), Oxford,  
  2. ^ "Lists of Royal Society Fellows". Retrieved 2006-12-15. 
  3. ^ Barker 1892.

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Hillsborough
First Lord of Trade
1765 – 1766
Succeeded by
The Earl of Hillsborough
Preceded by
The Earl of Hillsborough
Colonial Secretary
1772 – 1775
Succeeded by
Lord George Germain
First Lord of Trade
1772 – 1775
Preceded by
The Duke of Grafton
Lord Privy Seal
1775 – 1782
Succeeded by
The Duke of Grafton
Preceded by
The Duke of Rutland
Lord Steward
Succeeded by
The Duke of Chandos
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Legge
Earl of Dartmouth
1750 – 1801
Succeeded by
George Legge
Baron Dartmouth
(descended by acceleration)

1750 – 1801
  • Biography, Arms, and Motto

External links


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