Assorted Legg Information

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Leggs from the Isles of Scilly
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Ancestry of Isles of Scilly Legg's

There are five Legg marriages recorded in the Isles of Scilly in the 1720's & 1730's, namely Gilbert, Walter, Margery, Margaret & Elizabeth. It appears that these were either all siblings and/or cousins with the original Legg family presumably arriving with the repopulation of the island by Francis Godolphin in the late 16th century. (For details of the descendants with the Legg name from the Isles of Scilly).

In the papers from the Admirality Court in 1603 there is a reference to a "Scillonian Andrew Legg" in connection with receipt of pirated goods (reference The Scilly Isles by Geoffry Grigson)

The Book "Observations on the Isles of Scilly" by William Borlase, published in 1756, refers to fifteen distinct tenements on the island of St Mary's and later on states that:
" ....the Interest and Popularity of the Godolphins", uniting with the conveniences of the Situation, bought here such a number of people, that all notice of the old Inhabitants was soon lost, through an universal attention to the interests of the new. It may surprise one at first coming to find so few places with British names, but it must be observed that the newcomers had no relation to the old Inhabitants, nor consequently any affection for their Customs or Language, but to avoid confusion, all people must have names for Places as well as Persons, it was soon found to be a distinction easier lernt by the generality to call the lands after the names of the Occupiers, then to retain the more uncouth, and to the vulgar, insignificant old names. Hence it is that so many modern family names are affixed to places.....Thus, Bant's Karn had its name from the Family of Bants; Bosow Hill from the Bossows; and the Tennements now called Watt's, Bamfield's, Leg's, Toll, Thomas, etc fom the surnames of the holders; these were names familiar to the newly settled inhabitants, and therefore readily preferred to the British......"

From the above twp items it probable tthat the initial Legg family arrived as one of the first families with the repopulation of the island with the Godolphins in the 1500's. It is possible that the initial Legg family arrived from the Penzance area in West Cornwall (along with the Tregarthens who were another early family in the Isles from West Cornwall) - there are a few other early Legg marriages and baptisms recorded for the "Legg" name in this area, and later on the family name is missing from here. What is not clear is whether these Legg's were of original "Cornish" stock or more probably relative recent arrivals of Southern English stock, where the majority of the earlier Legg's seem to have come from. The "Handbook of Cornish Surnames" refers to Legg (or Legh) as being of Cornish origin, however there are few early Legg records from Cornwall, and it is possible that these were descended from Southern English "Leggs", Legg also being alternatively derived from an English source.

My existing genetic testing indicates that the Scilly Isles Leggs are descended from a Celtic Line which implies that they could be of old Cornish stock. However recent genetic testing of Southern England indicates that at least half of the English in this area were also descended from Celtic lines, i.e. the existing populace were not completely swamped by the AngloSaxon invaders, whilst genetic testing of Cornwall area residents indicate a predominance of Celtic genes amongst those with patrimamonic Cornish names (e.g. Thomas, Richards, etc) while the early Norman or AngloSaxon descended ruling class took the local Celtic area names signifying that they were rulers of that locality. My expectation based on the fact that the Y branch of R1b that the Leggs fall into is releatively less frequent, is that the Legg line is descended from the Bell breaker lineage which overran most fo Britain in the secodn millenoum BC.

To fully determine whether the Isles of Scilly Legg's are of Cornish or English ancestry therefore requires genetic testing to compare Isles of Scilly descended Leggs with those from descended from Southern England.

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Legg surname Derivation

Cornish deviation:

The "Handbook of Cornish surnames" refers to Legg being derived from "legh" meaning flat rock or ledge, and states that it is mostly found in West Cornwwall and the Isles of Scilly.

English deviation:

Legg (or Legge) is quite a common name in Southern England, particularly around the Dorset area. Several possible derivations are given for the name; it is not clear from these whether all Legg's descend from a common ancestor, or whether the name was independantly derived via seperate means. Note: From Bruce Legg - A place called 'LEGE' existed in the Doomsday Book of Dorset (1086). It is located near Wimborne and now called Colehill. There are mentions of Legh and a de Legga in The Victoria History of Dorset in 1296 Vol 3.

The Oxford dictictionary of English surnames refers to the surname "Legg" or "Legge" being mentioned in the "Pipe Rolls" of the 12th century in both Gloucestershire & Northunberland, while in the 14th century the name is found in subsidiary rolls in Sussex & Cambridgeshire. Derivation is given as from Middle English "Legg" and from Old Norse "Leggr" (leg). An alternative spelling Legh is said to derive from a different route - namely from one of the various spellings of Lee, Lay, Leigh etc meaning "dweller by the wood or clearing".

From this it is probable that the name was separately derived in several different localities.

There are also alternative theories for the Legg name derivation.
I found this from a discussion board posting:
.....The surname Legge can be traced back to ancient Rome. The gens Atia was a powerful scribal family in Rome. "From it descended the Traversari family taking its name from a castle biult in 476 A.D. by Teodoro, the prefect of Ravenna who was the founder of the family. Around the 1100's the Traversari family became powerful lawyers,senators and judges. Because of this,their name was changed to Traversari dalla Legge meaning Traversari of the Law due to their involvement in law. There name was eventullaly shortened to da Legge in Ravenna and other parts of Italy and England, and da Lezze in Venice. All were eventually shortened to Legge....."

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Earlier Cornwall Legg Records

Earliest Cornwall Legg data:


Philip BENETTO - Blanch LEGG 26 Nov 1603 at St Just in Penwith
Francis LEGG - Phillipp ? 12 Apr 1635 at Madron


Elizabeth LEGG - dau of John LEGG & - - 21 Dec 1597 at Ludgvan
William LEGG - son of John LEGG & - - 13 Feb 1600 at Ludgvan
Jane LEGG - dau of John LEGG & Agnes - 09 Mar 1623 at St Minver
Mary LEGG - dau of John LEGG & Agnes - 09 Mar 1623 at St Minver
John LEGG - son of John LEGG & Julian - 26 Oct 1627 at St Columb Major
Mary LEGG - dau of Francis LEGG & - - 02 Feb 1636 Madron
John LEGG s - on of ? LEGG & - - 23 Apr 1686 at Falmouth.


Alice LEGG 29 Nov 1628 at Madron.

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