Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Legg Name
Legg is a surname an English surname which was derived from the old Norse “leggr”, a nickname given to an individual who was fleet of foot or had long legs. In this context the name would be patronymic in origin. The name is thought to have been introduced to the British Isles during the Viking age.
The variations in the spelling of the surname includes; Legg; Legge; Leggs; and Legges among others. The variations in spelling of surnames dating back to ancient times can be attributed to a lack of consistency regarding guidelines for spelling in use by the scribes who recorded such information, many of which were in the habit of spelling phonetically. The issue of multiple spellings of names in records was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time.
Until the Norman invasion and conquest, surnames were rarely if ever used. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times in most of Britain, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities knew each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, as communities grew and people began to migrate on a larger scale, along with the need of the government having a reliable way to track people for tax and census purposes, the Norman aristocracy’s penchant for using surnames seemed the appropriate evolution to this problem. In most instances to distinguish themselves, one from another, those not of the noble class would often be identified by their given name plus their occupation while others may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent’s names. There was a boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individual’s home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Over the course or time, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.
One of the earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of Aedwardus Leg which appears in the Northumberland tax rolls from 1185. The tax rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King John. These documents, the oldest dating back seven hundred years to the 12th century, are considered the oldest continuous set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom.
The task of record keeping was primarily the responsibility of the churches, priories, and government as literacy was often a skill found only among the wealthy, the clergy, and those in government. For practical purposes, governments found the use of surnames made the recording and tracking of people for census, taxation, and immigration purposes easier.
One of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname was Eliza Legg who arrived in 1700 and settled in Virginia.
There were also immigrants to the British Commonwealth countries of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand bearing the surname. Joshua Legg was one of the early settlers to Canada landing in 1837 and settling in Ontario. Joseph W. Legg was one of the early settlers to Australia, arriving in 1849 and settling in South Australia and Richard Legg arrived and settled in South Australia in 1857. Charles Legg was an early settler to New Zealand, arriving in 1850 and settling in Wellington.
Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Legg are found in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Canada. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Legg live in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Virginia.
There are many persons of note who bear the surname such as British born businessman Barry Charles Legg who is also a former Member of Parliament.
British born John Wickham Legg was a physician who was educated at Winchester College, New College, Oxford, and University College, London. He was the medical attendant to Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Leopold, who was a hemophiliac. Legg later became a medical attendant to
Leopold’s wife, Princess Helen, and their daughter, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone. Who incidentally was the longest lived Princess of Royal Blood in England. She was born in 1883, and died in 1981 at the age of 98.
Legg Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Legg blazon are the torteaux, fleur-de-lis, cross engrailed and fountain. The three main tinctures (colors) are argent, gules and or .
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) . In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper .
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries . Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone..
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa . The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo..
For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose One of the simplest such shapes is the plain circle, known to heralds as the roundle. So popular is this charge that a shorthand has arisen for roundles of a particular colour and torteau is a roundle gules, or red. (We must be careful however not to confuse this with the word in French heraldry, in which torteau means roundle and must have the colour specified.) Most authorities agree that the English usage signifies the “Manchet cake” or communion wafer and thus is a symbol of religious allegiance.
The fleur-de-lys (“flower of the lily”) has a long and noble history and was a symbol associated with the royalty of France even before heraldry became widespread. . The Lily flower is said to represent “Purity, or whiteness of soul” and sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary. The fleur-de-lys is also used as a small “badge”, known as a mark of cadency to show that the holder is the sixth son of the present holder of the arms
No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross . Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. Since no two arms could be identical there arose many variants of the cross, typically involving patterning along the edges . The pattern engrailed is a series of scalloped indentations with the points facing outwards – and should not be confused with invected, which has the points facing inwards! Wade believes that both of these indented forms represent “earth or land”, and one perhaps can indeed see the furrowed earth embodied in them.