Legg Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


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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.

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (London). Barry wavy of ten or and az. three torteaux, in chief as many fleurs-de-lis gu.
2) Gu. a cross engr. ar. a bordure of the last.
3) Gu. a cross engr. ar. a bordure of the last. Crest—A fountain of three raisings playing ppr.

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