LEIGH AND LEGH OF HIGH LEGH

1. EAST HALL AND ITS CHAPEL

Grid Ref: SJ 701 839
17 March 2010

 

Chapel spacer Millennium stone
The Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dating from 1581   Millennium Stone in the Chapel Grounds
Chapel   shield
South side of the chapel   Armorial bearings over the door

 

Sir Peter Leicester in his Historical Antiquities mentions the chapel at East Hall as being built by Thomas Legh of High Legh in 1581. He described it as a chapel of ease in the township, within the parish of Rostherne. Richards in his Old Cheshire Churches, gives a full account of the chapel together with black and white photographs. It is believed to be on the site of an earlier one belonging to East Hall. Richards reviews the often contradictory claims of earlier historians as to the earlier chapel or chapels on the site. It may be that the earlier chapel is one mentioned in Domesday but there is then a 200 year gap before documentary evidence in Legh papers for there being a chaplain in 1280. The is no documentary evidence for a chapel on the site before 1408. The current chapel has a bell inscribed "T. Legh of High Legh, Esquire, 1580, Recast 1878"

The Legh Family of East Hall

According to Magna Britannia (D. & S. Lysons, 1810) the Leghs of East Hall had continued in uninterrupted male descent from Edward de Lega to the current George John Legh mentioned below. The male line of the elder branch failed about the time of Edward IV (1461-1483). In the reign of Henry VIII, Thomas Legh of Northwood, who was a descendant of a younger son of John Legh, and lived about the time of Edward II (1307-1327), pursued his claim and after a long legal battle succeeded to the East Hall estate.  Either this Thomas or his son rebuilt the hall in the reign of Elizabeth I.

The hall is mentioned in Cheshire Country Houses, by Peter de Figueiredo and Julian Treuhertz, Phillimore, Chichester, 1988. The Leghs had an Elizabethan mansion of which only the chapel remains. The house was replaced by one designed by John Hope and built between 1781 and 1784 for Henry Cornwall Legh. It was altered to the design of John Nash by G. J. Legh in the period 1797 to 1818. The grounds were landscaped by Repton who was able to move the Knutsford to Warrington road (now the A50) farther from the house. An Italianate stone lodge from this house survives. The hall was demolished in 1963.  The illustration below, received from Vincent Tickner, show the hall about 1960.

.East Hall

The Legh family have lived in the area since the time of William II. The male line ended in the 20th century on the death of Sydney Cornwall Legh. (Sources were Transactions of the Historical Society of Lancs. and Cheshire, Vol. 101, 1949, page 108 and Legh of High Legh in Landed Gentry 1965.)

The descent of the Legh family extant in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries is outlined briefly below, drawn from Burke's Landed Gentry of 1906 and Ormerod's The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester.

I am grateful to Vincent Tickner for extensive information on the Legh family from the 15th to the 20th century, some of which has been incorporated below and shown in italics.   The main sources consulted for this were Burke's Landed Gentry 17th edition, 1952 and 18th edition, Vol. 1. 1969;  Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 105th edition, 1975; Debretts Peerage and Baronetage, 1995 and 2000

* Mary Cornwall Legh.    I have been contacted by Shigeru and Michiko Nakamura in Japan, who are interested in Mary's life. Mary was born in Canterbury in 1857 and went to Japan about 1907 as a self-paid SPG missionary. Having obtained a piece of land in Kusatsu in 1915 she provided medical and spiritual help to lepers until 1936, when her health was failing. She died in Japan in 1941. Mary wrote over a dozen books for children. Any further information from readers would be gratefully received. The information in the tree above on Mary is from Raymond Richard's artice in THSL&C mentioned below.

Vincent Tickner traces the male line back 19 generations from Richard Legh in generation 1 above as follows where I show only the main line of descent

 

Additional Sources.

Stuart Raymond in Cheshire a Genealogical Bibliography, Vol 2. quotes the following sources on the Cornwall Legh family, neither of which I have consulted.

The Cornwall Leghs of High Legh: approaches to the inheritance patterns of North-West England, by Evelyn Lord, in the Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 73 (2), 1991, pp. 21-36, includes pedigree from 13th to 20th centuries.

The Chapels of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John at High Legh, Cheshire with an account of the Cornwall-Legh and Egerton-Legh families, by Raymond Richards, in Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 101, 1949, 97-136, includes a folded pedigree from the medieval period to 19th century. There are more details in this pedigree on Mary Cornwall Legh than in the article in Ormerod's History of Cheshire.

 



2. WEST HALL AND ITS CHAPEL

Grid Ref: SJ 700 841
17 March 2010

St. John's spacer St. John's
St. John's from the West   St. John's from the South
South Window   North Window
Fishers of Men, South Window   North Window

 

Peter de Figueiredo and Julian Treuhertz give a brief mention of West Hall at High Legh in their book. It was a half-timbered building and is shown as it was in 1814, in Ormerod's History of Cheshire. Shortly after this period it was either enlarged or completely rebuilt in red brick. West Hall was demolished in 1935.

There had been a chapel near the hall since 1408 but this fell into disrepair. A new chapel was built on the site in 1816 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. It was designed by Thomas Harrison of Chester. This building had a classical appearance with four columns at the front. While being restored in 1891 the chapel was destroyed by fire and replaced by St. John's as shown in the photograph above. (Sir Peter Leicester notes that there was formerly an ancient chapel of ease belonging to the family of Leigh of West Hall in High Legh built about the time of Henry IV (1399-1413).  However, by the 1670s, he claimed that it had been converted to others uses.)

The chapel is open to view on Wednesday mornings from 10 am until noon and I am grateful to the church warden for permission to take pictures of the interior, two of which are shown above. The church has had a small extension to make it more convenient for holding meetings with catering and toilet facilities and is planning further work.

The Leigh Family of West Hall

D. & S. Lysons in Magna Britannia, give details of the relationship of several branches of the Legh and Leigh families and the notes below shown are simplified from this source. The Leighs of West Hall arrived in High Legh about 70 years after the Leghs of East Hall.

"Egerton Leigh of West Hall in High Legh and Twemlow, Esq. is descended from Richard Lymme who in the late 13th century married Agnes the daughter and sole heiress of Richard de Legh.  Agnes had a second husband, William Venables, and they had a son, John, who (also) took the name of Legh and settled at Booths. William Venables was descended from Gilbert Venables the first baron of Kinderton who held land in Cheshire under Hugh Lupus after the Norman Conquest."

John Legh was the common ancestor of the following branches of the Legh family of which the first seven were in Cheshire.

1. Legh of Sandbach, who became extinct after two generations.
2. Legh of Booths, of whom Willoughby Legh was the representative in 1810 with the Leighs of West Hall also as descendants of this branch.
3. Leigh of Oughtrington, who are descended from John, a younger son of Richard Leigh of West Hall as a result of his marriage to an heiress in the reign of Edward IV. Trafford Trafford, Esq. of Oughtrington was the lineal descendant of this branch but assumed the name Trafford in compliance with the will of a maternal uncle.
4. Legh of Adlington, who became extinct by the death of Charles Legh in 1781 were descended from Robert, a younger son of the first John Legh of Booths.
5. Legh of Baguely were descended from Sir William Legh, a younger son of the second Sir John Legh of Booths but became extinct in 1688.
6. Legh of Lyme were descended from Piers, a younger son of Robert Legh of Adlington mentioned above, and became extinct by the death of Thomas Peter Legh of Lyme in 1797.  (He was succeeded at Lyme by his eldest illegitimate son, Thomas (1792-1857) who had no male heirs.  In 1857, the estate went to Thomas Legh's nephew, William John, the son of Thomas Peter Legh's second illegitimate son, William.  William John Legh became the 1st Lord Newton.)
7. Legh of Ridge arise from John a younger son of Sir Peter Legh of Lyme, who married the heiress of Alcock of Ridge.
8. Leigh of Ifell in Cumberland, extinct from about 1600
9. Leigh of Middleton in Yorkshire.
10. Leigh of Egginton in Derbyshire, Rinshall in Staffordshire, Stoneley in Warwickshire and Addlestrop in Gloucestershire all derive their descent from a younger son of the first Legh of Ridge.

Ormerod shows the Leigh family of West Hall descending from Thomas de Legh, who died in 10 Edw. II (1317).  The male heirs married into the Massy family of Winsham, the Leicesters of Nether Tabley, the Booths of Dunham Massy and the Davenports of Davenport.  Below I trace the family from the late 17th century by which time the family name was written as Leigh. Several members of the family were clergy with connections to Lymm in Cheshire. Some had multiple livings which they had to handle by employing curates. The first Egerton Leigh married three times and had a total of 11 sons and 7 daughters. The following tree is simplified from the pedigrees shown in the histories of Ormerod and the Lysons. I am grateful to Richard Adamson for sending me details from Burke's Peerage which adds a lot of data not contained in Ormerod and Lysons. It covers mainly the 18th century.

War Memorial

War Memorial by St. John's, erected in 1994

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