LEGH, Thomas (1793-1857), of Lyme Hall, Cheshire; Haydock Lodge and Golborne Park, Lancs.
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Family and Educationb. 1793, 1st illegit. s. of Thomas Peter Legh† of Golborne and Lyme. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 15 June 1810, aged 17. m. (1) 14 Jan. 1828,1 Ellen (d. 17 Jan. 1831), da. and h. of William Turner† of Shrigley Park, Cheshire, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) 3 Oct. 1843, Maud, da. of Gorges Lowther of Hampton Hall, Som., s.p. suc. fa. 1797. d. 8 May 1857.
Legh, his father’s eldest illegitimate son, had succeeded him as head of the family and from 1808 bore their arms. The rental of his estates was estimated in 1824 at £27,000.2 A distinguished traveller in early life, he served the duke of Wellington as an extra aide-de-camp at Waterloo and represented the family borough of Newton unopposed from his coming of age until its disfranchisement in 1832. He generally supported the Liverpool ministry, casting very occasional wayward votes, and made no reported parliamentary speeches. Early in 1820 he became involved in a minor dispute with Lord Liverpool, who had refused to allow his brother-in-law Thomas Claughton* preferential treatment in the purchase of some royal manors in Cardiganshire.3 He divided against Catholic relief, 30 Apr. 1822, 21 Apr., 10 May, and the attendant Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825; according to a radical publication of that session, he ‘attended occasionally, and appeared to vote with ministers’.4 He voted against them on the appointment of an additional baron of exchequer in Scotland, 15 May 1820, received six weeks’ leave on urgent private business, 9 Apr., and divided with them on economy and retrenchment, 27 June 1821, the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr. 1823, and for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity, 10 June 1825.
Claughton’s bankruptcy in March 1824 embroiled Legh in a number of legal actions. He was sued early in 1825 for the £3,500 value of a bill of exchange drawn on him in 1821 by Claughton, which the attorney-general Sir John Singleton Copley*, representing him, successfully contended had come into the plaintive (Usher’s) hands by fraudulent means.5 On 11 Feb. 1825 a creditors’ meeting put Claughton’s debt to Legh at £100,000, and he was found liable and ordered to pay the value of a promissory note worth £8-9,000 when sued in 1826.6 He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. In January 1828 he married Ellen Turner, the daughter of a neighbouring landowner and heiress to the Shrigley estate, who in 1826 had been abducted and inveigled into marriage (later annulled) by Edward Gibbon Wakefield.7 As the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary anticipated, Legh remained opposed to the concession of Catholic emancipation and voted accordingly, 6 Mar. 1829. He received three weeks’ leave on account of his wife’s illness, 15 Apr. 1830. After the general election that summer ministers listed him among the ‘moderate Ultras’, which they endorsed to ‘friend’, but he voted to bring them down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He was granted three weeks’ leave, 14 Feb. 1831, following his wife’s death, and another fortnight on account of illness in his family, 9 Mar. 1831. He did not vote on the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, which proposed Newton’s disfranchisement, 22 Mar., but he divided for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. He voted against the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, but apparently with government against making the 1831 census the determinant of English borough disfranchisements, 19 July 1831. He divided against the bill’s third reading, 19 Sept., and passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish reform bill, 28 Sept. 1831, and the third reading of the revised reform bill, 22 Mar. 1832. He left Parliament at the dissolution that year.