Recorded as Legg, Legge, and the patronymics Leggs, Legges, and perhaps Legis and Leggis, this most interesting surname has complex origins. It is usually English, but perhaps has more than a dash of Viking and French. For example it may derive from the Norse personal name "Leggr", or it may be of early medieval English from the word "legg", which means the same, and was probably used as a nickname for someone with long legs or a swift runner. In some instances the name may be a variant of Leigh or Legh, the name of a number of places in England, or as a variant of the Latin word lex meaning law, and perhaps describing a cleric. Aedwardus Leg was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Northumberland in 1185, whilst other examples from the city of London include Elizabeth Legh who married William Kinkley at St James Clerkenwell, on June 9th 1528, William Legg who married Margery Crosse on April 24th 1547 at St. Mary le Bow, and in France, Jeanne Legis who married Robert L'Arbier at Sevigny-a-la-Foret, Ardennes, on January 12th 1731. George Legge (1648 - 1691), the first Baron Dartmouth, was a notable admiral and commander-in-chief of the fleet, whilst Christopher Legg, aged 19 years, was an early emigrant to the New World, having travelled to Virginia aboard the "Primrose" in July 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alueredus Leg. This was dated 1176, in the "Pipe Rolls of Gloucestershire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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