Bill and Tilly Legge on 50th wedding anniversary

Bill and Tilly Legge on 50th wedding anniversary

We know from his application for exemption from service in World War I that William George Legge was born on 27th December 1879 and from parish records that he was baptised on February 22nd 1880 in Falfield.  He was the son of George and Harriet Legge of Whitfield.

The records of Thornbury Grammar School show that he was admitted to the school but failed to get a scholarship.

He married Matilda Lewis on 25th February 1900 in the Bristol area.  She was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire on 30th January 1880, the daughter of Thomas Lewis, a plumber and his wife, Ann.  By 1891 the Lewis’s had moved from Trowbridge to 12 Sandbed Lane, St Phillips, Bristol with their nine children.  Thomas was working as a master builder.

In 1901 William and Matilda were living in St Phillip and St Jacob in Bristol.  At that time William was a railway engine fireman on the Great Western Railway.

The records of the Council School show that the Legges had moved to Thornbury by 1907 when their son George was admitted to the Council Upper School.  William George Legge was listed in the Voters List of 1907 as living in an as yet unidentified house in Gillingstool near the Council School.

In the census of 1911 William was a coal porter aged 31 living with his wife Matilda also aged 31.  The couple lived in Gillingstool and had five children George aged 10, Frederick aged seven, Florence aged six, Edward aged four and Henry aged one.

A newspaper report at the time of their Golden Wedding Anniversary notes that William was employed by Oliver Higgins for 21 years until 1928 at which time he became an employee of Gloucestershire County Council and he worked on the roads in the Gillingstool area.  A report in the Western Daily Press in April 1916 refers to William George as a labourer working at Parks Farm, Thornbury.  The report relates to the inquest held at the Black Horse into the accidental death of William’s father.  George had been assisting a carter transport wheat from Garrett’s farm at Lower Morton to Thornbury.  George was looking after the shaft horse when it stood on his foot and he lost balance and the wheel of the cart went over his leg above the ankle.  The doctor assumed that it was just a broken leg, but he died a few days later of congestion to the lungs and septic absorption.

The Rate Book of 1926 indicates that the Legges had moved to the property near the Black Horse, now called The Dingle, which was owned by Thomas Exell.  They were to remain here for  a long time.  William and Matilda appeared to live in the cottage until at least 1946 and their grandson, John Legge, lived with them for several years.  Click here to read about The Dingle

The register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the War shows they were living in the same house.  Living with them were their son Horace, their daughter Winifred Smith and her family.

Ill health caused William to leave his employment in 1946. 

On 14th May 1946 the house in which William Legge was living was bought by his son Reginald Ernest Lewis Legge.  In 1949 William wrote to Thornbury Town Trust from Eastland Avenue where he was living with his daughter, Winifred Smith, and her children.  William was interested in becoming the tenant of an unoccupied cottage in St Mary Street.  We are not sure what happened as a result of this application.  The 1950 electoral register lists Matilda Legge and John Legge as living in Gillingstool.  William was not listed at all.

William died aged 71 when the Cemetery records show that he was living at The Hackett.  He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 20th October 1951.

Matilda was not listed in the 1954 electoral register but the 1958 electoral register shows her living at 18 Eastland Avenue.  Matilda died in Thornbury Hospital aged 79 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 17th April 1959.

Of their children

 George Thomas Legge was born 17th August 1900.  In 1922 he married Blanche Rebecca Biddle in the Alverstoke area in Hampshire.  They had three children all born in Thornbury: Vernon in 1924, Doris in 1925 and John in 1927.  During this period the family lived at the house which became known as 6 Castle Street.

We believe that George may have joined the Royal Navy because Navy records show that a ‘George T. Legge’ did serve as a seaman.   Thornbury school records for his three children also show that the family spent time in Gosport and Portsmouth.

On 15th December 1927 55 St Mary Street  was bought by George Thomas Legge of Castle Street.

George died on war service on 8th June 1940.  His address at that time was 351 Forton Road, Gosport and he was serving as a Stoker in the Royal Navy. He was serving on HMS Acasta which was sunk in action against the German war ships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau .  He is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval memorial.  At that time he was Stoker First Class.

George’s widow, Blanche Rebecca Legge, took over the property at 55 St Mary Street and kept it until 30th April 1964 when she sold it to Thornbury Rural District Council for £400.  She was living at 9 Avery Road, Gosport at the time of the sale.

Blanche died in Portsmouth in 1975.

Frederick.  Frederick Legge was born on 21st April 1903.  The census of 1911 shows him aged seven living with his family.  Frederick died in 1938, the same year as his brother Edward.  The newspaper reported the inquest on his death in March 1938.  Frederick’s death was caused by a terrible accident whilst in hospital in Cheltenham.  The distressing details were fully reported at the time which can only have added to the sufferings of the family.

Florence Mabel was born on 25th September 1904.  She married William Henry Yewbrey in 1930 and they had two sons: David in 1931 and Brian in 1933.  She died in 1944 aged 39.  The Cemetery record shows she died at Patchway Common.  She was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 20th September 1944.  The memorial stone in the Garden of Rest there refers to her as ‘Floss’.

Edward Sidney was born in 1907.  The Log Book of the Council School shows that on 2nd September 1918 Edward Legge got a Bristol Bursary.  We do not know if this enabled him to attend Thornbury Grammar School but TGS records do show that Edward was a pupil there and that he did very well indeed.  He passed his Cambridge senior with distinction in French in 1921 and matriculated in 1922.  He was forced to leave school due to ill health.  Sadly Edward Sydney Legge died on July 30th 1938 at Bristol Royal Infirmary.  The announcement said he ‘passed away peacefully’.

William Henry – born in Thornbury in 1909.  He was listed under the name of ‘Henry’ in the 1911 census.  We don’t know anything about him after that time.

Winifred was born on 22nd April 1912  (see Robert Smith 4 Rock Street),

Horace born 19th October 1914.  An article in the Gazette in 1927 shows Len Smith was driving a motor cycle and side car when he had an accident on the first bend of Alveston Hill.  He misjudged the bend, hit the kerb and was thrown off the vehicle.  His passenger, Horace Legge, a boy employed by Len, was also hurt.  Both were conveyed to Dr Grace’s surgery where they were treated.  The register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the War shows Horace was working as a capstan lathe hand.   In January 1940 Horace married Violet May Dyer of Olddown at Olveston Methodist Church.  They had two daughters, Ann in 1942 and Hazel in 1945.  We have been told that they lived at some stage in Marylands, 8 Horseshoe Lane.

Reginald Ernest Lewis was born in 1916 (see 20 Rock Street).  In 1946 he purchased The Dingle, the house in which his parents were living.

Joyce Lily was born in 1917.  On 30th 1938 Joyce married Charles Raymond Forman a farmer and patternmaker of Gillingstool.  Charles was the son of the late Charles Edward Forman.  Charles and Joyce had two sons, Peter born in 1939 and Anthony in 1946.   The 1946 electoral register shows Charles and Joyce were living in Gillingstool.  We are not sure if they were living with Joyce’s parents or elsewhere.  By 1950 they had moved to Easton Hill.  Joyce died in Solihull area in 1989 aged 71.