Born 1731 Died 1801
William was a son of George, Viscount Lewisham, and a grandson of the 1st Earl, whom he succeeded in 1750. For a few months in 1765 and 1766 he was President of the Board of Trade and foreign plantations; in 1772 he returned to the same office holding also that of secretary for the colonies; and in 1775 he became Lord Privy Seal. With regard to the American colonies Dartmouth advised them in 1777 to accept the conciliatory proposals put forward by Lord North, but in 1776 he opposed similar proposals and advocated the employment of force. In March 1782 he resigned his office as Lord Privy Seal and in 1783 he was Lord Steward of the Household; he died on the 15th of July 1801.
Dartmouth was a friend of Selina, countess of Huntingdon, and his piety and his intimacy with the early Methodists won for him the epithet of the 'Psalm-singer'. Dartmouth College was named after him, and among his papers preserved at Patshull House, Wolverhampton, are many letters from America relating to the struggle for independence. His sixth son, Sir Arthur Kaye Legge (d. 1835), was an admiral of the blue, and his seventh son, Edward Legge (d. 1827), was bishop of Oxford.
Extracted from the entry for DARTMOUTH, EARLS OF in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.