Lives of the fellows

John Wickham Legg

b.28 December 1843 d.28 October 1921
MD Lond Hon DLitt Oxon MRCS FRCP(1876)

John Wickham Legg was born at Alverstoke, Hampshire, the third son of George Legg, printer and bookseller, by his wife Ellen Austin. He was educated locally as a boy and studied medicine at University College, London. When he had qualified in 1866, he acted, on Jenner’s recommendation, as resident medical attendant to Prince Leopold, afterwards Duke of Albany, for a year. He passed a further year at Berlin under Virchow, returning in 1868 to take up the post of curator of the pathological museum at University College. In 1870, he was appointed casualty physician at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, where in 1878 he was elected assistant physician and in 1879 lecturer on pathology; he also had charge of the skin department for a few years. He delivered the Bradshaw Lecture at the Royal College of Physicians in 1883.

Despite such a promising start to his career, Wickham Legg decided to abandon medicine, after two attacks of rheumatic fever in 1887. For the remainder of his life, he gave his undivided attention to the study of liturgies, which had always held a strong interest for him. His first literary work was an edition in 1888 of the Quignon Breviary of 1535. The foundation of the Henry Bradshaw Society in 1890 was due largely to his efforts, and for it he edited the Westminster Missal (1891-97) and the Second Recension of the Quignon Breviary (1908-12). In 1914 he published a volume on English Church Life from the Restoration to the Tractarian Movement, and in 1916 an edition of the Sarum Missal. Wickham Legg was by this time accepted as the greatest living English authority on liturgiology. His outlook was conservative in the extreme and he attacked the proposed revision of the Prayer Book. Personally he was a man of great charm and excelled as a host and raconteur. He married in 1872 Eliza Jane, daughter of Richard Houghton of Great Crosby, near Liverpool, and had one son. He died at Oxford where he had lived since his wife’s death in 1908.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1921; B.M.J., 1921; St. Bart.'s Hospital Reports, 1922, lv, 1; D.N.B., 1912-21, 330]

(Volume IV, page 242)

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