Stephen Legg

Ship's carpenter lost at sea

September 1872
Buried at:  
Barnoon Cemetery, St Ives

Stephen Legg was born in 1840 in Quay Street, Madron (near Penzance), to a father who was a master mariner. He had an elder brother who was also at sea, and 5 other siblings.

In 1865 he married Ellen Grose, and by 1871 they were living in Coulsons Place, Penzance with two daughters Elizabeth (born in 1866) & Margaret (born 1868) and a son, William Henry, born in 1871. Ten years later, the 1881 census shows Ellen and her children living in the same place, but Ellen is already indicated as a widow. Later, Ellen is recorded as living in St Ives with her daughter, Elizabeth, who married Richard Baragwanath in 1892, and their daughter, Lily. Evidently, this is why the memorial to Stephen is in St Ives, rather than in Penzance where she and Stephen lived during their married life.

So what happened to Stephen Legg? The Royal Cornwall Gazette reported in January 1872 that the Almira - a fully-rigged ship - had left New Brunswick in mid-September 1871, carrying a cargo of American yellow pine baulks and deals, and in the absence of a recent sighting of the ship 'all hope is not yet gone, but there is a very very anxious time of it'. Stephen is noted as being onboard as the ship's carpenter, and a later report in February 1882 notes that a large number of yellow pine had been washing ashore along the coast from Mevagissey to Penzance. These timbers were likely to be being imported for use as mine-props and headgear framework, though in this case they did not reach the intended port.

The website notes that the ship foundered in March 1882, yet even by the time of the 1881 census, he was assumed to have perished at sea. There is no indication from the press archive that Stephen Legg's body was recovered. It seems Stephen was commemorated here after his son-in-law Richard had passed away.


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