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Richard Leggett (1841–1934)

from Advocate

Captain Richard Leggett, who died in Melbourne on Sunday, February 11, in his 93rd year, came to Circular Head in 1879, in charge of the schooner Victoria. He lived there continuously, with the exception of the past few years, when he divided his time between Stanley and Melbourne.

He was born at Littlehampton, Sussex, England, the same town from which Thomas Henty came, on February 28, 1841. He served his apprenticeship on vessel trading round the coasts of England and to Continental ports. These were the days when sail was predominant–the days of wooden ships and iron men. In 1857 he came to Australia in the full-rigged ship Parsee to join his brother, Captain Thomas Leggett, and was engaged with him in the lighthouse and other Government services. In connection with this, he visited King Island, and later became associated with the salvage of many of the numerous wrecks which occurred there before the erection of the Currie Lighthouse, the foundation stones (45 tons bluestone) of which he transported there from Melbourne in the schooner Nish.

In 1866 he was engaged by Captain Currie upon completion of the salvage of the Arrow, a Chilian gunboat, to go to the wreck of the Netherby. The anchorage at this time was at New Year Is., and in seeking a better base for operations he discovered, surveyed and named Currie Harbor after Captain Currie.

In the early sixties he went to Port Chalmers, N.Z., en route to Gabriel's Gully with the gold seekers, but being disappointed, returned to Melbourne. He then entered the bay trade, and for about 14 years carried on a regular trade between Melbourne and Queenscliff with the Ben Bolt and Clara and the steamers Corio and Queenscliffe.

In 1878 and 1879 as master of the yacht Mischief Captain Leggett won the Portland Cup, the blue ribbon in yachting events in those days. He then made his home at Stanley, and for over half a century traded on the coast and across the Strait.

When the sailing ships Highbrow and Remonstrance brought from England the iron rails for the Burnie-Waratah line, Captain Leggett was specially engaged to go to Burnie, and for three months he was engaged in the hazardous task of lightering the rails ashore, as there was no wharf accommodation. During a heavy easterly gale he went out, single-handed, to the lighter Penguin, and was instrumental in saving the life of a lad, the only one on board, when the vessel parted her chain and was thrown ashore on the rocks at the spot where the Burnie railway station now stands.

The funeral took place at Stanley yesterday, when he was laid to rest in the shade of the Nut and by the sea that he loved so well. The attendance was very representative and included a good number of seafaring men. The chief mourners were the two sons, Walter and George, and Mr. J. W. Bainbridge, a relative from Melbourne. The pallbearers were Messrs. H. J. Emmett, F. Burgess, F. Ferguson, W. B. Collins, T. Wilkins and G. Cooper. The carriers were Messrs. D. G. Edwards, T. and J. Freeburgh and C. L. Wells.

Rev. A. Matheson, BA., officiated at the choral service at the church. At the close of his impressive address, Mrs. R. Campbell played the Dead March in Saul. There were many floral tributes, including a wreath from the Circular Head Marine Board, and among other tokens of sympathy was a telegram from the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons).

Captain Leggett's wife predeceased him in 1916 (February 11), and on the same day of the same mouth that he passed away.

He had a family of three. His daughter, the late Maude E. Leggett, M.A., was the first lady to obtain her Master's Degree at the Tasmanian University. His grand-daughter, Maude W. Leggett, has just completed her B.A. Degree at the same University.

He is survived by two sons, Mr. G. R. Leggett, B.A., of Elm street, Hawthorn, and Captain W. E. Leggett, J.P., of Stanley.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for Richard Leggett

Additional Resources

  • reminiscences, Advocate (Burnie, Tas), 28 February 1927, p 2
  • reminiscences, Australasian (Melbourne), 12 October 1929, p 6
  • turns 90, Advocate (Burnie, Tas), 28 February 1931, p 2

Citation details

'Leggett, Richard (1841–1934)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


28 February, 1841
Littlehampton, West Sussex, England


11 February, 1934 (aged 92)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

heat stroke

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.