Thomas Legge Papers

Scope and Content

A small collection of papers relating to the physician Thomas Legge. The archive includes obituaries of Legge. There are also official reports published when he was Chief Inspector of Factories, as well as many manuscripts, typescripts and offprints of his lectures and writings. In addition, there is correspondence from his sister, Helen Edith Legge concerning her unsuccessful attempts to have his articles republished posthumously in a single volume. Several files of Legge's own correspondence are present; these mostly concern his articles and lectures.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Thomas Morison Legge was the first medical inspector factories, and an authority on industrial disease. He was born in Hong Kong on 6 January 1863, son of Professor James Legge, a missionary and noted Chinese scholar. He studied initially in Scotland at Dollar Academy, but transferred to Magdalen College School when his father was appointed the first holder of the chair of Chinese language and literature at the University of Oxford.

Despite poor health, Legge studied at Trinity College, Oxford, and graduated in natural sciences in 1884, and then trained in medicine at St.Bartholomew's Hospital. He graduated with the degrees of MB, BCh 1890, and received the MD in 1894.

Legge was interested in public health from the beginning of his career. He had taken a diploma in public health from Cambridge in 1893, and following this went on to tour the Continent, studying public health in various cities. He published his findings from this trip in 1896. From 1896 to 1898 Legge was secretary to the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis, and then in 1898 he became the first holder of the post of medical inspector of factories. Legge proved very energetic in studying diseases caused by lead powder and silica dust. He also raised the profile of industrial disease within the Home Office.

Legge was also influential in the academic study of industrial disease. He was lecturer in factory hygiene at the University of Manchester from 1910 until his death, and lecturer in industrial poisons at the London School of Hygiene. He also lectured at King's College London (1920-4) and University College, London (1922-9). In 1919 Legge was appointed to the Cutter Lectureship in Preventative Medicine, at Harvard University, which involved a lecture tour of North America. In 1923 he was the Royal College of Physicians' Bisset-Hawkins medalist.

Legge was appointed CBE in 1918, and knighted in 1925. He resigned from the Home Office in 1926 over inadequacy of regulations of lead poisoning. He later worked as an adviser to the TUC. Legge died at his home in Surrey, on 7 May 1932.


Not currently arranged into series. Box list arrangement.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information


Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History


Related Material

There is a biographical file for Legge in the Manchester Medical collection: MMC/2/Legge. See also the papers of Sydney H Henry, with whom Legge was associated (GB 133 SHE)