Lega-Weekes, Ethel Clelia

Miss Ethel Clelia Lega-Weekes

Ethel Lega-Weekes by Lafayette
half-plate film negative,
17 March 1927
NPG x41746
License: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0


Text published in DA Transactions, 1949.

MISS ETHEL CLELIA LEGA-WEEKES, F.R.HIST.S., died at Varnello, her home in Exeter, on 7th April, 1949, after a very short illness, aged 85. Born in London to an American father, Ansel Weekes, master mariner, by an English mother, Clelia Lega, née Fletcher, Miss Lega-Weekes, through her maternal grandparents, was descended from William Fletcher and Antonio Zombelli, the faithful servants of Lord Byron in Italy and Greece. Educated at Aramattapoisett, Mass., she came to England as a student in the art schools. Domestic influences, mainly those of her Italian grandmother, fostered her intense interest in mediaevalism. From genealogical research she gradually turned to the detail of local history. She settled with her mother (who kept her in perpetual tutelage) in Exeter, and made a close study of the civic and ecclesiastical history of the city.

Her best-known work is The Topography of the Close of Exeter. Of the “dry-as-dust” school, she was well acquainted with all relevant mediaeval writings, and was at all times a diligent investigator of minutiae. Perhaps the most valuable of the causes which she furthered was the preservation of the remains of Polsloe Priory. Behind the whole of her work was an elaborate slip-index of references. Herein lay both strength and weakness, since nothing was to be published except what could be proved as fact. In consequence she was often defeated by the deficiencies of the historical record. Much of her own work, then, she rejected as unsatisfactory, though such MSS. probably only needed reconstruction by a young fresh mind. We await a continuation of her valuable work.

One who knew her well describes her as an unconscious Platonist. Her life was Spartan; her mental activity never ceased; nor did the heart with which she fought against adverse circumstances ever flag.

She joined the Association in 1900, became a life member in 1902, and was a member of the Council for forty-five years. Her first contribution to the Transactions was The Old Mansion of North Wyke, 1900, and her last The Earliest-known Landholders of Throwleigh, 1940.

Papers published in DA’s Transactions

Year     Vol. Pages
1900 Miss Lega-Weekes The Old Mansion of North Wyke 32 195-206
1901 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes Neighbours of North Wyke 33 399-468
1902 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes Neighbours of North Wyke. Part II 34 578-647
1903 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes Neighbours of North Wyke. Part III 35 497-538
1904 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes Neighbours of North Wyke. Part IV 36 415-444
1905 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes Neighbours of North Wyke. Part V. Ash and South Zeal in South Tawton 37 325-374
1906 Miss E. Lega-Weekes The Accounts of the Head and Subsidiary Wardens of South Tawton 38 496-528
1907 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes The Churchwardens’ Accounts of South Tawton. Introduction (continued) 39 302-336
1908 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes Churchwardens’ Accounts of South Tawton. Part III 40 306-312
1909 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes County Armaments in Devon in the Sixteenth Century [extracts from South Tawton Churchwardens’ Accounts] 41 339-355
1909 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes Introduction to the Churchwardens’ Accounts of South Tawton. Part IV. 41 361-367
1912 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes An Account of the Hospitium de le Egle, Exeter, some Ancient Chapels in the Close, and some Persons connected therewith 44 480-511
1912 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes William Wykes, ‘First Recorder of Exeter’, and Wykes, Sheriff of Devon 44 561-567
1913 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes The Freemans of Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Bovey Tracey, etc. 45 450-454
1915 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes Prudom, Prodom, etc., of Exeter: and the First City Seal 47 248-256
1920 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes Saint Loye’s, East Wonford, Devon 52 360-366
1929 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes Gallants Bowers [Dartmouth] 61 237-248
1932 Miss Ethel Lega-Weekes The Bishop’s Chapel of St. Faith at Exeter 64 415-416
1934 Ethel Lega-Weekes The Pre-Reformation History of St. Katherine’s Priory, Polsloe 66 181-199
1935 Ethel Lega-Weekes The History of St. Katherine’s Priory, Polsloe, Part II 67 349-359
1937 Ethel Lega-Weekes History of St. Katherine’s Priory, Polsloe. Part III [continues 1935 paper] 69 447-470
1938 Ethel Lega-Weekes The History of St. Katherine’s Priory, Polsloe. Part IV. Polsloe Tithes 70 423-432
1940 Miss E. Lega-Weekes The Earliest Known Landowners of Throwleigh 72 185-190