The Rev Francis Leggatt

(creator: J S Fletcher)


J SFletcher
The Rev Francis Leggatt is the Vicar of Meddersley which is somewhere "away in the North" of England. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, "he was essentially a mathematical sort of person, precise, orderly, given to perfection of detail". He is happily married to Marian, and has been in his present parish ("The scattered population of which did not exceed fifty souls, all told") for nine years.

J(oseph) S(mith) Fletcher (1863-1935) was born, the son of a clergyman, in Halifax in Yorkshire, and educated at Silcoates School in Wakefield. He worked as a journalist in London, then returned north to work on the Leeds Mercury and Yorkshire Post, before becoming a full-time freelance writer of history and historical fiction. He was eventually made a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He wrote as many as 237 books, included an early series of books written in Yorkshire dialect. He produced the first of some120 detective novels in 1914, often taking just a few weeks to write each. One of them was much praised by American president Woodrow Wilson with the result that the author attracted many American readers, although he was not so well known in his native Yorkshire. His books do not have one consistent detective (although private investigator, Ronald Camberwell, appears in a number of later ones) and The Rev Francis Leggatt seems only to appear in the one story reviewed here. He was married to Rosamund, who was an author in her own right, and they had one son who became a clergyman.

Mr Leggatt Leaves His Card (1929)
Mr Leggatt Leaves His Card is set in the the 1920s. The Reverend Francis Leggatt is horrified to find that there has been a serious theft from his church: "The Hislip Chalice is gone". This was a priceless pre-Reformation Chalice that was, against the advice of the local archdeacon, kept in the church safe with the rest of the church plate. Mr Leggett realises that the only time it had been left unlocked was just after he had shown the church to a party of Sir Charles Leddingham's guests. But which of them was the guilty party?

Mr Leggett does not want to involve either his archdeacon or the police, but has "a brain-wave", as a result of which he pressurises the local postmistress to let him see who has recently been sending registered letters. This gives him the clue he needs, and it is not long before he has found his way into the guilty party's London flat, removed the Chalice, and left his visiting card. It makes a very neat and amusing story. What a pity that there were (apparently) no more stories featuring such an enterprising character!


There are informative articles about the author on the Gadetection and Yorkshire Post sites.

The anthology Murder in the Vicarage, edited by Rex Collings, 1991 (not to be confused with Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie) can still be found.



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Murder in the Vicarage cover
Murder in the Vicarage cover
I really Iike this cover! This anthology, Murder in the Vicarage, edited by Rex Collings, includes Mr Leggatt Leaves His Card, as does Best Detective Stories 2, edited by Edmund Crispin, The Best Detective Stories of 1929, edited by Ronald Knox and Henry Harrington, and Green Ink by J S Fletcher.
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