Legh Tolson was born 5 November 1856 in Kirkheaton, the son of cloth manufacturer Robert Henry Tolson (1819-1888) and his wife Eliza (1825-1905) née Whiteley.
In 1888, shortly before the death of his father, he funded the new west window of the restored St. John the Baptist church at Kirkheaton. The following year, he was elected a churchwarden. In 1891, he paid for a "handsome carved oak screen" and "stalls finished in the same style" for the church, as well as for the parish registers ("which were in a sorely dilapidated condition") to be restored and then housed in a new "strong iron safe".
By the time of the 1891 Census, he was living with his widowed mother at 110 Ravensknowle Road, Dalton.
He married Charlotte Mary Thomas (1861-1912) in 1904 and then moved into part of Ravensknowle Hall. Charlotte Mary died in March 1912 and Tolson remarried in 1914 to Dorothy Lucy Bacon (c.1878-1958).
In the summer of 1919, Tolson approached the Huddersfield Corporation with the desire to gift both the Ravensknowle house and estate to the people of Huddersfield in order that they be turned into a museum and a park, and to act as a memorial to his nephews. Dr. T.W. Woodhead of the Huddersfield Technical College was placed in charge of the layout out of the museum, which was formally opened by Tolson on 27 May 1822.
In later life, he was involved with the Yorkshire Archaeological Society.
Legh Tolson died on 17 January 1932, aged 75, at Barton House, Pooley Bridge, Westmorland. His probate record listed effects in excess of £147,000.