Stratford Hall and the Lees Connected with Its History
Colonel Richard Lee.
THE earliest record of the founder of the Lee family, in Virginia, is a letter written by William Lee in 1771, in which he said, among other things, “Richard Lee, of a good family in Shropshire,—some time in the Reign of King Charles, the First, went over to the Colony of Virginia, as Secretary and one of the King�s Privy Council,—He was a man of good stature, comely visage, and enterprising genius, a sound head, vigorous spirit and generous nature.
“When he got to Virginia, which was at that time not much cultivated, he was so pleased with the country, that he made large settlements there with the servants that he carried over. After some years, he returned to England and gave away all the lands he had taken up, and settled at his own expense, to those servants he had fixed on them, some of whose descendents are now possessed of very considerable property in the Colony. After staying some time in England, he returned again to Virginia with a fresh band of adventurers all of whom he settled there.”
An old tradition has stated that Richard Lee came to Virginia with a brother, that they settled in York County, that the brother became dissatisfied and desired to return home, that both of them gave up the lands they had settled and returned to England.
A part of this tradition seems to be confirmed, by a court record, which states, that a patent was granted to Robert Lee for 540 acres in Gloucester County, “Beginning at a red oak by Mr. Thornton�s path, and to a white oak by Col. Lee�s horse path and to a branch by the said Robert Lee�s plantation; 200 acres thereof formerly granted to Col. Richard Lee on the 17th day of May, 1655 and by him assigned to the said Robert Lee on the 5th day of February, 1657, and the remaining 340 acres for the transportation of seven persons, etc.”
Richard Lee first settled in York County and under date of August 10th, 1642, received a grant of 1000 acres. This was due, the patent states, “Unto the said Richard Lee by and for his own personal adventure by his wife Ann, and John Francis, and by assignment from Mr. Thomas Hill, Florintine Paine and William Freeman, of their right of land due for the transportation of seventeen persons.”
This was his first home in Virginia and he called his plantation “Paradise.”
Gloucester County was taken from York County in 1652 and this plantation was situated in that part which became Gloucester County, as the following record proves. On July 22d, 1674, a patent was issued to “Major Richard Lee for 1140 acres in Gloucester called ‘Paradise’ on a branch of Poropotank Creek; 1000 thereof being due to the said Richard Lee by two former patents, the residue now found to be within the bounds.” Here he had a store and a warehouse.
In 1646 Richard Lee sat on the York County Bench as Magistrate and represented York County as Burgess in 1647.
Richard Lee seems to have been engaged in commerce as well as agriculture as he had an interest in vessels trading between England and Virginia and made many voyages to and fro, being in England in 1654, 1655, 1659, 1661 and 1663.
In 1651 he represented Northumberland County as Burgess so he probably settled there about that time. This home was located on Dividing Creeks.
The main creek is about a mile long then divides into branches which makes several “necks”; on two of these he located his plantation.
The first of these granted was for 800 acres in 1651, the second for 600 acres in 1656. Tradition states that Richard Lee was the first white man to settle in the Northern Neck.
The various tracts of land taken up by Richard Lee helps to trace his movements after settling in Virginia and furnish, to some extent, a record of his official positions.
A grant of 1000 acres on Poropotank Creek, Aug. 10th, 1642, for his own personal adventure, his wife Ann, etc. Dec. 2d, 1644, ninety-one acres on New Poquoson Creek for the transportation of two persons into the Colony. 1250 acres on the York or Pamunky for assignment from William Freeman of his right and title to the transportation of twenty-five persons into the Colony, Dec. 21st, 1648.
October 18th, 1650, one thousand acres of “land situated upon the south side of the Potomack River beginning at the mouth of a small creek issuing out of a Matchoteck River,” etc. for the transportation of twenty persons, etc. This seems to be his first grant in what is now Westmoreland County.
On May 24th, 1651, he was granted 800 acres in Northumberland County for the transportation of sixteen persons into the Colony.
On May 24th, 1651, five hundred and fifty acres on the north side of York River. This patent shows that at this date Richard Lee was Secretary for the Colony.
On March 20th, 1653, three hundred acres north of the York River for the transportation of six persons into the Colony.
Nov. 14th, 1653, three hundred acres in Lancaster County on the south side of the Rappahannock River (now Middlesex County) for the transportation of six persons, etc.
May 17th, 1655, two hundred acres in Gloucester for the transportation of four persons, etc.
March 4th, 1656, six hundred acres in Northumberland County for the transportation of twelve persons, etc. This was the second grant on Dividing Creeks.
June 2d, 1656, eight hundred and fifty acres on Peanketank Swamp to William and Hancock Lee, sons of Col. Richard Lee, etc.
June 4th, 1656, five acres on Poropotank Creek “Whereon the store of the said Col. Lee standeth,” for the transportation of one person, etc., forty-five acres being still due.
June 5th, 1658, two thousand acres upon the south side of the Potomack River for the transportation of forty persons, etc.
March 26th, 1663, four thousand acres of land in Westmoreland County, etc. In this patent he is mentioned as Councillor of State, showing that he held this office on that date.
Dec. 1st, 1664, two thousand acres on the south side of the Potomack River for the transportation of twelve persons, etc.
Richard Lee was a most ardent royalist and supporter of the Stuarts, and when Charles II. was an exile, he made a voyage to Holland to visit him.
John Gibbon, who visited Richard Lee in 1659, wrote that Col. Lee had a fair estate in Virginia and that the product of his tobacco amounted to 2,000 pounds sterling ($10,000) per annum.
In 1663, while in England with his wife and children, Richard Lee made his will: He returned to Virginia in 1663, and while the exact date of his death is not known, it was probably early in 1664, as he died prior to April 20th, 1664, as on that date his son (John Lee) made application for 4,700 acres of land due his father, Col. Richard Lee, for the transportation of ninety-four persons into the Colony.
His will was probated in London, January 10th,
Richard Lee died at his home on Dividing Creeks, known as Cobb�s Hall, in Northumberland County, where he was buried, and while no evidence exists at this time, it was so stated in 1798 by Portia, daughter of William Lee.
Anne, wife of Col. Richard Lee, founder of the family in Virginia in 1641.
There is no record of the surname of Ann, wife of Richard Lee, and nothing is known of her history or that of her family. After Richard Lee�s death she married a Mr. Edmund Lister in 1666. The accepted relative ages of the children of Richard and Ann Lee are as follows:
I—John (2) see [below].