Stratford Hall and the Lees Connected with Its History, by Frederick Warren Alexander, Fourth Generation

Stratford Hall and the Lees Connected with Its History

FOURTH GENERATION.

George Lee.

GEORGE 4, first son of Richard 3, (Richard 2, Richard 1), born in London August 18, 1714, and came to Virginia about 1736 and settled at “Mt. Pleasant” in Westmoreland County. On Sept. 30, 1738, he married Judith Wormley. She died June 8, 1751, leaving a daughter, Elizabeth. George Lee married again December 17, 1752, Mrs. Anne (Fairfax) Washington, widow of Lawrence Washington, of Mount Vernon. Lawrence Washington was half brother to George Washington, to whom he bequeathed Mount Vernon after his widow’s death. She died March 14, 1761, and he, November 19, 1761. He was deputy clerk of Westmoreland from 1740 to 1742 and clerk from. that date to his death. He was Burgess in 1748–1751, and a justice in 1737.

George Lee and Judith (Wormley) Lee his first wife had:

I—Richard 5 born August 13, 1739, died in infancy.

II—Elizabeth 5 born Nov. 21, 1750, died unmarried May 19, 1828.

By Anne (widow of Lawrence Washington) his second wife he had:

III—George Fairfax 5 born at Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland Co., Feb. 24, 1754, died there Dec. 1804. He married . . . (widow of Dr. Travers and had several children but none lived to marry except a daughter Louisa who married John Tasker Carter and died without issue. He is buried with his wife and children at Mount Pleasant Garden, Westmoreland County.

IV—Lancelot 5 born at Mt. Pleasant Westmoreland County, Jan. 19, 1756. By his first wife Mary (Jones) Lee he had:

1 Lancelot Bathurst 6 who died unmarried in Charleston, S.C.

2 Sallie Fairfax 6 who married Robert Sangster.

3 Elizabeth 6 who married Col. James Chipley.

4 Nancy 6 who married Richard Cockrell.

5 Thomas 6 married but wife unknown family tradition claims he had three sons, George W. Lee 7, Phillip De Catesby Lee 7 and Wm. F. Lee 7.

V—William 5 born Nov. 17, 1758 died unmarried May 19, 1838.


Hon. Philip Ludwell Lee.

Philip Ludwell Lee 4 second child of Thomas 3 (Richard 2, Richard 1), was born at Stratford Feb. 24, 1726–7, and died Feb. 21, 1775. Tradition has always claimed that all the sons of Thomas were born at Stratford.

Mr. Lee was educated in England and studied law at the “Inner Temple,” London.

As heir-at-law of his father, Philip Ludwell inherited the larger share of his estate, and was charged with the care and education of his younger brothers. These lands were in Westmoreland, Northumberland, on the eastern shore of Maryland, two islands in the Potomac, and some lands up the river above the Falls of the Potomac. It has been said that Thomas Lee, many years before, had taken up land on the upper Potomac, above the sight of the present location of Georgetown, believing that some day the Colonies would become independent of Great Britain, and that the new nation would locate its capital on the Potomac near these falls! This story seems rather improbable, one might have prophesied that the growing Colonies would one day form themselves into a new nation, but that one could so far in advance predict the location of its capital is rather unlikely. At any rate, prophet or no prophet, Thomas Lee did locate a claim only a few miles above the present city of Washington. (Lee of Va. 165-166.)

In 1757, Loudoun County was formed from Fairfax, and included in its borders some of Philip Ludwell Lee’s lands; “Leesburg, the county seat, . . . was named from the Lee family, who were among the early settlers of the county; it was established in September, 1758, in the thirty-second year of the reign of George II. Mr. Nicholas Minor, who owned the sixty acres around the court-house, had them laid off into streets and lots, some of which, at the passage of the act, had been built upon. The act constituted the Hon. Philip Ludwell Lee, Esqr., Thomas Mason, Esqr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, James Hamilton, Nicholas Minor, Josiah Clapham, Aeneas Campbell, John Hugh, Francis Hague, and William West, gentlemen, the trustees of the town.” (Howe’s HISTORY OF VIRGINIA, 353.)

Philip Ludwell Lee was a member of the House of Burgesses (30th March, 1756). and succeeded his father as member of the Council; apparently he was the secretary of the Council on the 18th of June, 1770, when a “list of Books necessary for the Council Chamber” was made out by him; the list included reports of Parliament, histories, philosophical transactions, Demosthenes’ orations, and the like.

Philip Ludwell Lee married (about 1761–2) Elizabeth, second daughter of James Steptoe, of Westmoreland, and left three children. His widow married Philip Richard Fendall, and died about June, 1789.

On the 19th of April 1782, the report of the appraisement and division of Philip Ludwell Lee’s estate was filed; the land consisted of 6,595 acres, mentioned as “the Clifts, Stratford, and All Hallows”; the mansion house with its offices, and 1,800 acres were allotted Mrs. Fendall; the remaining two-thirds reserved for the two daughters, the son having died. On the 30th of May, 1780, 1,352 pounds sterling, currency, one-third dower, was paid to Philip Richard Fendall, for “Mrs. Fendall.” (Lee of Va. 167).

The children of Philip Ludwell and Elizabeth (Steptoe) Lee were:

I—Matilda 5, born at Stratford, married her cousin,
Henry Lee, (Light Horse Harry).

II—Flora 5, born at Stratford, married her cousin, Ludwell Lee the second son of Richard Henry Lee, of Chantilly.

III—Philip 5, born Feb. 24, 1775, died in infancy.

Thomas Ludwell Lee.

Thomas Ludwell 4, sixth child of Thomas 3, (Richard 2, Richard 1) born at Stratford, Dec. 13, 1730, and died at his home, “Bellevue,” in Stafford County, April 13, 1778, of rheumatic fever. Little is recorded of his early life but he probably was educated in England, like most of his brothers, and, no doubt, studied law there.

Mr. Lee was spoken of as “the most popular man in Virginia, and the delight of the eyes of every Virginian.” He was averse to public positions and held none outside of Virginia. At the time of his death he was one of the members of the General Court.

“Thomas Ludwell Lee and Richard Henry Lee were brothers. Thomas Ludwell, the elder of the two, held a conspicious position as a patriot and lawyer, and died before the close of the war, but not until he had filled the most responsible trusts with fidelity and honor. He had been a member of the House of Burgesses, was a member of the Convention of July and December, 1775, and was chosen a member of the Committee of Safety. He took his seat in the Convention now sitting as a member from Stafford, and was placed on the committee appointed to draft a declaration of rights, and a plan of government. On the organization of a new government under the Constitution, he was appointed one of the five Revisors, and later elected one of the five judges of the General Court.” Lee of Va. 169.

Thomas Ludwell Lee was an ardent supporter of the Colonies against the encroachment of the British ministry, as the following extract from a letter to his brother, Richard Henry Lee, then attending Congress at Philadelphia shows. Writing from Williamsburg, under date of May 18th, 1776, he said:

Enclosed you have some pointed resolves which passed our convention to the infinite joy of the people here. The preamble is not to be admired in point of composition, nor has the resolve for independency that peremptory and decided air which I could wish. Perhaps the proviso, which reserves to this Colony the power of forming its own government, may be questionable as to its fitness. Would not a uniform plan of government prepared for America by the Congress and approved by the Colonies be a surer foundation of increasing harmony to the whole? However, such as they are, the exultation here was extreme. The British flag was immediately struck on the Capitol, and Continental hoisted in its room. The troops were drawn out, and we had a discharge of artillery and small arms. You have also a set of resolves offered by Col. M. Smith; but the first, which were proposed the second day by the President, for the debate lasted two days, were preferred. These he had formed from the resolves and preambles of the first day, baldy put together. Col. Mason came to town yesterday after the arrival of the post. I showed him your letter, and he thinks with me that your presence here is of the last consequence. He designs to tell you so by letter to-day. All your friends agree in this opinion. Col. Nelson is on his way to Congress, which removes the objection respecting a quorum of delegates. To form a plan of just and equal government would not perhaps be so very difficult; but to preserve it from being mar’d with a thousand impertinences, from being in the end a jumble of discord, unintelligible parts, will demand the protecting hand of a master. I cannot recollect with precision the quantity of lead which we have received from the mines, though I think it about ten tons.

The works are now carried on by the public on a large scale, and no doubt is entertained here that a full supply for the continent may be had from thence, by increasing the number of hands. In my next you shall have a more accurate acc’t. The fast was observed with all due solemnity yesterday. The delegates met at the Capitol and went in procession to hear a sermon by appointment of the Convention. Corbin and Wormeley. . . . the first to an estate his father has in Caroline, the other to his plantation in Berkley. Adieu my dear Brother, give my love to Loudoun, and let us have the satisfaction to see you assisting in the great work of this convention.

The “resolves,” which did not have the “peremptory and decided air” that Mr. Lee desired, were passed by the Virginia Convention on May 15th, 1776, and were as follows:

Resolved, That the delegates appointed to represent this Colony in General Congress, be instructed to propose to that respectable body, to declare the united colonies free and independent states, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence on the crown or parliament of Great Britain; and that they give the assent of this Colony to such declaration, and whatever measures may be thought necessary Congress for forming foreign alliances, and a confederation of the colonies, at such time and in the manner that to them shall seem best: provided, that the power of forming governments for, and the regulations of the internal concerns of each colony, be left to the colonial legislatures.

Thomas Ludwell Lee married Mary, daughter of William Aylett, probably of Prince William. They had the following issue:

I—Thomas Ludwell 5, see [below].

II—William Aylette 5, died young and unmarried.

III—George 5, see [below].

IV—Anne Fenton 5, born . . . died . . . married Jan. 3, 1782, Daniel Carroll Brent, of “Richland,” Stafford County, and had twelve children.

V—Lucinda 5, born. . . . died. . . .; married Dr. John Dalrymple Orr, of Prince William County, and left issue.

VI—Rebecca 5, died unmarried.


Richard Henry Lee.

Richard Henry Lee 4, seventh child of Thomas 3 (Richard 2, Richard 1), was born at Stratford, Westmoreland County, Jan. 20, 1732, and died at his home, Chantilly, in the same county, on June 19, 1794. After a course of private tuition at home, Mr. Lee was sent to the Wakefield Academy, in Yorkshire, England; on leaving that school he made a brief tour of Northern Europe, and returned to Virginia, being then only nineteen years old. For some years, probably until his marriage, he resided with his eldest brother, at Stratford, and passed the time, it is said, in diligent reading of the ancient classics and modem histories. Such a range of study seemed to be chosen, as if by intuition, to prepare him for the part he was destined afterward to take in the struggle between England and her American colonies. His taste for the classics was constantly displayed in after life by the frequent and appropriate quotations he made from them to enrich his diction or to fortify his argument.

The greater part of the estate left Mr. Lee by his father was located in Prince William County, but he continued after his marriage to reside in Westmoreland. It is said his eldest brother was so devoted to him that he would not consent to have him settle far away from Stratford. So, when Richard Henry was about to establish a home for himself, his brother insisted that he should build near Stratford, and leased him, for the purpose, the estate called “Chantilly.” It appears this name was given it by Richard Henry, and that the estate was formerly known as “Hollis’ Marsh.” It was situated about three miles below Stratford, and also on the Potomac River. Later in life, Mr. Lee paid a rental for it to General Henry Lee, and mentions in his own will that he only held the estate on a lease.

When about twenty-three, Mr. Lee raised a company to join General Braddock in his ill-fated expedition against the French and Indians; their aid was declined by the haughty Englishman, who had no use for provincials. So, perhaps, Braddock preserved Mr. Lee’s life for a future of greater usefulness. A few years later, when about twenty-five, Mr. Lee was appointed a Justice for Westmoreland, a position of influence and much sought after in those days. He so impressed his colleagues on the bench with his special fitness for the duties of the position, that they petitioned the governor to antedate his commission that he might be chosen their presiding officer. It was about this date (1757) that he made his first appearance in the political arena, by being chosen a member of the House of Burgesses. He continued a member of that body, when not in Congress, until 1792, when he finally retired from active public life.

“Like his brother, Thomas Ludwell, he was oppressed with a natural diffidence, which was heightened by a contemplation of the dignified intellects who surrounded him, and for one or two sessions he took no part in their debates.” His first effort in that body was a speech against the importation of slaves into the Colony; the proposition was “to lay so heavy a tax upon the importation of slaves as effectually to put an end to that iniquitous and disgraceful traffic within the Colony.” This trade was continually the object of repressive legislation by the early Virginians. Mr. Lee’s speech on this proposition proved him to possess keen foresight, and to have thus early discovered this dangerous rock, upon which the future Republic was destined to be so nearly wrecked. His opening words were:

Sir, as the consequences of the determination we must make in the subject of this day’s debate will greatly affect posterity, as well as ourselves, it surely merits our most serious attention. And well am I persuaded, Sir, that if it be so considered, it will appear both from reason and experience, that the importation of Slaves into this Colony has been and will be attended with affects dangerous both to our political and moral interests. When it is observed that some of our neighboring Colonies, though much later than ourselves in point of settlement, are now far before us in improvement, to what, Sir, can we attribute this strange, this unhappy truth? The reason seems to be this: THAT WITH THEIR WHITES THEY IMPORT ARTS AND AGRICULTURE, WHI1ST WE WITH OUR BLACKS EXCLUDE BOTH.

After alluding to the dangers of survile wars, etc., he added:

Nor, Sir, are these the only reasons to be urged against the importation. In my opinion, not the cruelties practiced in the conquest of Spanish America, not the savage barbarity of the Saracen, can be more big with atrocity than our cruel trade to Africa. There we encourage those poor, ignorant people to wage eternal war against each other; not nation against nation, but father against son, children against parents, and brothers against brothers, whereby parental, filial, and fraternal duty is terribly violated; that by war, stealth, or surprise we CHRISTIANS may be furnished with our FELLOW-CREATURES, who are no longer considered as created in the image of God as well as ourselves, and equally entitled to liberty and freedom by the great law of nature; but they are to be deprived, forever deprived, of all the comforts of life, and to be made the most wretched of the human kind. I have seen it observed by a great writer that Christianity, by introducing into Europe the truest principles of humanity, universal benevolence, and brotherly love, had happily abolished civil slavery. Let us, who profess the same religion, practice its precepts, and, by agreeing to this duty, convince the world that we know and practice our truest interests and that we pay a proper regard to the dictates of justice and humanity.

When the Stamp Act was first passed he moved in the House of Burgesses for the address to his Majesty, the Memorial to the Lords, and the remonstrance to the House of Commons, served on the committee appointed to prepare them, and wrote the first and last paper.

WESTMORELAND RESOLUTION.

In 1766, the next year after the Stamp Act was passed and ten years prior to the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry Lee received a letter from his brother Thomas Ludwell Lee, which said among other things, “We propose to be in Leedstown in the afternoon of the 27th inst., (Feb. 1766,) where we expect to meet those who will come from your way.”

[“]This would be a fine opportunity to effect the
scheme of an association, and I should be glad if
you would think of a plan.”

On the day specified our Patriotic Fathers rode into that ancient village and there formed an Association and solemnly bound themselves in an agreement and signed by one hundred and fifteen men.

The agreement was written by Richard Henry Lee and reads:

We who subscribe this paper, have associated and do bind ourselves to each other, to God and to our country, by the firmest ties that religion and virtue can frame, most sacredly and punctually to stand by and, with our lives and fortunes, to support, maintain and defend each other in the observance and execution of “articles” among which was this: As the Stamp Act does absolutely direct the property of the people to be taken from them without their consent, expressed by their representatives, and as in many cases it deprives the British-American subject of his rights to trial by jury, we do determine at every hazard, and paying no regard to danger or to death, we will exert every faculty to prevent the execution of the said Stamp Act in any instance whatsoever within this colony. And every abandoned wretch who shall be so lost to virtue and public good as wickedly to contribute to the introduction or fixture of the Stamp Act in this colony by using stamp paper, or by any other means, we will, with the utmost expedition, convince all such profligates that immediate danger and disgrace shall attend their prostitute purposes.

On August 1st, 1774, delegates from the several counties met at Williamsburg, discussed their grievances, declared their rights, and elected delegates to. a general Congress, of all the Colonies to meet in Philadelphia, Pa., September 4th, 1774.

The following memorandum, in General Washington’s writing, doubtless gives the result of the balloting in this Convention for these delegates. The original paper is in the possession of the Pennsylvania Historical Society: Peyton Randolph, 104; R. H. Lee, 100; Geo. Washington, 98; Pat. Henry, 89; Richard Bland, 79; Ben. Harrison, 66; Edmd. Pendleton, 62.

The first Constitutional Congress met in Carpenter’s Hall, on Chestnut Street, Philadelphia; its convening had been in many ways prepared for by correspondence between the leading patriots in the different colonies. Mr. Lee had been an early advocate of this correspondence; he wrote (under date of July 25th, 1768) to John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania, suggesting not only that select committees should be appointed for this purpose, “but that private correspondence should be conducted between the lovers of liberty in every province.” In 1775, the Virginia Assembly (Massachusetts took similar action about the same date) appointed “a Committee of Correspondence,” of which Mr. Lee was a member. The first voice raised in this Congress was that of Patrick Henry, who, in a speech, it is said, of impassioned eloquence, unfolded to his anxious listeners the perils and the duties of the hour. The second speaker was Richard Henry Lee, who, supplementing and enlarging upon Henry’s words, impressed the members with his wisdom and sagacity. Such evidently was the result of his eloquence, for he immediately took a leading place in that body, composed as it was of the ablest and wisest of all Americans. Joseph Read, a fellow member, wrote of the Virginians: “There are some fine fellows come from Virginia, but they are very high. The Bostonians are mere milksops to them. We understand they are the capital men of the Colony, both in fortune and understanding.” Some one has said that the delegates from Virginia are “carefully selected, and represented in Richard Henry Lee and Patrick Henry, oratory and eloquence; in George Washington, the soldier; in Richard Bland, the finished writer; in Benjamin Harrison, the wealthy and influential planter; in Edmund Pendleton, the man of law; in Peyton Randolph, solidity of character.”

Mr. Lee was an active and energetic member of many of the leading committees of this Congress; from his pen emanated the memorial of the Congress to the people of British America, which has been generally considered a masterly document. Being a member of the next Congress, he wrote their address to the people of Great Britain, also a masterly state paper. As chairman of the committee, he drew up the instructions of Congress to General Washington upon his assuming command of the army. His most important and distinguished service was rendered on June 7th, 1776, when, in accordance with the instructions of the Virginia Convention, and at the request of his colleagues, he proposed the resolutions for the independence of the Colonies; of which resolution a FAC SIMILE is given below.


ORIGINAL PAPER IS PRESERVED IN THE ARCHIVES OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT AT WASHINGTON.

This motion was seconded by John Adams, of Massachusetts; the discussion upon its adoption continued until the 10th of June, when a committee was appointed to prepare a declaration, in accordance with this motion. Mr. Lee’s speech advocating his resolution has not been preserved but tradition states that it was an effort worthy of the occasion. His biographer has given these concluding sentences:

Why then, Sir, do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic! Let her arise, not to devastate and conquer, but to re-establish the reign of peace and law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom, that may exhibit a contrast, in the felicity of the citizen, to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum, where the unhappy may find solace and the persecuted repose. She entreats us to cultivate a propitious soil, where that generous plant, which first sprung and grew in England, but is now withered by the poisonous blasts of Scottish tyranny, may revive and flourish, sheltering under its salubrious and interminable shade, all the unfortunate of the human race. If we are not this day wanting in our duty to our country, the names of the American legislators of ’76 will be placed by posterity at the side of Theseus, of Lycurgus, of Romulus, of Numa, of the three Williams, of Nassau, and of all those whose memory has been, and forever will be, dear to virtuous men and good citizens.

It is the uniform rule of all deliberative bodies to appoint the member who has offered the resolution would have been chosen chairman of the committee for the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, had he been present. On the evening of the 10th of June, he received word of the serious illness of his wife; he left Philadelphia to visit her on the very day this committee was appointed. Thus an accidental sickness in his family probably deprived him of the signal honor of being the author as well as the mover of the Declaration of American Independence. It is said that the English papers, which gave the first intelligence of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, headed their columns with this line:

Richard Henry Lee and Patrick Henry have at last accomplished their object: The colonies have declared themselves independent of the mother country.

Mr. Lee’s grandson stated that Governor Johnson, of Maryland, told him “that shortly after the war, he heard from an English gentleman of great respectability who lived in London during the Revolution, and who had opportunities of hearing a good deal of the plans and intentions of the ministry, that they had intended, in the event of the reduction of the colonies, to have demanded the delivery of General Washington and Richard Henry Lee, and to have them executed as principle rebels.”

Mr. Lee continued to serve in Congress for many years, being a member in 1778-80-84-87, and was one of the signers of the articles of confederation in 1778. During the sessions of 1784, he occupied the chair as President, being, it is said, the unanimous choice of all the delegates present. Some idea of his activity and of his almost incessant labors, may be gathered from the fact of his having served upon nearly one hundred committees during the sessions of 1776–77. Lee of Va. 176-177-178-181.

The following resolution was passed by the Virginia Assembly in 1777.

Resolved, That the thanks of this House be given by the Speaker, to Richard Henry Lee, Esq., for the faithful service he has rendered to his country, in discharge of his duty, as one of the delegates from this State in general Congress.

Mr. Lee opposed the adoption of the Constitution of 1787 ; in this opposition he was in agreement with George Mason, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, and others in Virginia, and many of the ablest patriots of the time in other States. But, after the ratification of the Constitution he consented to serve as one of the Senators from Virginia, mainly for the purpose of securing some amendments which he believed to be needed; many of these he was instrumental in securing. After many years of active service in Congress, and all the while a member of the Virginia Assembly, he finally, in 1792, retired from public life. Both branches of the Virginia Assembly gave him a vote of thanks for his patriotic services.

Richard Henry Lee, with his brothers, was a devoted personal, as well as political friend of George Washington; and, if one may judge by the tenor of the correspondence which passed between Washington and the Lees, this affection was cordially returned by Washington. One of the last letters upon public affairs written by Mr. Lee was to Washington; in it he most cordially and heartily indorsed the administration of the President.

The Virginians seem[e]d especially anxious that Mr. Lee should attend their convention, when it met to frame a constitution. Jefferson wrote (July 8th, 1776) : “I shall return to Virginia after the 11th of August. I wish my successor may be certain to come before that time: in that case, I shall hope to see you, and not Wythe, in convention, that the business of the government, which is of everlasting concern, may receive your aid.”

John Page of “Rosewell,” wrote “. . . I would to God you could be here at the next Convention. . . . If you could, make no doubt you might easily prevail on the Convention to declare for Independency and establish a form of government.”

George Mason, of “Gunston,” wrote: “. . .I need not tell you how much you will be wanted here on this occasion. I speak with the sincerity of a friend when I assure you, that in my opinion, your presence cannot, must not be dispensed with. We cannot do without you.”

Mr. Lee had been most urgent in the demand that no treaty should be made with England that did not allow to America the free navigation of the Mississippi and the right of fishing, etc., on the Banks of Newfoundland, etc. For this the New England States were very grateful to him, as is shown in this letter:

Portsmouth, N.H., April 17th, 1783. My dear Sir:—I cannot omit an opportunity that offers by a vessel bound to Virginia, to congratulate you on the happy event which, for many years, has been the great object of my labors and anxious cares. The very unequivocal part you, my dear friend, have taken, in this great resolution, must furnish your hours of retirement with the most pleasing reflections. Though the terms may not be, in all respects, exactly conformable to our wishes, they are, perhaps, equal to what we had a right to expect, all things being considered.

My happiness is greatly increased by this joyous event, as i t opens a prospect of seeing you here. I already anticipate the pleasure of recapitulating with you those private as well as public consultations, in which you took so eminent a part, and which have produced such happy effects. This country, my dear sir, is very particularly obliged for your exertions to secure the most valuable branch of her trade, the fisheries. As a small token of my sense of the obligation, I must beg your acceptance of a quintal of fish, which, I think, is of the best quality. With very particular attachment, and the greatest respect, I am, my dear sir, your most affectionate friend and humble servant.

(Signed) WM. WHIPPLE.

Both Samuel and John Adams expressed themselves frequently in a similar manner; indeed, such was the common tenor of the letters received by this patriot. No man of the period appears to have been held in greater esteem by those whose good opinion was at once a tribute to merit and an honor to be coveted. John Adams noted in his “diary” his impressions of the various men he met at different times, and had this to say of his first meetings with Mr. Lee—and time seems rather to have increased than diminished his good opinion of the Lees.

Saturday, September 3rd, 1774. “Breakfasted at Dr. Shippen’s; Dr. Witherspoon was there. Col. R. H. Lee lodges there; he is a masterly man. This Mr. Lee is a brother of the sheriff of London, and of Dr. Arthur Lee, and of Mrs. Shippen; they are all sensible and deep thinkers. Lee is for making the repeal of every revenue law-the Boston Port Bill, the bill for altering the Massachusetts Constitution, and the Quebec Bill and the removal of all troops-the end of the Congress, and an abstinence from all dutied articles, this means; rum, molasses, sugar, tea, wine; fruits, etc. He is absolutely certain that the same ship which carries home the resolution will bring back the redress. If we were to suppose that any time would intervene, he should be for exceptions. He thinks we should inform his Majesty that we never can be happy while the Lords Bute, Mansfield and North are his confidents and counsellors. He took his pen and attempted a calculation of the numbers of people represented by the Congress, which he made about two millions and two hundred thousand; and of revenue, now actually raised, which he made eighty thousand pounds sterling. He would not allow Lord North to have great abilities; he had seen no symptoms of them; his whole administration had been a blunder. He said the opposition had been feeble and incompetent before, that this was time to make vigorous exertions.”

Mr. Grigsby, in his DISCOURSE ON THE VIRGINIA CONVENTION OF 1776, has said of him:

Among the patriotic names distinguished in our early councils none is invested with a purer luster than the name of Lee. It is radiant with the glory of the Revolution. It has been illustrated by the sword, by the pen, and by the tongue. And in the Convention, now sitting, were two brothers* who bore the name, and who impressed upon it a dignity, which, prominent as it had been for more than a century of Colonial history, it had never borne before.

Henry Lee, the eldest son of General Henry Lee, is responsible for this story concerning Mr. Lee. “During the War of the Revolution, and, I believe, while Mr. Jefferson was Governor of Virginia, a British squadron which had been scouring the waters and wasting the shores of the Chesapeake, taking advantage of a favorable breeze, suddenly came-to off the coast of Virginia, where the majestic cliffs of Westmoreland overlook the stormy and sea-like Potomac. Mr. Lee was at that time on one of those visits to his family, with which, from the permanent sitting of Congress, the members were of necessity occasionally accommodated. He hastily collected from the nearest circle of his neighbors a small and ill-armed band, repaired at their head to the point on which the enemy had commenced a descent, and without regard to his inferiority of means and numbers, instantly attacked them. He drove the party on shore back into their barges, and held them aloof until ships were brought to cover the landing with round shot and shells, which he had no means of returning. Then as he was the first in advance so he was the last to retire; as the men who were with him have, since his death, often said. Several of the hostile party were killed or wounded, among them an officer, whom they carried off. One man they buried on the shore. In a grove of aged beech trees, not far from Mr. Lee’s residence, rest the remains of this unknown and unforgotten foe.”

* Richard Henry Lee, Francis Lightfoot Lee.

At the present time there is shown at Stratford one of these round shot, which tradition says was fired at the house by an English warship; how much of the truth there is in this tradition cannot be ascertained.

Bishop Meade has left his estimate of Mr. Lee’s character and public services in these words:

In looking over the two volumes containing the life and correspondence of Richard Henry Lee, of Chantilly, in Westmoreland, the reader cannot fail to ask himself the question, “Was there a man in the Union who did more in his own county and State and country, by action at home and correspondence abroad, to prepare the people of the United States for the opposition to English usurpation, and the assertion of American independence ? Was there a man in America who toiled and endured more than he, both in body and in mind, in the American cause? Was there a man in the Legislature of Virginia, and in the Congress of the Union, who had the pen of a ready writer so continually in his hand, and to which so many public papers may be justly ascribed, and by whom so much hard work in committee-rooms was performed?” To him must be assigned the honourable but perilous duty of first moving in our American Congress, “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” Nor is it at all wonderful that one who was conversant with the plans and intentions of the English ministry should have declared that, in the event of the reduction of the Colonies, the delivery of General Washington and Richard Henry Lee would be demanded, in order for their execution as rebels. Although the great principles of religion and morality rest on infinitely higher ground than the opinion of the greatest and best of men, yet it is most gratifying to find them sustained in the writings and actions of such men as Richard Henry Lee.

His biographer says that he had early studied the evidences of the Christian religion, and had through life avowed his belief in its divine origin. He was a member of the Episcopal Church in full communion, and took a deep interest in its welfare. His attachment to the church of his father was evinced by the interest he took in seeking to obtain consecration for our Bishops, immediately after the war, and when he was President of Congress, Twice were thanks returned to him by our General Convention for his services. Mr. Lee was a decided advocate of the appointment of public acts of supplication and thanksgiving to Almighty God in times of adversity and prosperity. When all was dark and lowering in our political horizon, and when it was proposed that, as one means of propitiating the favor of God, it should be recommended to the different States to take the most effectual means for encouraging religion and good morals, and for suppressing “theatrical entertainments, horse-racing, gaming, and such other diversions as are productive of idleness, dissipation, and a general depravity of manners,” while some voted against the measure, Mr. Lee was found in company with the most pious men of the land in favor of it, and it was carried by a large majority. Again, when by the capture of Burgoyne’s army the hearts of Americans were cheered, we find Mr. Lee one of a committee drafting a preamble and resolutions, which is believed to be from his own pen, in the following pious strain:

Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God, to acknowledge with gratitude their obligations to Him for the benefits received, and to implore such further blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased Him in His abundant mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of His Common providence, but also to smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war for the independence and establishment of our inalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that He hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our arms, and crown them with the most signal success; it is therefore recommended to the Legislature and the executive powers of these States, to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the people may express the feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor; and, together with their sincere thanks, acknowledgements and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they have forfeited every favour, and their earnest and humble supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please God, graciously to shower his blessings on the Government of these states respectively and to prosper the public council of the whole United States; to inspire our Commanders, both by land an sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments under the providence of Almighty God to secure for these United States the great test of all blessings, Independance and Peace, that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labor of the husbandmen that our land may yield its increase to protect schools and seminaries of learning so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue, and piety under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of the kingdom which consists of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

It is further recommended that all servile labor and such recreation as at other times innocent, may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment on so solemn an occasion.

This historic document was adopted by Congress October 30th, 1777 and sent to the Governors of the respective states on the 1st of November.

The question about paying debts in depreciated currency came on, Mr. Lee evinced his high and honorable sense of morality in the earnest and eloquent opposition made to it. He declared that nothing so deeply distressed him as a proposition which he regarded as a violation of honesty and good faith among men, and said that it “would have been better to have remained the honest slaves of Britain, than dishonest freemen.”

Of Richard Henry Lee’s personal appearance and of his style of oratory one or two descriptions by contemporaries may be given William Wirt wrote:

His face was on the Roman model; his nose Caesarean; the port and carriage of his head, leaning persuasively and gracefully forward; and the whole contour, noble and fine. He has studied the classics in the true spirit of criticism. His taste had that delicate touch which seized with intuitive certainty every beauty of an author, and his genius that native affinity which combined them without an effort. Into every walk of literature and science he had carried this mind of exquisite selection, and brought it back to the business of life, crowned with every light of learning and decked with every wreath that all the muses and all the graces could entwine. Nor did these light decorations constitute the whole value of its freight. He posses[s]ed a rich store of historical and political knowledge, with an activity of observation and a certainty of judgment which turned that knowledge to the very best account. He was not a lawyer by profession, but he understood thoroughly the Constitution, both of the mother country and of her colonies; and the elements also of the civil and municipal law. Thus, while his eloquence was free from those stiff and technical restraints which the habits of forensic speaking are apt to generate, he had all the legal learning which was necessary to a statesman. He reasoned well and declaimed freely and splendidly. The note of his voice was deep and melodious. It was the canorous voice of Cicero. He had lost the use of one of his hands which he kept constantly covered with a black silk bandage, neatly fitted to the palm of his hand, but leaving his thumb free; yet, notwithstanding this disadvantage, his gesture was so graceful and highly finished that it is said he had acquired it by practising before a mirror. Such was his promptitude that he required no preparation for debate. He was ready for any subject as soon as it was announced; and his speech was so copious, so rich, so mellifluous, set off with such bewitching cadence of voice and such captivating grace of action that, while you listened to him, you desired to hear nothing superior, and indeed thought him perfect. He had a quick sensibility and a fervid imagination.

Dr. Rush said of him:

I never knew so great an orator whose speeches were so short. Indeed, I might almost say that he could not speak long. He had conceived his subject so clearly, and presented it so immediately to his hearers, that there appeared nothing more to be said about it. He did not use figures to ornament discourse, but made them the vehicles of argument.

John Adams wrote, February 24th, 1821, to a grandson of R. H. Lee:

With your grandfather, Richard Henry Lee, I served in Congress from 1774 to 1778, and afterward in the Senate of the United States in 1789. He was a gentleman of fine talents, of amiable manners and great worth. As a public speaker, he had a fluency as easy and graceful as melodious, which his classical education enabled him to decorate with frequent allusion to the finest passages of antiquity. With all his brothers, he was always devoted to the cause of his country.

Mr. Lee’s will, dated June 18th, 1793, was probated in Westmoreland County, June 24th, 1794.

Mr. Lee died two years after retiring from public life; his constitution had been enfeebled by his long and arduous labors. He was troubled much with gout, which attacked the abdominal viscera, and caused him great suffering, but, though his body had become feeble, his mind retained its vigor. He breathed his last at Chantilly, June 19th, 1794, and was buried in the old family burial place, at the “Burnt House Fields,” Mt. Pleasant, as he desired in his will.

Of the home of Richard Henry Lee, little is known. Thomas Lee Shippen, when describing his visit to Westmoreland, wrote his father that Chantilly “commands a much finer view than Stratford by reason of a large bay into which the Potomac forms itself opposite Chantilly. . . . The. house is rather commodious than elegant. The sitting-room which is very well ornamented, is 18 x 30 feet, and the dining-room 20 x 24.” From the inventory and appraisement of the furniture, etc., at Chantilly, it is learned that there was a dining-room, library, parlor, and chamber on the first floor. The hall being, as was usual, furnished as a sitting-room, contained a mahogany desk, twelve arm chairs, a round and a square table, a covered walnut table, two boxes of tools, and a trumpet. On the second floor there were four large chambers and a small one at the head of the stairs: two rooms on the third floor; store rooms and closets. The outbuildings mentioned were, kitchen, dairy, blacksmith shop, stable, and barn. The enumeration of the books in the library showed about 500 separate works, on science, history, politics, medicine, farming, etc., etc., which were appraised at 229 pounds, 10 shillings and 7 pence. Of money in the house at the time of his death, there were $54 in silver, valued at 16 pounds 4 shillings; in bank of Alexandria, 181 pounds, 19 shillings, 7 pence; “Tobacco notes” for 13,907 pounds, nett.

Richard Henry Lee was twice married; first, on December 3rd, 1757, to Anne Aylett, who was probably a daughter, or granddaughter, of William and Anne Aylett, of King William County; she died December 12th, 1768, leaving four young children, and was buried, as was stated in her husband’s will, at Mt. Pleasant. But a monument was placed in the old church at Nominy, to her memory–another instance of a person, buried in the old family burying-ground, while a tablet to her memory was placed in a church some miles off. The old Nominy church stood upon a slight hill overlooking Nominy Creek, and was about five miles from Mt. Pleasant, and about the same distance from Stratford, being situated between the two estates. The old church was burned many years ago; This copy of the inscription on the tablet is from a manuscript in his writing:

“Description of my dear Mrs. Lee’s monument in Nominy Church.”

Sacred to the memory of Mrs. Anne Lee, wife of Col. Richard Lee. This monument was erected by her afflicted husband, in the year 1769.

Reflect, dear reader, on the great uncertainty of human life, since neither esteemed temperament nor the most amiable goodnes could save this excellent Lady from death in the bloom of Life. She left behind here four children, two sons and two daughters. Obiit 12th December, 1768, aet. 30.

Was then so precious a flower
But given us to behold it waste,
The short lived blossom of an hour,
To nice, too fair, too sweet to last.

Richard Henry and Anne (Aylett) Lee (his first wife) had four children.

I—Thomas, 5 see [below].

II—Ludwell, 5 see [below].

III—Mary, 5 born July 28, 1764, married Col. William Augustine Washington, and died early in life, leaving no issue.

IV—Hannah, 5 born in 1766, married Corbin Washington, of Walnut Farm, Westmoreland County, and died about 1801. Had six children.

Richard Henry married again about June 1769, Mrs. Anne (Gaskins) Pinckhard. Richard Henry and Anne (Pinckhard) Lee (his second wife) had two sons and three daughters.

V—Anne 5, born Dec. 1, 1770, married her cousin, Charles Lee, died Sept. 9, 1804.

VI—Henrietta 5, born Dec. 10, 1773, twice married, first, to Richard Lee Turberville, second, the Rev. William Maffit, died 1803–4.

VII—Sara 5, born Nov. 27, 1775, married her cousin, Edmund Jennings Lee and died at Alexandria, May 18, 1837.

VIII—Cassius 5, born at Chantilly, Aug. 18, 1779.

May every Caesar feel
The deep keen searching of a Patriot’s steel.

Dyed at Princeton, N.J., July 8th, 1798, in the 19th year of his age Cassius Lee (son of R. H. Lee, Esqr.) a student of Nassau College, New Jersey. Let not the voice of sorrow be repressed, let it teach those who knew him not, to appreciate the loss the community has sustained in the death of this amiable young man. He was endowed with feelings the most ardent and philanthropic, united to a superior intellect, assiduously cultivated, combined with sentiments of Liberality and Benevolence. But, alas! the hopes formed of such a youth were never to be realized, he was received by the grave, almost at the time he was to leave the place of his education, and bestow his talents on his Country. From the short period of his life, his acquaintance was confined to a few, but while one of that few remains, he will be respected, beloved and lamented.

Some messenger of God From Earth returning
Saw this beauteous flower, transported gathered it
And in his hand bore it to Heaven rejoicing.

(Signed) Cornelia Lee.

IX—Francis Lightfoot 5, see [below].


Francis Lightfoot Lee.

Francis Lightfoot Lee 4, eighth child of Thomas 3 (Richard 2, Richard 1), born at Stratford, Oct. 14, 1734, and died at his home, “Menokin,” Richmond County, Jan., 1797. He was educated at home by a private tutor, the Rev. Mr. Craig, who not only made him a good scholar but imbued him with a genuine fondness for the study of the classics, and for literature in general. Mr. Lee, on arriving at manhood, first settled in Loudoun County, the lands left him by his father being in that county; he and his brother, Philip Ludwell, are mentioned as among the founders of the town of Leesburg; as early as 1765, he appeared in public life, being chosen a Burgess from that county. A few years later, on his marriage, he moved from Loudoun to Richmond County and built himself a home which he called Menokin, from the Indian name Manakin. Being chosen a Burgess from Richmond County, he was acting in that position when the first rumbling of the coming storm were heard, and seems to have promptly taken his stand by the side of his brothers as an earnest patriot. When in August, 1775, Col. Bland resigned his position as a representative in the Continental Congress, George Mason himself refusing the position, recommended Francis Lightfoot Lee, and he was chosen. It is not recorded that he held any position as a speaker; his usefulness, therefore lay in the quieter and less ostentatious forms of public service, and it may be safely assumed that he was useful, for he was successively re-elected in 1776-77-78. In the spring of 1779 he retired from Congress, being averse to public life and hoping to be allowed to live henceforth a quiet country life. But not so; he was soon called again to the front, this time to serve in the Senate chamber of the Virginia Assembly.

Mr. Lee’s chief public services while in Congress were to assist in framing the articles of the old confederation, and later in his vigorous demand that no treaty of peace should be made with Great Britain which did not guarantee to the Americans the freedom of the Northern fisheries and the free navigation of the Mississippi River. Subsequent events have amply proven the wisdom of his foresight in making this demand. Mr. Lee was also with his brother, Richard Henry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

An anecdote is told of Francis Lightfoot Lee which will illustrate his admiration for Washington. Being one day at the county court house, just after the new federal Constitution had been adopted at Philadelphia, and was, of course, the subject of general interest, some one asked his opinion of it. He replied that he did not pretend to be a good judge of such important matters, but that one circumstance satisfied him in its favor, this was that “General Washington was in favor of it and John Warden was against it.” Warden was a Scotch lawyer of the county who had just been making a speech against the ratification of the new Constitution.

A writer on the Signers of the Declaration of Independence
has said of him[:]

In the spring of 1779, Mr. Lee retired from Congress, and returned to the home to which both his temper and inclination led him, with delight. He was not, however, long permitted to enjoy the satisfaction it conferred, for the internal affairs of his native State were in a situation of so much agitation and perplexity that his fellow-citizens insisted on his representing them in the Senate of Virginia. He carried into that body all the integrity, sound judgment, and love of country for which he had ever been conspicuous, and his labors there were alike honorable to himself and useful to the State.

He did not long remain in this situation. His love of ease, and fondness for domestic occupations now gained the entire ascendency over him, and he retired from public life with the firm determination of never again engaging in its busy and wearisome scenes; and to this determination he strictly adhered. In this retirement his character was most conspicuous. He always possesed more of the gay, good humor and pleasing wit of Atticus than the sternness of Cato, or the eloquence of Cicero. To the young, the old, the grave, the gay, he was alike a pleasing and interesting companion. None approached him with diffidence; no one left him but with regret. To the poor around he was a counsellor, physician, and friend; to others, his conversation was at once agreeable and instructive, and his life a fine example for imitation. Like the great founder of our Republic, he was much attached to agriculture, and retained from his estate a small farm for experiment and amusement.

Having no children, Mr. Lee lived an easy and quiet life. Reading, farming, and the company of his friends and relatives filled up the remaining portion of his days.

Mr. Lee married April 21st, 1769, Rebecca, second daughter of Col. John and Rebecca (Plater) Tayloe, of “Mt. Airy,𔄭 Richmond County. Both he and his wife died within a few days of each other and without issue, in the winter of 1797, having taken cold from exposure to the severe weather then prevailing.

His will was dated December 30th, 1795, and probated in Richmond County February 6th, 1797. It was written by himself.


William Lee.

William 4, tenth child of Thomas 3, (Richard 2, Richard 1), born at Stratford, Aug. 31, 1739, died at Greenspring, June 27, 1795. While residing in London he married his cousin Hannah Philippa, daughter of Philip Ludwell, of Greenspring, Va.

The Greenspring mansion, once famous in the early history of Virginia, was built by Sir William Berkeley; probably just previous to his marriage with the beautiful widow, Mrs. Stephens. Greenspring was situated about five miles from Jamestown, and about two miles from James River. During Berkeley’s life Greenspring was practically the seat of the government, and his party were known as the “Greenspring faction.” After his death his widow married Philip Ludwell, a widower, who lived near by, and again the mansion became the centre of political manoeuvering. Mrs. Ludwell always called herself “Lady Berkeley”; she left this estate to her husband and he, in turn, to his son. So it descended until it came into the possession of the two daughters of the third Philip Ludwell; one of whom married William Lee, as stated.

Of the early life and education of William Lee nothing is known; presumably he was educated at home, as was his brother, Francis Lightfoot Lee. He first appeared on record as one of the signers, in February, 1766, of the famous resolutions of the patriots of the Northern Neck. Very shortly after this, he must have gone to settle in London as a Virginian Merchant. His brother Arthur accompanied him to study law at the Temple. The two brothers appear soon to have become interested in the political questions of the hour, which were of the most exciting nature; to the general questions of political character, there were added those of a local nature, and the two combined kept the London merchants greatly excited. For an American, the mercantile business appears to have been simply the selling of tobacco and buying manufactured goods to send out in return for the tobacco; in the royal exchange there was “the Virginia Walk,” where merchants interested in Colonial trading, chiefly conducted their business. William Lee seems to have divided his time between mercantile and political pursuits; for he had not been long in London before he was engaged very actively in its local politics. His numerous letters home, were about equally divided between politics and business, and it is probable that these letters kept Americans well informed as to the trend of opinion in England. From the earliest date, he warned them that they could not expect any redress from the British ministry; that their only alternatives were surrender or war.

In May, 1775, the alderman of Aldgate ward, John Shakespeare, died, and a ward-mote was held at Iron-monger’s Hall to elect a successor.

. . . Mr. Lee was elected, and made a “spirited speech” to the electors, summarized by the London Chronicle as follows:—“He assured them that though he was elected for life, he should always think himself accountable to them for the discharge of the trust reposed in him. That as a public magistrate, he should attend the dispensation of justice with care and assiduity; and as their particular magistrate, he should endeavor to promote and maintain harmony, peace, and good order in the ward. He said that as to his public principles, he held the free constitution of this country sacred and inestimable, which, as the source and security of all our happiness, it was the duty of every honest man to defend from violation; that therefore it should ever be his care, by every exertion and at every hazard, to resist the arbitrary encroachments of the Crown and its Ministers, upon the rights of the citizens, and the liberties of the people.”

As an American, he declared it was his wish that the union between Great Britain and the Colonies might be re-established, and remain forever. but that constitutional liberty must be the sacred bond of that union. He considered the attempts of the present administration against American liberty, as a plain prelude to the invasion of freedom in this country; but he trusted that the virtue of the Americans, aided by the friends of freedom here, would teach the tories of this day, as their ancestors had been happily taught, how vain a thing it is to attempt wresting their liberties from a people determinded to defend them.

Mr Lee was sworn in on the 14th of June, and after the meeting was over “went in the state coach with the Lord Mayor to the Mansion House, where he was elegantly entertained by his Lordship, with a number of other guests. (From the LETTERS OF WILLIAM LEE, edited by W. C. Ford, 1891, 26–7.)

Thus, the beginning of the Revolution found Mr. Lee holding the office of sheriff in London, yet bound by all ties of kindred and by his business interests to the cause of the Colonies. “His connections and opinions were well known in the city and to the government, and he, with his brother Arthur, were soon objects of suspicion to the ministry. It was not surprising, therefore, to find in the English Records Office some letters from William to his brothers in Virginia that the administration had intercepted; and the contents of these missives fully justified the suspicion of the ministry of his disloyalty, and arouse in us a feeling of surprise that the writer was not seized or his usefulness as an agent of America suppressed.”

In 1775, Alderman Lee accompanied the Lord Mayor and other city dignitaries to St. James to present to the King “an humble address and petition,” praying for the suspension of all “operation of force,” etc. April 21st, 1777, Mr. Lee received notice of his appointment as commercial agent for the Continental Congress in France, subsequently, in September 1777, he was appointed to represent the Colonies at the Courts of Berlin and Vienna; to the latter city he went on a fruitless errand; his brother Arthur going in his place to Berlin, was, likewise, unable to gain any substantial results from that Court. Later on, William Lee accepted the position of representative to The Hague where he was able to conclude a treaty with the Dutch, which exerted some moral influence, though not of practical value. It is claimed that Mr. Lee was one of the earliest originators of the move which finally secured the treaty of “armed neutrality,” which was to protect the freedom of commerce against the exactions of England. This treaty was of considerable value to America, as it enabled them to secure supplies from friendly nations in Europe, and if Mr. Lee was instrumental in gaining this treaty he rendered his country a valuable service.

He returned to America in 1784 and resided on his estate at Greenspring. The last years of his life were saddened by poor health and almost total blindness.

The following are extracts from one of his letters written December 10th, 1780, from Brussells:

The British ministry have certainly promised Gen. Clinton to send him in the spring a re-enforcement of ten thousand men, including the recruits for the German Corps now in America. Perhaps some may flatter you that the enemy will not be able to procure such a number to send; but I request you not to deceive yourselves, and be inattentive to your true interests, by relying on such rumors, or the foreign aid that may be promised you from Europe; no people can be in safety that rely on another for protection. France is indeed very powerful, both by sea and land, and will, no doubt, act vigorously against the common enemy; but so many accidents and untoward circumstances have intervened to render abortive all the attempts they have hitherto made to assist us, that, in common sense and prudence, you ought not to trust to aid what must come from Europe. If it does come, so much the better, as you may then finish the war at once; but place your confidence in yourselves alone, and then you cannot be essentially hurt.

The Dutch have at last formally acceded, and so has the King of Prussia, to the treaty of armed neutrality, as proposed last spring by the Empress of Russia, and since entered into by Sweden and Denmark. The object of this great and powerful league is to support the freedom of general commerce and navigation against the unwarrantable pretensions of Great Britain; therefore she must now quietly permit France and Spain to be supplied with naval stores for the support of their navy, or enter into war with this tremendous confederacy. It is, however, impossible for her to resist, which must finally give the superiority to France and Spain. I feel no little pleasure in communicating to you the completion, so far, of this confederacy, as the first traces were laid by myself two years ago; and if Congress had now in Europe ministers properly authorized to negotiate with those powers, it would not be difficult to obtain a general acknowledgement from them of the independence of America, which was my ultimate object in forming the outlines of this scheme.

The public news in England you will see in all the papers that go by this conveyance; so that I have only to recommend to you, in the most pressing manner, a vigorous exertion, unanimity, and confidence in yourselves, which may, in all probability, end the war this year in your favor.

William Lee’s will was dated February 24th, 1789; two codicils were added at later dates; it was probated at Richmond, on June 11th, 1796.

William and Hannah Philippa (Ludwell) Lee had four children, two sons and two daughters.

I—William Ludwell 5, born at London, January 23rd, 1775; died at “Greenspring” January 24th, 1803. He was buried in the old Jamestown Churchyard, near his father. In his will he asked that he be buried there, saying: “I desire that my body be committed to the earth near the grave of my dear respected father in the church yard at Jamestown. The spot where I wish to be interred is designated by two pegs of Sycamore on the south side of the grave of my late father.” He also desired that the lot be inclosed with a substantial brick wall five feet high and an iron gate. He bequeathed all his library, excepting the family Bible, to Bishop Madison; set all his slaves free and provided for them; gave five hundred bushels of corn per annum to William and Mary College; remainder of estate to his two sisters.

2. Portia 5, born in 1777; died February, 19th, 1840; married William Hodgson, formerly of White Haven, England, who died at Alexandria, November 7,1820. They had eight children.

3. Brutus 5, born in November, 1778 ; died in June, 1779.

4. Cornelia 5, was born at Brussels March 3rd, 1780; died in 1815; married October 16, 1806, John Hopkins, Esq., of Richmond.



Arthur Lee.

Arthur Lee 4, eleventh child of Thomas 3, (Richard 2, Richard I), born at Stratford, ?Dec. 21, 1740; died at his home, “Lansdown,” Middlesex County, Dec. 12, 1792.

After a course of private tuition Arthur was sent to Eton, from thence to Edinburgh, where he studied “general science and polite literature,” and, later, medicine. He obtained a diploma, approving him as a general scholar and conferring the degree of M.D. He was always fond of botanical studies, a subject frequently mentioned in his letters; for his thesis, upon graduation, he wrote on “Peruvian Bark,” and obtained the prize given each year for the best thesis on a botanical topic. His essay was so much approved that it was “decreed” to be published under the direction and authority of the university.

Before returning to Virginia Dr. Lee traveled through Holland and parts of Germany. Soon after his return he commenced the practice of medicine at Williamsburg, at that time the chief town of the State. Like many others, who find the study of medicine agreeable enough, but its practice very unsatisfactory, he soon gave it up and turned his attention to law and politics, pursuits that suited his restless, energetic disposition much better than medicine. Early in 1767 he returned to England in company with his brother William, the one to study law, the other to enter a mercantile life. Both soon interested themselves in the political question of the hour. These were in an agitated condition; many in England were dissatisfied with the ministry in both its domestic and colonial policies. It was the endeavor of the Lees to unite this element of opposition in favor of the Colonies by a shrewd combination of colonial with domestic affairs. Mr. Lee was admitted to the bar in April 1775, and began the practice of law in London. In 1776 he left London for Paris and other Continental cities to act as commissioner for the American Colonies. Previous to his departure he had been acting as agent in London for the Colonies of Massachusetts and Virginia. He had also been instrumental, by means of a vast correspondence, in bringing the American cause to the attention of many in England and on the Continent. By his letters to friends in America, he had been keeping I them in touch with the trend of political events in England. Thus, on the one hand, he aroused public sympathy in Europe; on the other, he warned the Americans of their danger. It is not doubtful that he was able by this correspondence, to effect much for the cause of the Colonies. Few writers of that period wielded a more vigorous pen than Arthur Lee.

In the spring of 1775, the Mayor, Alderman, and the Livery of London desired to present a petition to the King as a remonstrance against the measures of his ministry in their colonial policy; at their request, Dr. Lee wrote this remonstrance. A copy of it was also sent to the American Congress, who ordered a suitable reply to be made. Richard Henry Lee, as chairman of the committee, drafted this reply. Neither of the brothers was aware of the part the other had acted in this matter until they met years after its occurrence. Besides the correspondence, already alluded to, Dr. Lee published his “Monitor’s Letters,” addressed to the people of the Colonies, and an “Appeal to the English Nation,” which was greatly admired and for some time attributed to Lord Chatham. Under the signature of “Junius Americanus,” he published a series of letters. They were so bright, so able, that Junius wrote to Wilkes:

My American namesake is plainly a man of abilities. . . . You may assure Dr. Lee that to MY heart and understanding the names of American and Englishman are synonymous; and that as to any future taxation upon America, I look upon i t as near to impossible as the highest improbability can go.

I HOPE, THAT SINCE HE HAD OPPOSED ME, WHERE HE THINKS ME WRONG, HE WILL BE EQUALLY READY TO ASSIST ME, WHERE HE THINKS ME RIGHT.

Before his death, Dr. Lee had commenced a memoir of the Revolution, but did not live to complete it. Much of the part he did write has been lost, a fragment only being preserved. Some extracts from this will give a better idea of him and of his work than anything from the pen of another.

It is to aid in placing the history of the American Revolution in its true light, that the following memoirs are written. The author of them was concerned in its events from its commencement to its conclusion. He was employed generally in the highest stations, and in the most secret and confidential transactions. He always preserved the original papers and letters, on which he founded the journal from which the following memoirs are extracted. He is therefore sure of their authenticity, as well of his determination, NE QUID FALIS DICERE; NE QUID ACRE NARRARE.

The writer of these memoirs was in London when the repeal of the stamp-act was agitated in both houses of parliament. He heard Mr. Pitt and Lord Camden deliver their celebrated speeches on this question, which would have immortalized them as orators and statesmen. Though the obnoxious act was repealed, yet he was persuaded that the spirit which dictated it and was still resting near the throne was not changed. With this impression he turned to Virginia.

It was not long before my impressions were realized, by the passage of an act of the British Parliament for imposing duties on tea, paper, glass, etc., exported to the colonies. This was changing the mode but preserving the principle of the stamp-act. This was soon and ably pointed out in some periodical letters, under the signature of a “Pennsylvania Farmer.” These letters were written in a popular style, were universally read and as universally admired.

I endeavored to aid their operation in alarming and informing my countrymen by a series of letters under the signature of “Monitor.” In the course of a few months it was manifest that the people of this continent were not, disposed to be finessed out of their liberties, and as I knew the British cabinet was determined to enforce rather than abandon the usurpation, I was persuaded that a very serious contest was approaching. To prepare for that was the next object in my mind. The most effectual way to accomplish this, it seemed to me, was to form a correspondence with the leading patriotic men in each colony. I wrote myself to London, where the acquaintance I had would enable me to obtain speedy and accurate information of the real designs of the British ministry, which being communicated to leading men in the several Colonies, might enable them to harmonize in one system of opposition, since on this harmony the success of their opposition would depend. In pursuance of this plan I went to Maryland, to Philadelphia, and New York. The men I had in contemplation were Mr. Daniel Dulany, who had written some able pieces, styled “Considerations on the Stamp-Act”: Mr. John Dickinson, who was the author of the celebrated “Farmer’s Letters,” and the leader of the Livingston party in New York, who is at present the Governor of New Jersey.

I found Mr. Dulany so cold and distant that it seemed in vain to attempt anything with him. Mr. Dickinson received me with friendship, and the contemplated correspondence took place. Mr. Livingston, of New York, was absent from the city in the country, lamenting the death of a child, so that I did not see him. The time I was to sail for England now approached; I could not therefore proceed further eastward. Embarking with one of my brothers, we arrived safely in London.

The proceedings agaist Mr. Wilkes at this time agitated the nation. Mr. Wilkes was the idol of the people and the abhorrence of the king. All the power of prerogative, all the influence of the crown, and every practicable perversion of law, were employed to subdue him. Of courage, calm and intrepid, of a flowing wit, accommodating in his temper, of manner convivial and conversible, an elegant scholar, and well read in constitutional law, he stood the Atlas of popular opposition. Such was the man against whom the whole powers of the crown were mustering their rage ; and whom, to use the words of Junius, “the rays of royal indignation collected upon him served only to illuminate, but could not consume.” Mr. Wilkes was then confined in the King’s Bench, as the printer and publisher of the “Essay on Woman.” The city of London was the stronghold of popular opposition, and the Society of the Bill of Rights the most active in conducting it. This society consisted of real or pretended personal friends of Mr. Wilkes; but some insinuated themselves with very different views.

Having taken this view of the political condition of England, I formed the plan of connecting myself with the opposition; and the grievances of America with those of England. For this purpose I became a member of the Bill of Rights, and purchased the freedom and livery of the city of London. By these means I acquired a voice and influence in all the measures of that society, and in the proceedings and elections of the city. An acquaintance with Mr. Wilkes soon grew into intimacy and confidence. The arbitrary views of the crown originated in the same spirit on both sides of the Atlantic. To sensible men, therefore, the combining of the complaints of the people of America and England appeared just and politic. I procured the introduction of the grievances of America into the famous Middlesex Petition; and to keep them alive in the popular mind I commenced and continued a periodical paper, under the signature of Junius Americanus. My brother established himself in London, was elected an alderman and one of the sheriffs. Our footing was now strong, and the American cause was firmly united with that of England. During these transactions I studied law in Lincoln’s Inn and the Middle Temple, and being called to the bar, practiced in the King’s bench and on the home circuit. This situation increased my opportunities of serving my country.  .. .

Of the disposition and intention of the administration I kept my correspondents in America constantly informed, with this constant opinion, that they must prepare to maintain their liberties at all hazards. My conduct in England had reached America in so favorable a light that the house of Representatives in Massachusetts elected me their agent, in case of the absence or death of Dr. Franklin. At that time I was not personally known to any member of the house.  .. .

My political progress had made me acquainted with many of the leaders of all parts of the opposition, such as Lord Shelburne, Mr. Beckford, Lord Temple, Mr. Dunning, Sergeant Glynn, Col. Barre, Mr. Wilkes, the Alderman Sawbridge, Townsend, and Oliver. It was by constantly comparing the different ideas of those gentlemen with one another, and with the plans and proceedings of the ministers, that I was able to form a pretty accurate judgment, both of the real intentions of the latter and how far America was warranted in relying on the support of the former. These were the two principle objects of my pursuit. The dearest rights and interests of my immediate country were at hazard. It would not have been wise to have trusted these to the mere issues of political intrigues and party opposition for place and preferment. Some, however, of the above leaders appeared to me hearty in the cause of America, as well as of England. Their advocation of liberty was general. Among these the most illustrious was the Earl of Shelburne. Him had I long known, long studied, and found his conduct uniform and unimpeachable. But the private life of this nobleman was no less the subject of my esteem and admiration.

In November of 1775 Congress appointed a committee to secretly correspond with the friends of America in Great Britain “and other parts of the world.” The Committee chose Dr. Lee their secret agent in London; this letter from them was copied from the original MSS.

Philadelphia, December 12th, 1775. Sir: By this conveyance we have the pleasure of transmitting to you sundry printed papers, that such of them as you think proper may be immediately published in England. . . . It would be agreeable to Congress to know the disposition of foreign powers towards us, and we hope this object will engage your attention. We need not hint that great circumspection and impenetrable secrecy are necessary. The Congress rely on your zeal and ability to serve them, and will readily compensate you for whatever trouble and expense a compliance with their desire may occasion. We remit you for the present 200 pounds. Whenever you think the importance of your dispatches may require it, we desire you to send an express boat with them from England, for which service your agreement with the owner there shall be fulfilled by us here.

In the winter of 1776, Dr. Lee went to Paris, in pursuance of this commission; and at various times thereafter he visited other capitals on the same errand—seeking supplies and making friends for the Colonies. He wrote his brother, R. H. Lee, in 1777: I have within this year been at the several courts of Spain, Vienna, and Berlin, and have found this of France is the great wheel that moves them all.” It was in February, 1777, that Dr. Lee was elected as the commissioner from Congress to proceed to Madrid and endeavor to interest the Spanish court in the struggle between England and the Colonies. As soon as the British ministry heard of his appointment they instructed their minister at Madrid to protest against his reception. In consequence, Dr. Lee stopped at Burgos, by an order not to proceed further. He returned so spirited a protest that the Spanish government finally allowed him to proceed to Madrid; once there, he exerted himself with great zeal to influence that court, but with no definite result. The Spanish, being afraid to provoke the English ministry, were plentiful in promises and assurances of the good-will of the king and people. Finally Dr. Lee was granted permission to make contracts with any merchants, etc., for arms and amunition: and the Spanish ambassador at Paris was instructed to keep up a friendly intercourse with the American commissioners at that capital. From this intercourse they finally obtained a large loan.

William Lee, his brother, then stationed at The Hague, was selected by Congress to act as their agent at Berlin. When this appointment was received at Paris, the commissioners there decided that William should remain in Holland, as his services there were too valuable to make it advisable for him to go to Berlin. Consequently, they decided that Dr. Lee should take his commission, and proceed to Berlin in his place. This he did, but he found the difficulties in the way for accomplishing any good for America were very great, as Frederick the Great was under treaty obligations to England, and was not bound in any way to America. The objects of his mission were to establish communication between Prussia and America; to prevent any further raising of German auxiliaries for the English army, and to gain permission to purchase supplies. In these designs Dr. Lee succeeded partially; Frederick refused to receive him officially, and thus recognize the United States, but he authorized his minister to conduct a secret correspondence with him. While residing at Berlin someone stole his private papers from his room at the hotel; Dr. Lee immediately complained to the King. An answer was returned by the King that the police would investigate the affair, which resulted in the prompt return of the papers. At the request of Frederick, the English government recalled their envoy, it being proved that he was concerned in the theft of the papers.

Dr. Lee continued to correspond with Baron Schulenberg, the Prussian minister, after his return to Paris. In one letter Schulenberg wrote:

. . . The events of this war become every day more interesting. I again pray you to communicate to me regularly all the news you may receive. The King seems much interested in it. His Majesty wishes that your efforts may be crowned with success, and as I told you in mine of the 13th of December, he will not hesitate to acknowledge your in dependency as soon as France, which is more immediately interested in the issue of .the contest, shall set the example.

Shortly after the news of the surrender of General Burgoyne at Saratoga, was received, the French court began negotiations for signing a treaty with America; in these negotiations Dr. Lee took a prominent part, and was one of the signers of that treaty on the part of America.

That General Washington esteemed Dr. Lee, and valued his communications, is evident from this note to him:

Newburg, April 15th, 1782. Dear Sir,—I have received your favor of the 2d, and thank you for the several articles of European intelligence contained in it. Permit me to solicit a continuation of such advises as you may think interesting respecting the military and political manoeuvers of foreign powers. Such communications will not only be a private gratification, but may produce public good; as a perfect knowledge of these matters will enable me to decide with more certainty and precision on doubtful operations, which may be had in contemplation, than I could possibly do without. With great esteem and regard, I am, my dear sir, your most obedient, humble servant.

Whatever coolness may have existed between Arthur Lee and the court of Versailles, it did not prevent the King from paying him a very handsome compliment, which he explained in this letter to the President of Congress:

Mr. President,—I return to you, in consequence of the resolution with which I engaged in this cause, to see the liberty of my country established, or to perish in her last struggle.

When I took leave of the court of Versailles as one of your former commissioners, his excellency the Count de Vergennes, presented me with a gold enamelled snuff-box, containing the picture of the King of France, set with diamonds. The minister accompanied it with the assurance that he delivered it to me as a mark of the esteem of his sovereign. In my opinion no period ever produced a prince whose esteem was more valuable. His portrait is engraven on my mind by the virtue and justice which form his character; and gold and jewels can add nothing to its luster.

This testimony of his majesty’s esteem, however flattering to me, I received with the resolution of holding it at your disposal only. I therefore now beg leave, agreeably to what I think my duty, to deposit it with Congress: for I esteem it of dangerous consequence, that any republican should receive presents from a foreign prince or retain them without the knowledge and consent of the republic. Still more dangerous and unbecoming is it to measure the merits of those employed in the public service by them, or to make their characters depend on complimentary letters and praises from the followers of the court where they have resided. It is the most sure of all possible methods, to make them subservient where they ought to be independent, and lead them to substitute intrigue in the place of a due discharge of their duty, or sacrifice the interests of their country to the inclinations of a foreign minister. If they do their duty to their country, their constituents ought best to know it; and the reward they are pleased to bestow upon them, is the sole and sufficient recompense becoming the dignity of a free citizen to possess.

In reply this report was made:

In the Continental Congress : The committee to whom was referred the letter of Arthur Lee, Esq., etc., submitted the following report: Arthur Lee having deposited with the President of Congress a picture of the King of France, set with diamonds, and presented by the minister of that monarch on his taking leave of the court of Versailles as a mark of his majesty’s esteem; and having intimated that as the picture was presented to him in consequence of his having been a commissioner of Congress at that court, it did not become him to retain the same without the express approbation of Congress:

Resolved, That he be informed that Congress approves
of his retaining the picture.

Resolved, That Mr. Lee be further informed, in answer to his letter, that there is no particular charge against him before Congress properly supported and that he be assured his recall was not intended to affix any kind of censure on his character,
or his conduct abroad.

As a further mark of their confidence, Congress requested Dr. Lee to give them the benefit of his knowledge of any views upon foreign affairs. He rendered a strict and satisfactory account of all the funds expended by him.

After his return to Virginia, Dr. Lee was elected a deputy from Prince William to the Virginia Assembly, and later, by the Assembly, to the general Congress. He was one of the signers of the treaty for the cession of the northwestern territory by Virginia to the general government. In 1784 he was appointed by Congress one of the commissioners to make a treaty with the Indians on the northwestern frontier; Lafayette accompanied this expedition. On their return Dr. Lee was appointed to the “board of treasury,” with Samuel Osgood and Walter Livingston, in which position he continued from 1784 to 1789. In 1786 he was chosen one of the commissioners to revise the laws of Virginia. From the board of treasury he retired to private life, and lived upon his estate in Middlesex County. During the years spent in this retreat he carried on a very extensive correspondence with many of the prominent persons to whom his official career had made him known.

A writer has said:

The career of Arthur Lee, though undistinguished by any connection with the great and prominent events, such as catch the public eye, was one of the most important and useful to his country, which the history of that day records. At a time when the new born republic was struggling for existence, and carrying on a war against a powerful country with which the nations of Europe were at peace, and to which they were bound by treaties, he represented his country with a zeal and efficiency which accomplished the greatest and most valuable results. His mind seems to have burned with a restless ardor, and he never rested in his attempts to conciliate the courts of Europe in favor of America, and to induce them to furnish her with material aid.

As a mark of their approbation for his services as their agent abroad, the states of Massachusetts and Virginia both granted him large tracts of land. Harvard College conferred upon him the honorary degree of LL.D.; the Academy of American Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society elected him-an honorary member.

While upon the expedition to the western Indians, already mentioned, Dr. Lee penned these thoughts, which are very interesting:

Being this day indisposed, and obliged to keep my room, I could not avoid meditating upon my future prospects. Should I settle and remain among my friends in Virginia; should I retire to Kentucky: or return to England, and enjoy in retirement there all that a great country in arts and sciences affords. I entered life glowing with sentiments of liberty and virtue. The seeds of the American Revolution were then sowing, in the acts of Parliament for imposing taxes on the Colonies. I embraced the opposition with a double degree of enthusiasm, which the love of liberty and my country inspired. I devoted myself to the cause from its very infancy. From that time my life has been a continued scene of agitation and commotion. No calm, no repose has refreshed me. To live in Virginia without a wife is hardly practicable. But in Virginia boys and girls only marry, and they marry from almost every motive but love. A man at thirty, a woman at twenty, is old in Virginia; and with my sentiments of love and marriage I am not likely to find a wife, there. . . .

Shall I retire to Kentucky, and try my fortune in a younger country and a rising region? The soil and climate are fine. I have lands there, which would become very valuable by residence; and it would be easy, with a little money, to acquire a princely territorial property. Ambition and avarice seem therefore to join in their invitation. But after the scenes through which I have passed such an ambition seems LOW, and the avarice, without an incentive. For whom should I sacrifice present enjoyment to secure a future fortune? He who pursues ambition in that country must expect no repose. He must first agitate its SEPARATION and INDEPENDENCE, then control the various turbulent spirits which are gathered there from different States: he must court those whose lives and manners are little removed from those of savages. He must be in perpetual action, as nothing else can promote his purposes, or even prevent him from repining at the loss of everything that can engage the cultivated mind or gratify the senses. He must submit to the wretched accommodations which an almost savage country can afford; and not only be content without luxuries, but even without the necessaries of life. What is there then that can tempt a sober man, in my situation, to Kentucky?

A single man, intent upon gratifying his taste, might accomplish this purpose with great certainty, and at a moderate expense, in London. Secure of 600 pounds a year, he might live in style perfectly genteel, and see and hear every thing worth seeing and hearing. But then he must live for himself only. He must forget that he has relations in another land, near and dear, whom he has sacrificed forever. All the charities of blood and country must be forgotten. His hours of retirement must be sad and solitary. Should ill-health overtake him, he must not only cut off from the enjoyment he promised himself, but he must expect no tender hand to soothe his pillow, no sympathising soul to mitigate with nameless gentle offices the anguish of disease, and minister to the troubled and desponding mind. And why indeed should he, who lives for himself only, expect that society will feel for him, or furnish him with aid or solace, beyond the influence of his money?

Those, too, with whom I was immediately connected in friendship and politics, when a fellow-subject, would regard me now with cold indifference, if not with aversion. Many would consider me as having contributed to wound and dishonor that, country which is the dearest object to every good Englishman. Could I be restored to the situation that I enjoyed before the Revolution, unless the tumult of political commotion may have unparadised it, I might be happy. That is, as happy as man without domestic cares, domestic anxiety, and domestic love, could be. I was placed in chambers in the Temple, which looked into a delightful little garden on the Thames, of which I had the key; I could go in and out at all hours, and have what company I pleased, without being questioned or overlooked. I was near the Royal Society, of which I was a fellow, where. every week, whatever was new and ingenious in literature was communicated. Not far from me was the hall of the Society of Arts and Agriculture, of which I was an honorary member, and where I had access to all the new discoveries in arts, agriculture, and mechanics.

The play houses and the opera were equally convenient, where I could select the opportunity of seeing the best tragedies and comedies represented, and of hearing the most exquisite music. I was a subscriber to Bach’s and Abel’s concert, where the most masterly performers of the world (Bach, Abel, Fishar, Tassot, Ponto, and Crosdal,) played to a most polite and fashionable audience, in one of the most elegant concert rooms in the world. In the field of politics, from the politician in the cider-cellar to the peer in his palace, I had access and influence. At the Bill of Rights, the city of London, the East India House, and with the opposition in both houses, I was of some consideration. Among my particular friends, to whom I always had access, were Lord Shelburne, Mr. Downing, Col. Barre. Mr. Wilkes, Sergeant Glynn, and several others. I was so well with several of the nobility and gentry that I could spend all my leisure time at their country seats. At Bath I had a very extensive acquaintance; and there is not in the world a more agreeable place to one so circumstanced. As one of the law, I enjoyed the protection and distinction of that body, with the prospect of rising to place and profit, which all of that body, who have moderate abilities, enjoy. So circumstanced, nothing but the peculiar and extraordinary crisis of the times prevented me from being entirely happy, and pursuing the fortune which sat with golden plumes within my reach.

But everything was absorbed in the great contest which I saw fast approaching; and which soon called upon me to quit London, and take an open part in the Revolution, as a representative of the United States at the Court of France.


Henry Lee.

Henry Lee 4, third child of Henry 3, (Richard 2, Richard 1), born at “Lee HallÓ Westmoreland County, in 1729, settled at ÜLeesylvania– in Prince William County. He was a Justice of the Peace in that county and represented it as burgess in 1758-61-62-63-64-69-72. In the Convention of 1774-75-76, and in the State Senate in 1780. He served as County Lieutanant for Prince William County during the Revolutionary War, and was attorney for the county.

Mr. Grigsby, in his discourse on “The Virginia convention of 1776,” said: “Henry Lee, of Prince William, was an old member of the House of Burgesses, of all the Conventions, of the Declaratory Committee, and of the General Assembly. His standing was the first, before and after the Revolution.”

The following are some extracts of letters written by him which will show the interest he took in the great struggle for independence.

Leesylvania, April 1st, 1775. . . . I have just returned from our Convention at Richmond Town on the James River, where 118 Delegates of the People met and unanimously approved of the Proceedings of the General Congress, and thanked their Delegates. The same Delegates were appointed to represent this Colony in the Continental Congress on the 10th of May next at Philadelphia. Our Militia of Independents are ordered by the Convention to be armed and well disciplined, and a great spirit of Liberty actuates every Individual. The Dutch supply us plentifully with arms and ammunition, and several large importations of oznabugs we have already had, so that we shall soon have a plenty of coarse linens from Holland. Your Brother, the Doctor’s Conduct and Letters to the Speaker, etc. are highly appreciated, and I make no doubt of his being appointed our Agent when the Assembly meets.

To Wm. Lee; London.

Under date of May 15th, 1775, he wrote to the same party:

I humbly think your business here is really illy conducted, and you must have an active agent here of influence, who has weight with the Planters, and will exert himself should the tobacco trade be ever again revived; the present prospect being very unabiding, for the people in the country have already taken up arms and have compelled Lord Dunmore to pay 350 pounds sterling for a quantity of powder that he privately in the night removed out of the magazine on board the Foye, Capt. Montague. Ten thousand riflemen are now well trained and are ready to take the field at an hour’s warning. The die is now cast, and a blow having been struck near Boston, in which rencounter the King’s troops were beaten with the loss of 150 men, besides many wounded, and the country people only lost 40 men. The inhabitants have all left Boston, and that place is now surrounded by 20,000 Provincials and 10,000 Connecticut troops are marched to the assistance of New York; also 1,500 rifle men from Fredk. County in Maryland, under Col. Cressip, Jr. (?) to prevent any troops landing. This is the news of the day.

To Charles Lee, Esqr., in Philadelphia:

Leesylvania, September 8th, 1779.

Dear Charles:

I received your agreeable letter by post, but without date; the best way is dating letters at the top, for fear of omitting in the hurry of conclusion. Your brother’s enterprise does him signal honour, and I flatter myself it will not be in the power of his enemies to pluck from him those laurels they cannot acquire, and on his conduct being inquired into, his military fame will be raised. I agree with you that the surprise at Paulus Hook casts a shade on Stony Point; the enclosed letter to him, pray contrive safely. Vessels are daily arriving here and Gen’l Mercer is hourly expected.

I saw your letter to Col. Blackburn, and wish the war may be carried on without the aid of money press, but borrowing, I fear from the spirit of monopoly and avidity for gain, will not be sufficient to supply the call for the sums necessary for the great expenditures of the Army. The other States ought to follow our example by a specific tax of grain to supply the Army with provisions.

To William Lee, in London:

Leesylvania, March 1st, 1775.

Dear Sir:

I have the melancholy news to inform you of your brother, Col. Phil’s death, who died at Stratford of a nervous pleurisy on the 21st of last month and has left Mrs. Lee, his widow very big with child; in him Virginia has lost an able Judge and America a truly great patriot; this vacancy I hope you will use your utmost efforts to fill up in Council with your Brother Thomas, of France, as the former will inherit all your brother’s real estate in Westmoreland, by your father’s will, unless Mrs. Lee’s child should be a son. I could wish the Honor of the family to be fixed at Stratford, as to your brother, Col. Richard Henry, I would by no means have him out of the House of Burgesesses, as there is at present the greatest reason to expect he will succeed Mr. Randolph as Speaker, who is old and infirm. I expect before this my Bill in favor of Duncan Campbell has been presented and duly honoured for 24 pounds sterling and that the James, Capt. Robertson has safely landed my two Hhds. of Toba.: and of course, to a good market, as no Toba. will after this Crop be Exported unless American Grievances are redressed as are pointed out by the General Congress.

We are making large quantities of Salt Peter from the Nitre in the Tobacco Putrified and have made some very strong well grained powder in this county, therefrom, which ketches quick and shoots with great force, so that we shall be able in future to supply ourselves with Salt Peter and gun powder without importing any. Wool cards we are making in great quantities and nails will be soon made as —— mills are erecting thro’ every Province on the Continent. The gentlemen are training themselves thro’ the Continent every week and have raised companys who muster two days every week and emulate to excel1 each other in ye manual manoeuvers and evolutions as practiced by the King of Prussia’s Troops, for we are determined on preserving our libertys if necessary at the expense of our blood, being resolved not to survive slavery. You may rely on it that the Continental Association will be most sacred kept as the county committee will not suffer the least breach to pass unnoticed, and are very watchful. Pray present our most aff’t compl’ts to Mrs. Lee.

Henry Lee to “Charles Lee, Esqr., Student of Law in Philadelphia.” Dated, Wm’b’g. June 12th, 1779.

My Dear Charles:

I received yours of the 1st, June, by post and several others, since being on the Assembly, and have regularly by every post from this wrote you the news, and particular occurences from this quarter and as far as accounts from Lincoln’s Army, circulated from the report or lie of the day, my l’t’r by the last post, I yet hope you will receive. In that I gave you a particular account of an action reported with the circumstances of undoubted belief to be given to the credibility of the fact, which a few days ago was further confirmed by two Frenchmen, who left Charlestown, the 11th. May, who said they were there at the time Provost Army attempted to take the city by storm, and that 650 of the enemy were killed on the spot and their whole Army routed, which I now believe to be a cursed lie, for there is come to this city a deserter from the enemy who left Charlestown on the 16th, and says no action had then happened, but that it was more than probable, without aid to effect their escape by their shipping, which were not arrived when he left the Army. They must fall as Burgoyne did: for that the town was too well fortified and the garrison two strong for their force, which only consisted of 2,000 regulars and about the same number of Tories and Indians. That General Moultree who had entered the town with about 2,500 and General Williamson with about the same number were on their front and flank and General Lincoln within eight miles in their rear with his main Army. That our whole force collected was about 8,000 and the enemy had taken shelter in St. James Island and burnt some houses and it would be difficult for our Army to get at them, that they were short of provisions and if could not soon be relieved from their shipping they would be obliged to surrender or starve. This is nearly the purport of his examination before the Governor, though many give no credit to his account and still believe the Frenchmen’s story. The truth is, I believe, they had some small skirmishing and we got the better. I wrote you fully in my two last of the predatory and cruel behaviour of the late invaders of this State, which if you have not received, let suffice that they far surpassed the brutal lust the goat or in ferocity, the wild boar, in barbarity the savages or the vandals. Tell your brother I will take notice of his request in two ltrs, I have received from him and on my return, write him fully as to the state of his mares, etc., and as soon as I get home, shall endeavor to contrive you a remittance. The expenses of your Philadelphia studies, when you had taken my advice, might in a great measure been saved, had you applied your hours wasted in idle pursuits of dissipation to Cook, Blackstone, etc., having had a general knowledge of the system of law tracts. Possessing the fundamental principles, you might have been now employed in reading the reports and applying the practical cases and digesting the reasoning of the pleaders, and Judges on the applied maxims; my —— this year will be near 2,000 pounds sterling. I shall be always happy to hear from you and of your application and frugality, which is commendable at all times.

Henry Lee’s will was dated August 10th, 1787, and probated in Prince William County, October 1st, 1787.

Henry Lee married Lucy Grymes, to whom tradition has given the name of the “Lowland Beauty,” and claimed that General Washington was once a suitor for her hand.

Henry and Lucy (Grymes) Lee had eight children.

I—Henry 5. See [below].

II—Charles 5. See [below].

III—Richard Bland 5. See [below].

IV—Theodorick 5. See [below].

V—Edmund Jennings 5. See [below].

VI—Lucy 5, born 1774, died unmarried.

VII—Mary 5, born . . ., died . . ., married about 1792, Philip Richard Fendall, of Alexandria. Mr. Fendall had previously married the widow of Philip Ludwell Lee, of Startford. She died about 1790.

VIII—Anne 5, born 1776, died August 1857, married 1793, Wm. Byrd Page, of “Fairfield,” Clarke County.

Return to Stratford Hall and the Lees