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

Stratford Hall and the Lees Connected with Its History

FIFTH GENERATION.

Thomas Ludwell Lee.

THOMAS Ludwell 5, first son of Thomas Ludwell 4, T (Thomas 3, Richard 2, Richard 1), born . . . died in 1807, married Fanny, daughter of Robert W. Carter, of “Sabine Hall,” Richmond County. He resided at “Coton,” near Leesburg in Loudoun County. Thomas Ludwell and Fanny (Carter) Lee had eight children.

I—Thomas Ludwell 6, who died in infancy.

II—Elizabeth 6, married her cousin, St. Ledger Landon Carter, and left no children.

III—Mary Aylett 6, married Tench Ringgold, and had issue, among them a daughter from whom the Hon. Edw. D. White, former U.S. Senator, from La., and present Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is descended.

IV—Winifred Beale 6, married William Brent, Jr. of “Richland,” Stafford County.

V—Fanny Carter 6, died unmarried.

VI—Ann Lucinda 6, married John M. McCarty, of “Cedar Grove,” Fairfax County.

VII—Catherine 6, died unmarried.

VIII—Sydner, probably a daughter and died unmarried.


George Lee.

George 5, third child of Thomas Ludwell Lee 4, (Thomas 3, Richard 2, Richard 1), married Evelyn Byrd, daughter of Robert Beverly, of “Wakefield,” in Culpeper County, died at “Farmwell,” Loudoun County, probably in June, 1805.

George and Evelyn Byrd (Beverly) Lee had:

I—Maria Carter 6, no record.

II—George 6. See [below].


Thomas Lee.

Thomas 5, first son of Richard Henry Lee 4, (Thos. 3, Richard 2, Richard I), born at “Chantilly,” Westmoreland County, October 20, 1758.

Studied in England and was there in 1776.

He lived at “Park Gate,” in Prince William County, where he farmed and practiced law.

Was twice married, first in 1788 to Mildred, daughter of John Augustin and Hannah (Bushrod) Washington. General Washington, in writing to Sir Isaac Heard, of the Herald’s Office, London, of his family said; “John Augustin Washington, son of Augustin and Mary (Ball) Washington, married Hannah Bushrod, and had, Bushrod, Corbin, and Mildred; Corbin married a daughter of the Honorable Richard Henry Lee; Mildred married Thomas Lee, son of the said R. H. Lee.” His second marriage was to Eliza Ashton Brent, by this union he had two children, but only one survived.

I-Eleanor 6, born August 13, 1783; died November 1807, married Girard Alexander, of “Effingham,” Prince William County, and left one son, Thos. Ludwell Alexander, a Colonel in the United States Army.


Ludwell Lee.

Ludwell 5, second son of Richard Henry Lee 4, (Thos. 3, Richard 2, Richard 1), born at “Chantilly,” October 13, 1760, died at his home “Belmont,” Loudoun County, March 23, 1836. He was educated in England and France.

His son, R. H. Lee, has given this anecdote of Ludwell, from whom he heard it:

A son of Lee was at the time of the Declaration of Independence at school in St. Bees, in England. One day, as this youth was standing near one of the professors of the academy, who was conversing with a gentleman of the neighboring county, he heard the question asked, “What boy is this?” to which the professor answered, “He is a son of Richard Henry Lee, of America.” The gentleman, upon hearing this, put his hand upon his head and said, “We shall yet see your father’s head upon ‘Tower Hill’,” to which the boy answered, “You may have it when you can get it!”

Under the date of June 30th, 1777, R. H. Lee wrote to his brother Arthur:

“. . . I have written by this opportunity to our brother William, supposing him to be in France. I told him that the times prevent me from making remittance, and therefore that my sons must be sent to me by the first good opportunity, if he cannot continue to advance for their frugal maintenance in France a small time longer.

I wish Ludwell to go deep into the study of Natural and Civil Law and Eloquence, as well as to obtain the military improvement you put him on, my desire being that he may be able to turn either to the law or the sword here, as his genius or his interest and service of his country might point out. I want Tom to possess himself of the knowledge of business, either in Mr. Schweighauser’s counting house or under his uncle, if he should go into business that may be intrusted to his care. But all or any part of this plan depends, I apprehend, entirely on their uncle William. Should any unhappy accident have befallen him and thereby prevented him from coming to France, I must rely on you to direct them to be sent over to me by the first opportunity.

Southern Literary Messenger Vol28, No. 6–429

After his death this sketch was published in the Leesburg paper, by Mr. R. H. Henderson, of that place:

Departed this life, on the, night of Wednesday the 23d ult., at his residence in this county, Ludwell Lee, Esq., in the 76th year of his age. Mr. Lee, the oldest son of the illustrious orator, statesman, and patriot, Richard Henry Lee, rose in manhood during the memorable struggle in which his father won an undying fame. True to the principles and spirit of that father, the subject of the passing notice flew from the shades of the Academy to the standard of his country; and, as one of the military family of the heroic and generous, Lafayette followed it and crowned it with glorious peace. Mr. Lee engaged in the profession of the law, but, blessed with an ample fortune, he withdrew from it at an early period, yet not until he had exhibited to his friends and his country those powers and attainments which would, under different circumstances, have rendered him one of its brightest ornaments.

He was a distinguished member of the Virginia Legislature, and presided over the deliberations of the Senate with approved ability, dignity, and courtesy in the palmiest days of this once renowned commonwealth. But the strife and tumult of the political arena were as distasteful to him as were those of the bar. His character was essentially gentle, tranquil, and benevolent; and although he died, as he had lived, an unwavering disciple of our own Washington, the suavity of his manners always kept pace with the rectitude and firmness of his purpose. In the walks of private life, amid the social circle, at the sacred family hearth, Ludwell Lee shone with a mild and constant lustre:—here he displayed learning without ostentation; wit without one solitary tincture of unkindness; affection which soothed and gladdened all around him. Not unscathed by sorrow in the evening of his life, he sought solace and support from Him who never forsake those who cleave to Him in sincerity and humility. In a word, to the good man and the gentleman he added that better character which makes worldly merit less than dust in the balance. He breathed out his spirit, at last, without a groan; and has gone to rejoin in the realms of ceasless peace and bliss that Lafayette, under whose chivalrous eye he drew his youthful sword, and who came, after so many chances and changes, to embrace him again in the classic retirement of Belmont. His life happily illustrates the sublime truth, “The Christian is the highest type of man.” He was a Christian in all the truth, in all the purity, in all the meekness, in all the Catholic love and charity of that endearing name.

The places that knew him shall know him no more; he has gone where the approving smiles of his Heavenly Father shall succeed to the tears and sighs of his beloved children.

An old colored man, probably once a servant of Ludwell Lee’s, recently told, in the graphic language of his race, of the visit of Lafayette, to Loudoun; of how the mansions of Belmont and Coton were decorated, of the double line of lanterns which connected the two houses, that guests might readily pass from one to the other, either one of the mansions being too small to contain “all the country” that were bidden to meet the gallant Frenchman.

Ludwell Lee was twice married; first about January 23rd, 1788, to his first cousin, Flora, daughter of Phillip Ludwell, and Elizabeth (Steptoe) Lee, of Stratford, by whom he had three children. He was married, secondly, in 1797, to Elizabeth, daughter of Bowles, and Mary (Fontaine) Armistead, by whom he had six children.

He resided first at “Shooter’s Hill,” near Alexandria, and later at “Belmont,” near Leesburg. His first wife died and was buried at “Shooter’s Hill,” her tomb was to be seen there prior to the late Civil War. He was buried at Belmont.

By his first wife, Flora (Lee) Lee, he had three children.

I—Richard Henry 6. See [below].

II—Cecilia 6, born 1720, married James L. McKenna and left no issue.

III—Eliza Matilda 6, born September 13, 1791, died January 22, 1875, married, 1811, Richard H. Love, of Fairfax County and left issue.

By his second wife, Elizabeth (Armistead) Lee, he had six children.

IV—Mary Ann 6, born April 8,1789, married Gen. Robert B. Campbell, of South Carolina.

V—Ellen McMacken 6, born April 15, 1802, married first Thomas Bedford, of Kentucky and had one child. In 1844 married the Rev. Nathaniel Phippen Knapp and had two children.

VI—Elizabeth Armistead 6, born March 23, 1804, married Wilson Cary Selden, of Exeter, near Leesburg, Va. Died at Berlin, Worcester County, Md., May 23, 1887.

VII—Emily 6, died unmarried, 1875.

VIII—Francis Lightfoot 6, married a Miss Rogers, of South Carolina, left no issue.

IX—Bowles Armistead 6, died unmarried. Probably entered West Point in 1828.


Francis Lightfoot Lee.

Francis Lightfoot 5, ninth child of Richard Henry 4, (Thomas 3, Richard 2, Richard 1), born at Chantilly, June 18, 1782, graduated from Harvard an A.B. in 1802, and in 1806 received his A.M.

He was a lawyer by profession, and resided at “Sully” in Fairfax County, not far distant from Alexandria and Washington. He died April 13th, 1850. He was twice married, his two wives having been sisters, and were daughters of Col. John, and Jane (Diggs) Fitzgerald, of Alexandria. By his first wife, Elizabeth, he had no surviving children; but by his second wife, Jane, whom he married on the 9th of February, 1810, he had five children.

I—Jane Elizabeth 6, born 1811, died 1837, married Henry T. Harrison, of Loudoun County, and left one daughter, who died unmarried in 1870.

II—Samuel Phillips 6. See [below].

III—John Fitzgerald 6. See [below].

IV—Arthur 6, died unmarried at Louisville, Ky., August 7,1841.

V—Francis Anne 6, born at Bladensburg, Md., June 30, 1816, died, December 5, 1889, married first, September 6, 1842, to Goldsborough Robinson and had two children.

Married second, November 6, 1856, to William Frederick Pettit and had one child.


Major-General Henry Lee.
(Light Horse Harry).

Henry 5, eldest child of Henry 4, (Henry 3, Richard 2, Richard 1), was born at Leesylvania, January 29, 1756, died at Cumberland Island, Ga., March 25, 1818.

After receiving the usual rudimentary education at home, Henry was sent to Princeton College, where he graduated in 1773. Dr. William Shippen wrote to R. H. Lee, in 1770: “Your cousin, Henry Lee, is in college and will be one of the first fellows in this country. He is more than strict in his morality, has fine genius and is diligent. Charles is in the grammer school, but Dr. Witherspoon expects much from his genius and application.” (Dr. Witherspoon was then the President of Princeton College). On leaving college, Henry was for some time employed in looking after the private affairs of his father, who was absent from home, engaged in negotiating a treaty with some Indian tribes in behalf of the colony of Virginia. The next year he was intending to embark for England to pursue the study of the law; but the dark shadows of war were already threatening, and changed the prospective lawyer into an actual soldier. His later career seems to have proven him well qualified for the profession of the law, and it is probable that, had he entered the political arena, he would have made for himself a reputation of no mean proportion as an orator and legislator.

Henry Lee was foremost among those who took an active part in organizing and drilling the militia of Virginia; in consequence, he was appointed, in 1776, by Patrick Henry, then governor of the State, a captain of one of the companies of calvary [cavalry] in the Virginia regiment commanded by Colonel Theodorick Bland. Lee soon distinguished himself by his thorough discipline of his troopers, as well as by the care and attention given to their horses and equipment. He wrote his colonel, under the date of April 13th, 1777, “. . . How happy would I be, if it was possible for my men to be furnished with caps and boots, prior to my appearance at head-quarters! You know, my dear colonel, that, justly, an officer’s reputation depends not only on the discipline, but appearance of his men. Could the articles mentioned be allowed my troop, their appearance into Morris (Morristown) would secure me from the imputation of carelessness as their captain, and I have vanity enough to hope would assist in procuring some little credit to the Colonel and regiment. Pardon my solicitations on any head respecting the condition of my troop; my sole object is the credit of the regiment.”

At the time the letter was written, Colonel Bland’s regiment had joined the Army under Washington, and Lee was about to make his first appearance “at head-quarters.” His appearance must have been such as he desired, or his subsequent behavior in active service must have been successful, for he appears to have won the esteem and affection of Washington very early in the war. It is certain that he was frequently employed by his commander on confidential missions and hazardous expeditions. “He was favorably noticed by Washington throughout the war,” wrote Irving. At one time the General wrote to Lee: “. . . You may in future or while on your present command, mark your letters PRIVATE;” this to an officer only twenty-three years old surely indicated confidence and esteem. In fact, his extreme youth seems to have been the sole reason why due rank was not awarded his military merit. He was too youthful to be elevated over the heads of men so much his senior in years, though probably his inferior in military talent.

This letter attest the kind feeling of appreciation in which Lee was held by his great chief:

My Dear Lee,—Although I have given you my thanks in the general orders of this day, for the late instance of your gallant behaviour, I cannot resist the inclination I feel to repeat them again in this manner. I needed no fresh proofs of your merit, to bear you in my remembrance. I waited only for the proper time and season to show it; those, I hope are not far off. I shall also think of and will reward the merit of Lindsay, when an opportunity presents, as far as I can consistently; and shall not forget the corporal, whom you have recommended to my notice. Offer my sincere thanks to the whole of your gallant party, and assure them that no one felt pleasure more sensibly, or rejoiced more sincerely for your and their escape, than your affectionate, etc.

The skirmish referred to by Washington was an attempt on the part of the British to capture Lee. They attached sufficient importance to making him their prisoner to send a troop of 200 horse to secretly surround his headquarters, when they had ascertained he was near their lines and accompanied by only ten men. The Americans manned the windows of the house and succeeded in beating off the assailants. Lee reported, “The contest was very warm; the British dragoons trusting to their vast superiority in number, attempted to force their way into the house. In this they were baffled by the bravery of my men. After having left two killed and four wounded, they desisted and sheered off.”

The skill and daring of Lee soon won such favor in the eyes of his chief, that Washington urged Congress to give him command of an independent corps, for scouting and foraging. In a letter to the President of Congress he wrote:

Captain Lee, of the Light Dragoons, and the officers under his command, having uniformly distinguished themselves by a conduct of exemplary zeal, prudence, and bravery, I took occasion, on a late signal instance of it, to express the high sense I entertained of their merit, and to assure him that it should not fail of being properly noticed. I was induced to give the assurance from a conviction that it is the wish of Congress to give every encouragement to merit, and that they would cheerfully embrace so favorable an opportunity of manifesting this disposition. I had it in contemplation at the time, in case no other method more eligible could be adopted, to make an offer of a place in my family. I have consulted the committee of Congress on the subject, and we are mutually of the opinion, that giving Captain Lee command of two troops of horse on the proposed establishment, with the rank of major, to act as independent corps, would be a mode of rewarding him very advantageous to the service. Captain Lee’s genius particularly adapts him to a command of this nature and it will be the most agreeable to him of any station in which he could be placed.

Shortly after this, Lee was given the command of three companies each of cavalry and of infantry, to operate as an independent corps. By the attention he gave to the discipline of his men, and the care of their horses, he kept his troops so well mounted and so effective that they were able to move with great rapidity and daring. In consequence of their dash and bravery in scouting and foraging, they acquired quite a reputation, and he, the soubriquet of “Light-Horse Harry,” a name which has ever clung to him. On the 19th of July, 1779, at the head of three hundred men, Lee surprised and captured Paulus Hook, New Jersey, securing some 160 prisoners, and retreated with the loss of only two killed and three wounded. For “his prudence, address, and bravery,” on this and other occasions, Congress voted the following resolutions. By the Act of 7th of April, 1778, it was

Resolved, whereas, Captain Henry Lee, of the Light Dragoons, by the whole tenor of his conduct during the last campaign, has proved himself a brave and prudent officer rendered essential service to his country, and acquired to himself and the corps he commanded, distinguished honor, and it being the determination of Congress to reward merit.

Resolved, that Captain Henry Lee be promoted to the rank of Major-Commandant; that he be empowered to augment his present corps by enlistment of two corps of horse, to act as a separate corps.

By the act of September 24th, 1779, it was

Resolved, that the thanks of Congress be given to Major Lee for the remarkable prudence, address and bravery displayed in the attack on the enemy’s fort and works at Paulus Hook, and that they approve the humanity shown in circumstances prompting to severity, as honorable to the arms of the United States, and correspondent to the noble principles on which they were assumed, and that a gold medal, emblematic of this affair, be struck under the direction of the Board of Treasury, and presented to Major Lee.


[Medal awarded to Lee by the Continental Congress.]

After serving for three years in the campaigns of the northern army, Lee was ordered south to join General Greene with whom he served until his final retirement from the army after the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Greene commended him by declaring that “no man in the progress of the campaign had equal merit.” When it is remembered that Lee served there with such soldiers as Morgan, Marion, Pickens, Sumpter, and other gallant officers, the full extent of this praise will be appreciated. About October, 1780, Congress proposed to re-organize the army somewhat, and among the changes considered was the placing of Lee’s corps in one of the regular regiments. Washington opposed this change, and wrote October 11th, 1780, to the President of Congress: “. . . Major Lee has rendered such distinguished services, possesses so many talents for commanding a corps of this nature, and deserves so much credit for the perfection in which he keeps his corps, as well as for the handsome exploits which he has performed, that it would be a loss to the service, and a discouragement to merit, to reduce him, and I do not see how he can be introduced into one of the regiments in a manner satisfactory to himself, and which will enable him to be equally useful, without giving too much disgust to the whole line of cavalry.” This protest had due effect, and Lee retained the command of his partisan corps, being also advanced to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In writing to John Matthews, a member of Congress from South Carolina, Washington was even more complimentary to Lee. Under date of October 23rd, he wrote: “. . . Lee’s corps will go to the southward. I believe it will be found very useful. The corps itself is an excellent one, and the officer at the head of it HAS GREAT RESOURCES OF GENIUS.”

Colonel Charles Cornwallis Chesney, of the English Army, in an article on General Robert E. Lee, speaks thus of his father:

From the very first he displayed military talent of a high order, and became before long the most noted leader of his army for dashing enterprise in separate command. A special gold medal was awarded him by Congress for his capture of the fort at Paulus Hook, and in 1781 he was sent to join the forces under General Greene, in the South, there matched against Cornwallis. That Greene failed, on the whole, in his encounter is well known. He was in fact in a position of inferiority, until Cornwallis left the South for Petersburg and the Richmond peninsular. . . . Greene however, though defeated, never ceased to hold his own stoutly against Cornwallis for the time, and afterwards recovered the Carolinas fully for Congress. His successes were due in great part to the talents and energy of his young cavalry commander. General Henry Lee had a worthy opponent in Colonel Tarleton, a cavalry officer of no mean merit in light warfare. But the republican cavalier established his superiority very fully in the series of skirmishes that ensued. And although, in his own Memoir of the War, he had the modesty to attribute his successes over Tarleton to his superiority in horse flesh, readers of his interesting work may discern for themselves that his own skill and judgment were the prime causes of the advantage, and will be disposed to agree to the full with General Greene, who wrote in his personal thanks, “No man in the progress of the campaign had equal merit with yourself,” an expression of strong meaning coming from a plain, blunt soldier of honest character. And this praise was fully confirmed by Washington’s own words of love and thanks, in a letter of later date, written long enough after to show how strong in that great man’s mind was the memory of the services of “Light-Horse Harry,” as his contemporaries familiarly called General Henry Lee.

Shortly after the surrender of Cornwallis, Lee resigned from the army, upon which occasion General Greene wrote him this letter:

Headquarters, January 27th, 1782.

Dear Sir:—I have beheld with extreme anxiety for some time past d growing discontent in your mind, and have not been without my apprehensions that your complaints originated more in distress than in ruin of your constitution. Whatever may be the source of your wounds, I wish it was in my power to heal them. . . . From our earliest acquaintance I had a partiality for you, which progressively grew in friendship. I was under no obligation to you until I came into this country; and yet I believe you will do me the justice to say I never wanted inclination to serve you. Here I have been under the greatest obligations,—obligations I can never cancel. . . . I am far from agreeing with you in the opinion that the public will never do you justice. I believe few officers either in Europe or America, are held in so high a point of estimation as you are. Substantial service is what constitutes lasting reputation; and your reports of this campaign are the best panegyric that can be given of your action. . . . It is true, there are few of your countrymen, who from ignorance and malice are disposed to do injustice to your conduct, but it is out of their power to injure you. Indeed, you are ignorant of your own weight and influence, otherwise you would despise their spleen and malice. . . . Everybody knows I have the highest opinion of you as an officer and you know I love you as a friend; whatever may be your determination, to retire or to continue in service, my affection will accompany you.

In a parting letter Greene adds (12th, February, 1782):

You are going home and you will get married, but you cannot cease to be a soldier; should the war rage here, I shall call for you in a few months, unless I should find your inclination opposed to my wishes.

General Charles Lee once said of him, that “Major Lee seemed to have come out of his mother’s womb a soldier.” Marshall, the early historian of Washington, has written: “The continued labors and exertions of all were highly meritorious, but the successful activity of one corps will attract particular attention. The legion, from its structure, was peculiarly adapted to the partisan warfare of the Southern States, and, by being detached against weaker posts of the enemy, and opportunities for displaying with advantage all the energies it possessed. In that extensive sweep which it made from the Santee to Augusta, which employed from the 15th of April to the 8th of June, this corps, acting in conjunction first with Marion, afterward with Pickens, and sometimes alone, had constituted the principal force which carried five British posts and made upward of 1100 prisoners.”

Mr. Curtis has declared that,

No officer in the American Army could have been better fitted than Lee for the command of a partisan corps; for in the surprise of posts, in gaining intelligence, of distracting and discomforting your enemy, without bringing him to a general action, and all the strategy which belongs to the partisan warfare, few officers in any service have been more distinguished than the subject of our memoir. The legion of Lee, under the untiring labors of its active, talented commander, became one of the most efficient corps in the American army. The horsemen were principally recruited in the Southern and Middle States-countries proverbial for furnishing skillful riders; while the horses, under the inspection of the Virginian commander, were superior in bone and figure, and could many of them have boasted a lineal descent from the good and gallant Godolphin Arabian.

Among Lee’s officers were the good and gallant names of Eggleston, Rudolph, Armstrong, O’Neil, and the surviving honored veterans, Allen M’Lane, of Delaware, and Harrison, of Virginia. The arrival of the legion in the South was hailed as most auspicious to the success of our arms in that quarter; indeed, so fine a corps of horse and foot, so well disciplined, and in such gallant array, was rarely to be seen in those days of desolation. The partisan legion did good service in the campaigns of the Carolinas, and the commander won his way to the esteem and confidence of Greene, the WELL-BELOVED OF WASHINGTON, as he had previously done to the esteem and confidence of the great chief himself; and, as a justice of the great military sagacity of Lee, let it be remembered, that he was mainly instrumental in advising Greene to that RETURN TO THE CAROLINAS, which eventuated in the decisive and glorious combat of Eutaw, and the virtual liberation of the South. With the close of the campaign of 1781 ended the military services of Lieutenant-Colonel Lee. He retired on-furlough to Virginia, and was happily present at the surrender of his old adversary, the formidable Cornwallis, 19th of October. Lee married shortly afterward, and settled at Stratford, in the county of Westmoreland, but was permitted, by his grateful and admiring countrymen, for a short time only to enjoy the OTIUM CUM DIGNITATE, being successively chosen to the State legislature, the convention for ratifying the constitution, the gubernatorial chair, and the Congress of the United States.

During all his services in these legislative bodies, Henry Lee was an ardent federalists, ably supporting Madison, and others in their efforts for securing the ratification of the Constitution by the Virginia Convention. In taking this position he was an antagonist of his cousin, Richard Henry Lee, yet the latter considered his services so valuable to the State that he was anxious for him to be in the Virginia Assembly. Under date of July 14th, 1787, R. H. Lee wrote his brother, Arthur: “I do really consider it a thing of consequence to the public interest that Col. H. Lee, of Stratford should be in our next Assembly, and therefore wish you would exert yourself with the old squire, (Richard Lee) to get his resignation, or disqualification rather, so that his nephew may get early into the House of Delegates. I know it is like persuading a man to sign his own death warrant, but upon my word the state of public affairs renders the sacrifice of place and vanity, necessary.”

Henry Lee was governor of Virginia for three years; while in this office, Washington appointed him to command the troops ordered out to suppress the “Whiskey Rebellion,” which occurred in western Pennsylvania, in 1794: he succeeded in quelling the rebellion without bloodshed. On July 19th, 1798, he was appointed a major-general in the army, and was honorably discharged June, 15th, 1800. Being a member of Congress in 1799, when the news of the death of Washington was received by Congress, he drew up a series of resolutions, formally announcing that event, which were presented in his absence, by his colleague, John Marshall; in these resolution occur those ever memorable words: “FIRST IN WAR, FIRST IN PEACE, AND FIRST IN THE HEARTS OF HIS FELLOW-CITIZENS.” Thereupon, Congress resolved that “the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, be desired to request one of the members of Congress to perform and deliver an oration. Henry Lee was selected to pay this tribute on behalf of Congress to the great Washington, and the oration was delivered before Congress on the 26th of December, 1799, at the German Lutheran Church, in 4th street, above Arch, Philadelphia, the largest in the city.”

Of this oration Mr. Custis has written, as one who
had heard it:

Mr. Custis adds:

In one particular, Lee may be said to have excelled his illustrious contempories, Marshall, Madison, Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris and Ames. It was a surprising quickness of talent, a genius sudden, dazzling, and always at command, with an eloquence which seemed to flow unbidden. Seated at a convivial board when the death of Patrick Henry was announced, Lee called for a scrap of paper, and in a few moments produced a striking and beautiful elogium upon the Demosthenes of modern liberty. His powers of conversation were also fascinating in the extreme, possessing those rare and admiral qualities which seize and hold captive his hearers, delighting while they instruct. That Lee was a man of letters, a scholar who had ripened under a truly classical sun, we have only to turn to his work on the southern war, where he was, indeed, the Magna pars fui of all which he relates—a work which well deserves to be ranked with the commentaries of the famed master of the Roman world, who, like our Lee, was equally renowned with the pen as the sword. But there is a line, a single line, in the works of Lee which would hand him over to immortality, though he had never written another. “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his fellow-countrymen,” will last while language lasts. What a sublime eulogium is pronounced in that noble line. So few words, and yet how illustrative are they of the vast and matchless character of Washington! They are words which will descend with the memory of the hero they are meant to honor, to the veneration of remotest posterity, and be graven on colossal statues of the Pater Patriae in some future age.

The attachment of Lee to Washington was like that of Hamilton, pure and enthusiastic—like that of the chivalric Laurens, devotional. It was in the praise of his “hero, his friend and his country’s preserver” that the splendid talents of Lee were often elicited, with a force and grandeur of eloquence wholly his own. The fame and memory of his chief was the fondly-cherished passion to which he clung amid the wreck of his fortunes—the hope which gave warmth to his heart when all else around him seemed cold and desolate. But shall the biographer’s task be complete, when the faults of his subject are not to be taken into account? Of faults, perhaps the subject of our memoir had many; yet how admirable is the maxim handed down to us from the ancients, “De mortuis nil, nisi bonum.” Let the faults of Lee be buried in the distant grave—let the turf of oblivion close over the failings of him whose early devotion to liberty, in liberty’s battles—whose eloquence in her senates and historical memoirs of her times of trial, shed a lustre on his country in his young days of the Republic; and when Americans of some future date shall search among the records of their early history for the lives of illustrious men who flourished in the age of Washington, high on a brilliant scroll will they find inscribed, Henry Lee, a son of Virginia-patriot, soldier, and historian of the Revolution, and orator and statesman of the Republic.

In 1801, Henry Lee retired permanently from public life, hoping to spend the remainder of his days in the peaceful quiet of a Virginia farm life.

With his congressional career, ended the better days of this highly gifted man. An unhappy rage for speculation caused him to embark upon that treacherous stream, which gently, and almost imperceptibly at first, but with sure and fearful rapidity at last, hurries its victims to the vortex of destruction. It was, indeed, lamentable to behold the venerable Morris and Lee, patriots, who, in the senates of liberty and on her battlefields, had done the “State such service,” instead of enjoying a calm and happy evening of life, to be languishing in prison and in exile. Lee, after long struggling with adversity, sought in a foreign land a refuge from his many ills, where, becoming broken in health, he returned home to die. He reached the mansion of Greene, and fortune, relenting her frowns, lit up his few remaining days with a smile. There, amid attentions the most consoling and kindly, surrounded by recollections of his old and loved commander, the most fond and endearing, the worn and, wearied spirit of the patriot, statesman, and soldier of liberty, found rest in the grave.


Gen. Henry Lee’s Grave.

In 1809 Henry Lee wrote his interesting Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States. Shortly afterward (June, 1812), he was very seriously injured by a mob at Baltimore, while attempting to defend the house of a friend. Later he made a voyage to the West Indies, seeking restoration for his shattered health. On his way home he landed at Cumberland Island, on the coast of Georgia, the home of his old commander and friend, General Greene, where he died on the 25th, of March, 1818, and was buried. A war vessel, happening to be anchored near by, her captain and his crew assisted at his funeral, and paid the last military honors to the dead soldier. As has been said: “Fortune seems to have conducted him at the close of his life almost to the tomb of Greene; and his bones may now repose by the side of those of his beloved chief; friends in war, united in death, and partners in a never-dying fame.”

As stated by Mr. Custis, Henry Lee was always an ardent admirer of Washington, and never lost an opportunity of expressing his veneration for that great man. In his last illness “a surgical operation was proposed, as offering some hope of prolonging his life; but he replied that the eminent surgeon to whose skill and care, during his sojourn in the West Indies, he was so much indebted, had disapproved a resort to the proposed operation. The surgeon in attendance still urging it, the patient put an end to the discussion by saying: ‘My dear sir, were the great Washington alive and here, and joining you in advocating it, I would still resist’.”

Mr. Irving has said that Henry Lee was always a favorite with Washington, and was very often favorably noticed by him. And Lee, on his part, seems to have looked up to Washington rather as a friend or older brother, than as his military chief. In his letters he appears to have asked for advice upon any private business or public topic that interested him, and to have expressed his feelings and opinions on current affairs with much freedom. Mr. Irving says further,

Colonel Henry Lee, who used to be a favored guest at Mount Vernon, does not seem to have been much under the influence of that “reverential awe,” which Washington is said to have inspired: if we may judge from the following anecdote. Washington one day at a table mentioned his being in want of carriage horses, and asked Lee if he knew where he could get a pair.

“I have a fine, pair, general,” replied Lee, “but you cannot get them.”

“Why not?”

“Because you will never pay more than half price for anything; and I must have full price for my horses.”

The bantering reply set Mrs. Washington laughing, and her parrot, perched beside her, joined in the laugh. The general took this familiar assault upon his dignity in great good part. “Ah, Lee, you are a funny fellow,” said he; “see, that bird is laughing at you.”

The following letter of sympathy from General Washington to Henry Lee, was evidently written in response to the news of the death of his (first) wife and son; indeed, on the original were endorsed the words by Lee himself, “the deaths of my wife and son.”

New York, August 27th, 1790.

My dear Sir:—I have been duly favored with the receipt of your obliging letter dated the 12th of June last. I am also indebted to you for a long letter written to me in the course of last year and should have had the pleasure sooner to express my acknowledgements for the tender interest you take on account of my health and administration, but such is the multiplicity of my avocations, and so great the pressure of public business as to leave me no leisure for the agreeable duty of answering private letters from my friends—and although I shall at all time be happy to hear from them, yet I shall be but an unprofitable correspondent, as it will not be in my power to make those returns, which under other circumstances I should have real pleasure in doing.

It is unnecessary to assure you of the interest I take in whatever nearly concerns you. I, therefore, very sincerely condole with you on your late, and great loss; but as the ways of Providence are as inscrutable as just, it becomes the children of it to submit with resignation and fortitude to its decrees as far as the feelings of humanity will allow, and your good sense will, I am persuaded, enable you to do this. Mrs. Washington joins me in these sentiments and with great esteem and regard, I am, my dear sir, etc.

Henry Lee was twice married; first in the spring of 1782, to his cousin Matilda, daughter of Philip Ludwell and Elizabeth (Steptoe) Lee, of Stratford: she died about May, 1790, having had four children:

I—Nathaniel Green 6, born at Stratford, about 1784, and died in infancy.

II—Philip Ludwell6, born at Stratford about 1785, died in 1792, aged seven years.

III—Lucy Grymes 6, born at Stratford 1786, married Bernard Moore Carter in 1803, died in 1860.

IV—Henry 6. See [below].

After his first wife’s death, Henry Lee had seriously considered the idea of going to France, where, as he wrote Washington when consulting him upon the step, a major-general’s commission awaited him. Washington would give no direct advice, but discouraged the idea, saying he himself would not think of taking such a step. “Because it would appear a boundless ocean I was about to embark on, from whence no land is seen. . . . Those in whose hands the government (of France) is intrusted are ready to tear each other to pieces, and will more than probably prove the worst foes the country has.” This project was given up, whether through the influence of Washington or from the objection of Mr. Carter, or both is not known. Mr. Carter would not consent to a union with his daughter until assured that the French project was abandoned. He wrote, under the 20th, of May 1793: “The only objection we ever had to your connection with our beloved daughter is now done away. You have declared upon your honor that you have relinquished all thoughts of going to France, and we rest satisfied with that assurance. As we certainly know that you have obtained her consent, you shall have that of her parents most cordially, to be joined together in the holy bonds of matrimony, whenever she pleases; and as it is determined on, by the approbation and sincere affection of all friends, as well as of all the parties immediately concerned, we think the sooner it takes place the better.”

On hearing of this marriage, Washington writes to Lee: “. . . As we are told that you have exchanged the rugged and dangerous fields of Mars for the soft and pleasurable bed of Venus, I do in this, as I shall in everything you may pursue like unto it, good and laudable, wish you all imaginable success and happiness.”

Henry Lee married, secondly, on June 18th, 1793, Anne Hill, daughter of Charles Carter, of “Shirley,” and Anne Butler Moore, his second wife; Mrs. Lee was born in 1773, and died in 1829; they had six children, the record of their ages given here is from Mrs. Lee’s family Bible.

V—Algernon Sidney 6, born at Stratford, April 2, 1795, died August 9, 1796.

VI—Charle Carter 6. See [below].

VII—Anne Kinloch 6, born at Stratford, June 19, 1800. Married 1825, Judge Wm. Louis Marshall, died at Baltimore, February 20, 1864.

VIII—Sydney Smith 6. See [below].

IX—Robt. Edward 6. See [below].

X—Catherin Mildred 6, born at Alexandria, February 27, 1811, married 1831, Edward Vernon Childe, died at Paris, France, 1856.


Charles Lee.

Charles 5, second son of Henry 4, (Henry 3, Richard 2, Richard 1), born 1758, died June 24, 1815, at his home near Warrenton, Faquier County. He was educated at Princeton College, where he graduated a B.A., in 1775 and M.A., in 1778. In 1777, he was Naval officer of –South Potomac,— which office he held until it was abolished in 1789.

President Washington wrote Richard Henry Lee, August 2, 1789:—“Mr. Charles Lee will certainly be brought forward as collector of the Port of Alexandria.” He studied law in Philadelphia, under Jared Ingersol. On December 10, 1795, The President appointed him Atty. General, which office he held under John Adams and until the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson, in 1801.

Washington was an unusually good judge of men, and President Adams confirmed his choice, not only by continuing Mr. Lee as Atty. General through his administration, but on February 18th, 1801, sent his name to the U.S. Senate as one of the 16 new Circuit Judges, required by the reduction of the U.S. Supreme Court to 5 judges in 1801. These new judges were confirmed, March 3rd, 1801, just before midnight, hence they were called the Midnight Judges. The Act of Congress creating them was repealed, April 8th, 1802, without imputing any fault on the part of the judges.

It is said that President Adams offered Mr. Lee the appointment of Chief Justice to succeed Oliver Ellsworth, but it was declined. Judge Lee retired to his home, and practiced law in the Courts of Virginia, and at Washington, until his death, (Hayden, Va., Genealogies, 541).

Charles Lee was one of the lawyers for the defense of Aaron Burr in his famous trial for treason. He was twice married.


Anne Lee.

By his first wife, Anne, daughter of Richard
Henry Lee, he had:

I—Anne Lucinda 6, born at Chantilly, 1790, and married General Walter Jones.

II—A son 6, born 1791,and lived about two months.

III—Richard Henry 6, born 1793, at Alexandria, died a month later.

IV—Chas. Henry 6, born 1794, at Alexandria.

V—Wm. Arthur 6, born 1796, at Alexandria.

VI—Alfred 6, born 1799, at Alexandria, died unmarried in Fairfax County in 1865.

By his second wife Mrs. Margaret C. (Scott) Peyton, he had:

VII—Robert Eden 6, was born at “Gordansdale,” Fauquier Co., September 7, 1810, and was killed at Warrenton, July 24, 1843. He married Margaret Gorden Scott and left no issue.

VIII—Elizabeth Gorden 6, born at Alexandria, May 17, 1813, married November 25, 1835, the Rev. Abraham David Pollock, D.D. They had six children, the oldest Thomas G. Pollock, was a captain in the C.S.A. and killed in Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, July 3d, 1863.

IX—Alexander 6, born near Warrenton, April 18, 1815, and died in infancy.


Richard Bland Lee.

Richard Bland 5, third son of Henry 4, (Henry 3, Richard 2, Richard 1), born at Leesylvania, January 20, 1861, died March 12, 1827. He was in the Virginia Assembly as early as 1784, a member of Congress 1789 to 1795, and 1825 to 1827. In a letter to the Mayor of Washington, dated October 8, 1824, he said:

I was presented to Gen. Lafayette today and delivered the message of the committee, together with a copy of your proposed address. He received with great politeness and cordiality my communication, and informed me that he had sent by Mr. Secretary Adams, his reply to the invitation of the city which had been delivered to him at Boston—in which I understood him to say that he had noted that he would be on Monday evening at the house of a friend near Bladensburg, whom I understood to be Mr. Calvert. On Monday evening and Tuesday morning he would be ready to conform to my arrangements, which might be communicated to him at that time. I collected from him that Virginia would send a steamboat to conduct him from Alexandria or Mount Vernon to Yorktown, and his probable stay in Washington would be three or four days.

I have in vain endeavored to find Mr. French. I have visited every principal tavern and can hear nothing of him. I presume he is doing his duty.

The Philadelphians have acknowledged that the military exhibition yesterday and the illumination last night surpassed theirs. I did not see the first, but the last exceeded anything which I had ever seen. The devices and transparencies were most appropriate and elegant. The illumination seemed to throw in a shade the brightness of the moon. Ingenuity seems to have been exhausted in emblems and gratitude in respect to Washington, Franklin, Lafayette, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Jay, and Monroe—nor were De Kalb, Steuben, and Rochambeau forgotten. I shall return to-morrow. This city is filled with deputations from Alexandria and various parts of Virginia and Maryland.

He married Elizabeth Collins and had:

I—Mary Ann 6, born May 11th, 1795, died June 21st, 1796.

II—Richard Bland 6. See [below].

III—Ann Matilda 6, born July 13, 1799, died December 20, 1880, married Dr. Bailey Washington, Surgeon, U.S.N.

IV—Mary Collins 6, born May 6th, 1801 died February 22, 1805.

V—Cornelia 6, born March 20, 1804, died December 26, 1876, married Dr. Jas. W. F. Macrae.

VI—Zaccheus Collins 6. See [below].


Theodoric Lee.

Theodoric 5, fifth son of Henry 4, (Henry 3, Richard 2, Richard 1), born September 3,1766, died April 10, 1859, at “Eckington,” near Washington, D.C. He married Catherine Hite, of Winchester, and had:

I—Caroline Hite 6. married Samuel P. Walker, of Baltimore, Md., and had 13 children. She lived to be 86 years old.

II—John Hite 6, born July 30, 1797, died July 1832, at Norfolk, Va., where he was stationed on naval duty. Married, 1825, Elizabeth Prosser, of “White Marsh,” Glocester County, Va. They had three children, Theodoric 7, Matilda 7, and John Hite Lee 7.

III—Sarah Juliana Maria 6, married 1813, Joseph Gales, Jr., of Washington, left no issue.

IV—Catherine Hite 6, married Dr. George May, of Washington, D.C., and left two daughters.


Edmund Jennings Lee.

Edmund Jennings 5, fifth son of Henry 4, (Henry 3, Richard 2, Richard 1), born at “Leesylvania,” May 20, 1772, died at his home in Alexandria, May 30, 1843. About 1796, he married Sarah, daughter of Richard Henry Lee, of Chantilly, and had:

I—Edmunds Jennings 6. See [below].

II—Anne Harriette 6, born March 6, 1799, died September 10,1863, married November 2, 1820, John Lloyd, Esq., of Alexandria, and had six children.

III—Sarah 6, born about 1801, died unmarried, April 14, 1879.

IV—William Fitzhugh 6, born May 7, 1804, at Alexandria, and died there May 19, 1837, married October 27; 1827, Mary Catherine, daughter of William Chilton, Esq., of Loudoun County. He left two children, William Fitzhugh, who was killed at the first battle of Manassas, and Mary Morrison, who married Rev. Robert Allen Castleman, of Clark County.

V—Hannah 6, born about 1806 and died May 9, 1872, at Lewis, Del. Married May 5, 1840, Rev. Kinsey Johns Stewart, D.D., and had six children.

VI—Cassius Francis 6. See [below].

VII—Susan Meade 6, born March 26, 1814, and died February 15, 1815.

VIII—Charles Henry 6, born at Alexandria, Oct. 20,1818. He married November 7, 1844, Elizabeth A. Dunbar, and had one daughter.

IX—Richard Henry 6, born at Alexandria. Just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, he had been chosen commonwealth’s attorney for that county, and was holding this position when he entered the army. He was made Lieutenant in “Botts’ Grays,” a company of the 2d Virginia Regiment, Stonewall Brigade. During the Valley campaign under General Jackson, while bearing the colors of his regiment, the color-bearer having been shot, he received a disabling wound. Upon the organization of the military court he was appointed by President Davis President of the Military Court, of the 2d Army Corps, which position he held until the close of the war. Before this, he had been twice taken prisoner, and was once a prisoner at Johnson’s Island; the second time he was fortunate enough to effect his escape.

Since the war Mr. Lee has practiced his profession in Clarke and Loudoun Counties, with his residence near Millwood, in the former county. He was elected by the State Legislature as Judge for Clarke County.

Mr. Lee was selected as the proper representative of his grandfather, Richard Henry Lee, to read the Declaration of Independence at the old State House, Philadelphia, July 4th, 1876.

June 1848 he married Evelyn Byrd Page, of “Pagebrook,” Clarke County, and had five children.

Mary Page Lee 7, William Byrd Lee 7, Richard Henry Lee 7, Alice Atkinson Lee 7, Charles Henry Lee 7 and Evelyn Byrd Lee 7.


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