The Lee Family of York County, Virginia
Hal Bridges

Note: The following is taken from the July 1915 issue of The William and Mary Quarterly (volume 24), pp. 46–54.


In 1647 Mr. Henry Lee obtained from the Court of York a certificate for 250 acres of land, as due him on account of the importation of five persons into the Colony—John Lee, Henry Lee, Elizabeth Blashfield, Anne Russell and Thomas Johnson. July 25, 1648, the following persons were present as justices of York County: Capt. Nicholas Martian, Mr. Hugh Gwin, Capt. Ralph Wormeley, Mr. Richard Lee, Mr. Francis Morgan, Mr. Rowland Burnham, Mr. Augustine Warner, Mr. Henry Lee, and Mr. Francis Willis.

These were the important men of the county, and several of them—Ralph Wormeley, Richard Lee, Augustine Warner, and Francis Willis—became members of the Council. In those days “Mr.” was a term of respect. Ordinary people had no handle to their names.

It will be observed that Mr. Henry Lee sat on the same bench with Mr. Richard Lee; and Mr. Richard Lee was a burgess for York Co. in 1647 and Mr. Henry Lee was burgess in 1652. This close connection might suggest close relationship, but there is still other evidence. Richard Lee was surety for Henry Lee in a bond recorded Sept. 25, 1646, to indemnify Mrs. Sibella Felgate, widow of Capt. Robert Felgate, decd., for turning over to Henry Lee nine cattle belonging to John Adkins. The bond explains that those cattle were formerly in the custody of Capt. Robert Felgate, who married the mother of the said John Adkins, brother of Marah, the wife of the above named Henry Lee. (See WILLIAM AND MARY QUARTERLY, IV., pp. 37, 38.) Felgate’s Creek received its name from Captain Robert Felgate, who, with his brother, Tobias Felgate, a well known ship captain, patented land now know as “Ringfield,” in the neck made by Felgate’s Creek and King’s Creek as they enter York River.

Richard Lee moved to Northumberland County, and was ancestor of the eminent family of the Lee name resident for a long time in Westmoreland County, and numbering among its members Richard Henry Lee, the orator of the revolution, and Robert E. Lee, the hero of the Civil War (1861–1865).

In 1648 Richard Lee patented 1,250 acres on the north side of York River, and among those for whom he claimed land were Henry, Matthew and George Lee. The Colony at that time encouraged emigration by granting fifty acres for every person imported, and this right was called “a headright” Later there was a Robert Lee, of Gloucester County, who got out a patent for land originally patented in part by Richard Lee. In his will Richard Lee describes himself as of “Stratford-Langton in the County of Essex, Esquire,” but his line in England has never yet been traced.

It is also to be noticed that the bond of Henry and Richard Lee above mentioned was witnessed by William Lee, who was a physician and merchant in York County. In I660 George Lee, “Citizen and Grocer of London” appointed his “brother” George Underwood, then resident at London, and sent him to Virginia, as his lawful attorney to collect all dues and debt remaining in the hands of “my brother William Lee or Christopher Harris or any other person or persons in Virginia.” Christopher Harris also lived in York County.

George Lee was a London merchant, who dealt largely with Virginia. He was probably the George Lee, who Col. Richard Lee numbered among his headrights in 1648. After residing in Virginia for sometime and patenting lands in York County he returned to England. After George Underwood (probably a brother-in-law), he had as his agent in Virginia Robert Whitchare in 1661, then Daniel Park, and in 1674 he appointed Captain Richard Johnson, of New Kent, his successor. He shipped servants and goods, and brought back tobacco, and among the servants sent over by him were two nephews John Jones and John Symons. (WILLIAM AND MARY COLLEGE QUARTERLY, XI., 35, 37.)

It seems probable that Richard Lee, Henry Lee, Robert Lee, William Lee, John Lee, Matthew Lee and George Lee were all kinsmen, and researches in England may yet establish the kinship.

I HENRY LEE died about 1657, when accounts of his estate were entered in York County. George Wale married the widow.* Later in 1662 Thomas Haynes was guardian of Mary and Sarah, “orphans of Mr. Henry Lee.”

1 Issue of Henry Lee: 2 Henry, 3 Mary, 4 Sarah.

2 HENRY LEE2 (Henry1) came of age in 1666, and was a physician and farmer. In 1688 he sold to Isaac Collier a tract of land adjoining Robert Potter’s land, which was to be held “according to the ancient bounds Mr. Henry Lee, Sr., father unto the said Henry Lee held it.” He married Alice, the only daughter and heiress of William Davis, and his will dated April 23, 1693, was proved May 24, 1693. In this will he named his wife Alice and sons 5 William, 6 Henry, who came of age ill 1707 when his estate was paid him, and who was living in 1711 when he preferred an account for carpenter’s work.

Alice Lee, the widow, who married 2dly. before January 10, 1694, Richard Wood, took an inventory that day of the personal estate of her late husband. Among the articles were “a pair of small scales a small box & weights and a chirurgeon’s box.”

5 WILLIAM3 LEE (Henry,2 Henry1) requested the court in 1696 to appoint Mr. William Wade, his guardian, which was so done. Under his father’s will, he heired the manor plantation. In 1712 he preferred a claim for 23 days carpenter’s work done by his apprentice on the Battery at Yorktown, under the supervision of Edward Powers. He lived on his estate in Yorkhampton Parish, and married Anne ——; (probably Harrison), and his will dated October 12, 1728, and proved Dec. 13, 1728, names his children 7 Francis, to whom he gave all his lands, 8 Anne, who married Hunter, 9 Sarah, who married 1st Matthew Harris (died 1727), and had William Harris; married, 2dly., Edward Baptist (named in William Lee’s will) and had Lee Harris, named as “son” in will of Elizabeth Baptist (2d wife of Edward Baptist). See Wood, Albemarle Co., p. 219 and Wills of Edward and Elizabeth Baptist proved in 1747 and 1748.

7 FRANCIS4 LEE (William,3 Henry,2 Henry1) lived on the land of his ancestors in Yorkhampton parish called “Chiskiack or Cheescake,” after the Indian tribe of that name, who inherited the country west of Yorktown in I607. He married, and his will dated 30 March, 1752, was proved Dec. 17, 1753. In it he names his children 10 William Lee, eldest son, and heir at law, to whom he gave “the plantation whereon I now live,” 11 Henry, “all his land in Warwick Co.”, 12 Francis, who is under age, land in York County “for his life,” whereon Mary Crockett now lived, four negroes, and to be maintained by his brothers William and Henry “in good board, clothes and schooling at their own proper costs.” Under the law as it stood then, all the York County land in the end would have vested in William Lee.

After this time the York County Records have for forty years but few notices of the Lees, the reason being that they preferred to reside in Warwick County, adjoining York. I find that William and Francis Lee were both living there in 1758, and that in 1786 Francis Lee was one of the Overseers of the Poor and that Mr. William Lee was “late churchwarden of the Upper Precincts of Warwick County.”

There was a John Lee, however, who continued to reside in York. In 1769 he brought suit against one John Hilton. He was probably a son of 6 Henry3 Lee, son of Henry2 Lee. According to an order recorded March 18, 1834, in York Court, this John Lee was an officer in the War of the Revolution and died in February, 1821, leaving issue: (1) Aphra, who married William Scott, (2) Elizabeth, who married Charles Hansford, (3) Sarah, who married Walker Hubbard, (4) Martha, who married Robert P. Shellurn and (5) Lavinia, who married Filmer Clark (who died before the (late of the order).

On July 16, 1781, certificate was granted by York County to William and Francis Lee for obtaining letters of administration on the estate of their brother Henry Lee, deceased.

10 WILLIAM5 LEE (Francis,4 William,3 Henry,2 Henry1) lived in Warwick County and died about 1795. His will cannot be found, but as he was his father’s eldest son and heir and inherited his land, he must have been father of Francis Lee, Jr., of “Chiskiack,” York Co. Issue seven sons: 13 Francis Lee, and the brothers named in his will dated July 26, 1798, 14 Higginson Wade Lee, 15 William W. Lee, 16 Haynes Lee. Family statements indirectly supported by the county records add three other sons, 17 Whitaker Lee, 18 John Lee, 19 Robert Lee.

13 FRANCIS6 LEE, son of William Lee, was inspector of tobacco at York warehouse, in 1794, Overseer of the Poor in 1795; married in 1783 Rachel Baptist, daughter of Edward Baptist, of York Co., and Margaret Harwood, his wife, daughter of Col. William Harwood, of Warwick Co., member of the House of Burgesses; left issue by his will dated July 26, 1798: 20 William Lee, 21 Jane Whitaker Lee, 22 Dorothy, 23 Margaret Harwood Lee. William W. Lee was executor of Francis Lee’s will and guardian of his children William and Margaret Harwood Lee. On August 20, 1799, John and William W. Lee were acting executors.

20 WILLIAM7 LEE, son of Francis Lee and Rachel Baptist, his wife, came of age about 1809, when he married Elizabeth Wynne (born March 3, 1792), daughter of his uncle Higginson Lee and Elizabeth Wynne, daughter of Thomas Wynne and had issue Anne Miller Lee, born Nov. 28, 1807, died Nov. 1, 1833, 24 William (Warren), born 1809, died January 24, 1900, aged ninety-one without issue, 25 Francis (Harrison) born 1814, died August 10, 1875, who married Sarah Lee, half sister of Edward Lee, of Wilianisburg, but died without issue.

William Lee, father of these children died before January 16, 1815, when the widow Elizabeth, with Haynes Lee and William Lee, as sureties, gave bond in York County to administer her husband’s estate. January 19, 1818, John R. Lee, and Elizabeth Lee, his wife, brought suit against Ann, Francis and William Lee, infant children of William Lee deceased. By this second marriage with John R. Lee Elizabeth Wynne Lee had Henry Harwood Lee (born 1819), who married Vestilla Armstrong (born 1831, died 1886) of Essex Co., and they were parents of William Warren Harrison Lee (born Feb. 26, 1857) the present owner of “Chiskiack,” to whom the place came from his half uncles, 24, William (Warren) Lee, and 25 Francis (Harrison) Lee. “Chiskiack” is one of the few estates in Virginia that has continued uninterruptedly in the family (since the original patent to Henry Lee, the emigrant from England). In 1810 this estate was assessed at 246 acres.

14 HIGGINSON W.6 LEE, son of William Lee, married in 1787, Elizabeth Wynne (born 1765, died March 25, 1799), daughter of Thomas Wynne, of York Co. (Marriage bond in WILLIAM AND MARY COLLEGE QUARTERLY, I., 56) and had issue: 26 William, born Feb. 4, 1789, 27 Elizabeth Wynne, born March 3, 1792, who married as above stated, first William Lee, of “Chiskiack” and 2dly. John R. Lee, 28 Thomas, born Jan. 17, 1796, 29 Lucy, born June 8, 1798. (Fanily Bible). In a chancery suit in 1817 in York Co., in which the Wynnes and Lees were concerned, one-fifth part of a tract of land was assigned to William, Thomas and Elizabeth Lee, then the wife of John R. Lee, in right of their mother Elizabeth Lee, formerly Elizabeth Wynne. Higginson Lee died in Warwick Co. before 1816. His name implies a connection with the Higginson family of James City County, who were descended from a Capt. Christopher Higginson, brother of Col. Humphrey Higginson, a member of the Governor’s council in 1641, and who an old record says was “a near kinsman of the Bishop of Ely.”

15 WILLIAM WHITAKER6 LEE, son of William Lee, lived in Warwick Co. He was executor of Francis Lee, of “Chiskiack,” and guardian of his children and died about 1814, when, by the terms of his will, Robert Lee, as shown by the assessor’s books, succeeded to his estate in York Co., 122 acres. In 1816, “Haynes Lee, who was executor of William W. Lee, who was executor of Higginson W. Lee” sued Kemp Charles in Warwick Co.

16 HAYNES6 LEE, son of William Lee, was a resident of Warwick Co., and died about 1816. He married —— Harwood, and had issue: 30 Higginson H., 31 Elizabeth Naylor Lee, married Graves, 32 Martha Lee, married Frederick Bryan and moved to Indiana before 1838.

30 HIGGINSON H.7 LEE, son of Haynes Lee, married his first cousin Ann Eliza Lee, daughter of Whitaker Lee, and had 33 Ann Elizabeth, who married John Lightfoot, of New Kent, 34 William Whitaker Lee, married, but left no issue, 35 Watkins, died in infancy, 36 Mattie Eliza, died in infancy. (Mrs. Rosa M. Bowden’s statement.)

17 WHITAKER6 LEE, son of William Lee, born in Warwick County, married Ann Kirby in 1806, and had three sons and four daughters: 37 Ann Eliza, married Higginson H. Lee, son of Haynes Lee, 38 Robt. Goodwin Harwood, b. 1811, md. Margaret Burnham, 39 Matilda, born 1813, married Francis Burnett, of New Jersey, 40 John Henry Mortimer, born 1819, married Sarah Miles Burnham, of Warwick Co., and was father of Mr. Charles Lee now resident in Williamsburg, 41 Francis, died infant, 42 Malvina Peyton, died unmarried, 43 Rosalia Adeline, born 1822, married Johnson Sands, of Williamsburg, son of Thomas Sands (born 1767; died and is buried at Chiskyack churchyard). Thomas Sands had issue: Thomas, Johnson, William G., Alexander H. (prominent lawyer of Richmond) LeRoy Skinner, Eliza, who married Charles Matthews, and Sidney A. Sands, who married William Burnham. Rosalia Adeline (Lee) Sands, was mother of Mrs. Rosa M. Bowden, widow of Thomas Russell Bowden, of Williamsburg. She is still living.

18 JOHN6 LEE, son of William Lee, lived in Warwick County and married in 1792 Lucy Wynne, daughter of Thomas Wynne, of York Co. (Marriage bond in WILLIAM AND MARY QUARTERLY, I., p. 56.) In the chancery decree between the Wynnes and Lees, in 1817, already mentioned his children are given as (1) Mary P. Lee, (2) Thomas.

19 ROBERT6 LEE (otherwise Robert H. Lee, of Warwick Co.) died in 1834, aged 68, married first Jane Shepherd, secondly Sarah, daughter of John Kirby, and had (1) Edward, died unmarried, (2) William, died unmarried, (3) Shepherd, killed in 1831 in Nat Turner’s Insurrection, aged 24, (4) Mary, married George Jones, (5) Jane, married James Kirby, (6) Richard Decatur, who owned “Lee Hall” in York Co., (7) Sarah, married Allen Davis: Issue sons Robt. Lewis, Philip P., Shepherd, Richard Lee; daughters Martha Jones, Mary Francis, married Christian, Columbia, married Thomas Harwood, Sarah, Elizabeth and Lelia.

11 HENRY5 LEE (Francis,4 William,3 Henry,2 Henry1), died in 1781, when as already shown his brothers, William and Francis Lee, obtained administration on his estate. His personalty was appraised and valued at £572, 12s, 6d. He married Elizabeth ——, and is said to have lived at “Lee Hall,” Warwick Co. Issue, as appears from entries in a Bible, which, however, do not appear to be altogether contemporary: 44 John Roger Lee, born at “Lee Hall,” Warwick Co., 1773, 45 Sarah H., “daughter of Henry Lee and Elizabeth, his wife,” died Oct. 18, 1774, married John Power, 46 probably Henry, who married Elizabeth Harwood, daughter of Col. Edward Harwood and Elizabeth Reade, his wife, a descendant of Col. George Reade of the Council, who died in 1671.

44 JOHN ROGER LEE, son of Henry Lee, married about 1816, Elizabeth Wynne Lee, daughter of Higginson Lee and Elizabeth Wynne, his wife, and widow of William Lee, of ”Chiskiack,” and had (1) Elizabeth R. Lee, born March 11, 1819, died Oct. 16, 1849, (2) Henry Harwood Lee, died Aug. 25, i886, and (3) Lucy Harwood Lee.

12 FRANCIS5 LEE (Francis,4 William,3 Henry,2 Henry1) lived in Warwick County, married Elizabeth ——, and died about 1794, leaving issue: 47 John Lee, 48 Williamn H. Lee, 49 Humphrey, a school teacher, 50 Francis. This is shown by the assessor’s books in the auditor’s office, which has this statement for the year 1794: “Elizabeth Lee from Francis Lee, deceased, by will, 642 acres; John Lee from ditto by ditto 215½ acres; William H. Lee from ditto by ditto 215½ acres.” And in 1816 the tract of 642 acres given to the widow Elizabeth was assessed equally to Humphrey and Francis Lee (321 acres apiece), which shows that they must have been her sons.

47 JOHN LEE,6 son of Francis Lee, of Warwick Co., died before 1812, leaving two children (1) Mary Lee, who married her first cousin, Edward Presson Lee, and (2) Thomas Lee, Sr.

48 WILLIAM H.6 LEE, son of Francis Lee, of Warwick County, married Martha (Presson?) and had six children: 51 Lewis, 52 Mary, 53 Baker Perkins, 54 Edward Presson, who married Mary Lee, daughter of John Lee, of Warwick Co., 55 Francis W. Lee, 57 William Presson Lee. This is shown by the books in the Auditor’s office for the year 1817, when William H. Lee’s estate of 215½ acres was assessed—24½ acres to Martha Lee, of Warwick Co., as “dower from William H. Lee’s estate,” and the balance, 191 acres, assessed equally (31 5–6 acres apiece) to the six persons naned, Lewis Lee, &c. In the York Records, in 1823, Martha Lee, guardian of Mary and Francis Lee, “orphans of William H. Lee,” for the benefit of William Presson Lee, brings suit for a negro boy. Then there is a deed dated April 13, 1727, from Edward P. Lee, William Lee, Francis W. Lee and William Presson Lee to Baker P. Lee, for all their right and title in the estate of which “our deceased brother Lewis Lee died possessed.”

53 BAKER P. LEE, son of William H. Lee, was born in Warwick County in 1790, and in 1817 was residing in Norfolk. He was afterwards a merchant in Yorktown, in partnership with his brother Lewis till Lewis’ death in 1827, and afterwards continued the store. In 1833 he was one of the justices of York County and continued in this office for many years. He died in 1866. He married Frances Curtis Wills, daughter of Matthew Wills, one of the justices of Warwick Co. He had issue: 56 Baker P. Lee, 57 Mattie, married William L. Young, 58 Willis Lee, of Baltimore, all three of whom joined, in 1880, in conveying “Washington’s Lodge,” near Yorktown, to the Old Dominion Land Company.

56 BAKER P.8 LEE, son of Baker P. Lee, Sr., was born at Yorktown, March 12, 1830, was major in the Confederate army and a member of the General Assembly. He married Mary E. Simpkins, daughter of Dr. Jesse Harvey Simpkins and had issue: 59 Rev. Baker P. Lee, of California, 60 Goodwin, of New York, 61 Arthur, of Newport News, 62 Francis, of Newport News, 63 Richard Henry Lee, 64 Frances, who married Harry W. Booker, of Hampton, and is now residing there.

Hon. Baker P. Lee died at Hampton, September 2, 1901.


* This surviving wife may not have been Marah Adkins. Henry Lee may have had another wife, as frequent marriages were a characteristic of our ancestors.