Sir William Lee family papers
Scope and Contents
Series I, Correspondence, includes letters by William Lee (1729-1778) describing his extensive Grand Tour, as well as letters from other Lee relatives and Lord Hardwicke. Other subjects represented in the correspondence include county politics and elections and local legal matters; news of Parliament and current events, including the Jacobite Rebellion and the War of the Austrian Succession.
The remaining series primarily document Lee family financial and legal matters and Lee's service as Chief Justice. Additional documents relating to the Jacobite Rebellion are located in Series III, Political and Governmental Papers. A catalogue of Lee's library, along with many notes by Lee on his wide reading, is located in Series V, Notes on Reading and Other Papers.
- 1588 - 1814
- Majority of material found within 1710 - 1754
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Box 22, Fresh Wharf Estate Papers, was purchased from Bernard Quaritch, Ltd. on the James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Fund, 2002.
17.29 Linear Feet (28 boxes)
Language of Materials
Other correspondents include Scroop Egerton, the Duke of Bridgewater; Sir Roger Drake; and Lord Hardwicke. Hardwicke's letters concern patronage, the Marriage Act of 1753, and the trials of the Jacobite rebels, including Lords Kilmarnock, Cromarty and Balmerino. Other subjects represented in Lee's correspondence includecounty politics and elections and local legal matters; news of Parliament and current events, including the Jacobite Rebellion and the War of the Austrian Succession; and medical remedies and receipts. There are also letters from prisoners asking for pardons or commutations, and from tenants concerning estate matters.
Sir William Lee, 1688-1754
Lee married Anne Goodwin early in his career, and the couple had one son, William (d. 1778). Anne died in 1729, and in 1733 Lee married Margaret Drake Melmoth, a widow with a fortune of 25,000 pounds. In the same year, Lee's friend and colleague Lord Hardwicke was named Chief Justice. When Hardwicke was further promoted to Lord Chancellor in February 1737, he nominated Lee as his successor. Lee became Chief Justice on June 8th, and was also knighted that day as well.
Lee served as Chief Justice until his death, and was praised for his ability and impartiality as a judge. His court ruled that women who paid parish rates were entitled to vote in elections of parish officers. Lee presided at several of the treason trials of Jacobite rebels held by the special commission at Southwark in 1746. Among his rulings was R. v. Townley, which denied the defendant the right to be treated as a prisoner of war even though he held a commission in the service of the Pretender.
Lady Margaret Lee died in 1752; Sir William Lee died at his residence in Bloomsbury Square, London, after a stroke, on April 8, 1754. He was buried in the church at Hartwell, and left his fortune, including his manor at Totteridge, Hertfordshire, to his son William.
- Administration of estates -- Great Britain
- Austrian Succession, War of, 1740-1748
- Bridgewater, Scroop Egerton, Duke of, 1681-1745
- Drake, Roger, Sir
- Europe -- Description and travel
- Families -- England -- Domestic relations
- Farm tenancy -- Economic aspects -- Great Britain
- Grand tours (Education)
- Great Britain -- History -- 1714-1837
- Great Britain -- Politics and government -- 1714-1727
- Great Britain -- Politics and government -- 1727-1760
- Hardwicke, Philip Yorke, Earl of, 1690-1764
- Jacobite Rebellion, 1745-1746
- Judges -- Great Britain
- Landlord and tenant -- Great Britain
- Law -- Great Britain
- Lee family
- Lee, William, 1729-1778
- Lee, William, Sir, 1688-1754
- Medicine -- Great Britain
- Prisoners -- Great Britain
- Private libraries -- England -- Catalogs
- Guide to the Sir William Lee Family Papers
- by Diane J. Ducharme and Thanh Tran
- July 2010
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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