LEE, Robert (c.1533-98), of Hatfield, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1533, 2nd s. of Sir Anthony Lee, bro. of Sir Henry and half-bro. of Richard Lee. educ. Winchester, scholar 1542; scholar, New Coll. Oxf., fellow 1548-53; G. Inn 1556. m. Jane, da. of Edward Restwold of The Vache, Bucks., wid. of Sir Francis Hastings of Fernwick, Bucks., 1da. d.v.p. At least 1s. illegit.

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) from c.1577, q. c.1583; keeper of the game in Hatfield chase by 1570 to 1594; receiver, duchy of Lancaster lands in Beds., Hunts., and Northants. 1591-4.1


Lee was still a minor when his father died. He was then bequeathed 200 marks, or £6 13s.4d. a year in land, and 200 ewes. He was a country gentleman, succeeding his wife’s first husband as keeper of the game in the royal chase, of which the Earl of Shrewsbury was surveyor. He had first obtained a lease of the parsonage of Hatfield in 1562, probably the date at which he settled there, and in December 1574 he obtained a further lease in reversion.2

By 1585 Lee and his wife had separated, she complaining to the Queen ‘both of his hard usage of her whilst she lived with him and of her miserable estate since she left him, being destitute of all things’. Lee offered an allowance amounting to half the rent from the lands in her possession at the time of their marriage, and Burghley ordered an assessment of Lee’s income. In 1587, when reporting to the Privy Council on the Yorkshire justices of the peace, the archbishop of York observed about Lee,

a notable open adventurer and will not be reformed. He useth his authority as well to work private displeasure as to serve other men’s turns. A very bad man and one that doth no good. Better put out than kept in.

Lee continued a justice until towards the end of his life.3

His only appearance in Parliament came when he was already an elderly man by Elizabethan standards. He sat for Huntingdon. (Sir) Thomas Heneage, chancellor of the duchy, wrote asking for a nomination in this year, and as the other Member was a local man, Lee was presumably his choice. Lee, since 1591, had been the holder of a duchy of Lancaster office, which he must have owed to Heneage, but no connexion between the two men has been established. In all probability it was Sir Henry Lee, no doubt a court acquaintance of Heneage, who was his brother’s intermediary.4

Towards the end of his life Lee was living near London. He had surrendered the mastership of the game in Hatfield chase in 1594, and was said, in 1595, to be prevented by gout from travelling. Lee’s will, made 27 Jan. 1598, was proved by Sir Henry, as executor, on 1 June 1598. He received £550, his grand-daughter Dorothy Reynsford £500, and his brother Cromwell Lee £150.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A. M. Mimardière


  • 1. E. K. Chambers, Sir Henry Lee, 76, 248; Egerton 2345, ff. 12-15; SP12/104; Lansd. 35, f. 133; SP13/case F/11, ff. 12-13; CPR 1569-72, p. 300; Somerville, Duchy, i. 589; PCC 57 Lewyn.
  • 2. PCC 23 Coode; Chambers, 76; HMC Hatfield, ii. 81.
  • 3. Lansd. 102, f. 222; Chambers, 76.
  • 4. R. Carruthers, Hist. Huntingdon, 164; Somerville, i. 589.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 565; C2 Eliz./S13/25; PCC 57 Lewyn; Chambers, 222.