LEE (formerly HASSALL), Sir Richard (c.1545-1608), of Dane John, nr. Canterbury, Kent and the Savoy, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1604 - 22 Dec. 1608

Family and Education

b. c.1545, illegit. s. of Sir Anthony Lee† (d.1549) of Quarrendon, Bucks. and Anne, da. of Richard Hassall of Hassall and Hankelow, Cheshire; half-bro. of Sir Henry Lee† and Robert Lee†.1 m. (1) by 1582, Mary (d.1587), da. of John Blundell†, merchant, of London and Steeple Barton, Oxon., wid. of Sir Gerard Croker of Hook Norton, Oxon., 1s. d.v.p.;2 (2) 1589, Alice (bur. 24 Apr. 1592),3 da. of Sir Thomas Kempe† of Olantigh, Wye, Kent, wid. of Sir James Hales of Dane John, s.p.4 kntd. 1 June 1600.5 d. 22 Dec. 1608.6

Offices Held

Freeman, Canterbury 1590, common councilman by 1593;7 j.p. Kent 1591-d.;8 commr. subsidy, Kent 1595, Canterbury 1608-d.;9 constable, Harlech, Merion. 1600-d.;10 ranger, Canterbury park by 1604.11

Amb. to Muscovy 1600-1.12


The Lees of Quarrendon were descended from a Cheshire gentleman who migrated to Buckinghamshire in the fifteenth century and represented Warwick in 1467.13 Lee was left in financial ruin and poor health by his unsuccessful embassy to Moscow, for neither Elizabeth nor the merchants who had chosen him were afterwards prepared to help meet his expenses.14 He attended the queen’s funeral as an official mourner.15 A frequent visitor to Woodstock, where his half-brother Sir Henry resided as steward of the Crown manor, he was returned to the first Stuart Parliament for the borough, being perhaps in need of parliamentary privilege to stave off his creditors.16 He was among those appointed on 17 Mar. 1606 to consider a bill for explanation of an Elizabethan Act restricting the export of undressed cloth. Four days later he was added to the committee on the bill for reform of the Marshalsea Court. In the next session he was appointed to the committee for a fen drainage bill when it was recommitted on 9 May 1607.17

After the end of the third session Lee’s health finally broke down. A visit to Spa in the summer of 1608 left him still ‘in poor case’ with gout, and on 4 Oct. he drew up his will.18 It was fortunate that he lacked surviving children, as he had little property to leave, most of it having been forfeited to pay his debts. However, he left the ‘gown of the Tartar lamb given me by the emperor of Muscovia’ and some Russian books to the Bodleian Library, and provided two annuities of 20s. for the maintenance of poor scholars at Magdalen and St. John’s Colleges, Oxford. He named his kinsman Sir Lawrence Tanfield* an overseer, but made no mention of his brother, Sir Henry, presumably counting him among the (unnamed) friends of whose indifference he complained.19 He died on 22 Dec. 1608, possibly an outlaw for debt, and was buried, as he had requested, near his mother at Hardwick in Buckinghamshire.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. The Gen. n.s. viii. 231.
  • 2. VCH Oxon. vi. 119; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1580-1625, p. 63; M. Dickins, Hook Norton, 60, 164.
  • 3. Canterbury Cathedral (Harl. Soc. Reg. ii), 112.
  • 4. HMC 9th Rep. i. 158.
  • 5. Letters of Philip Gawdy ed. I.H. Jeayes, 98; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 98.
  • 6. W.R. Williams, Parl. Hist. Oxon. 198.
  • 7. Freemen of Canterbury ed. J.M. Cowper, 319; HMC 9th Rep. i. 159.
  • 8. Hatfield House, ms 278; SP13/Case F/11, f. 19; C66/1549.
  • 9. Staffs. RO, D593/S/4/38/16; SP14/31, f. 20.
  • 10. HMC Hatfield, x. 180; xx. 295.
  • 11. Ibid. xvii. 91.
  • 12. Ibid. x. 169.
  • 13. Recs. Bucks. iii. 203-14.
  • 14. HMC Hatfield, x. 76; xi. 306, 538; xii. 420; xvi. 74; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 422.
  • 15. LC2/4/4, f. 62v.
  • 16. E.K. Chambers, Sir Henry Lee, 176-7, 224.
  • 17. CJ, i. 285b, 288a, 371b.
  • 18. HMC Downshire, ii. 69; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 262.
  • 19. PROB 11/113, f. 61.
  • 20. HMC 9th Rep. i. 161.