LEE, Henry (c.1657-1734), of ‘Dunjeen’, or ‘Dane John’, nr. Canterbury, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1685 - 1687
1689 - 1695
22 Dec. 1697 - 1698
1698 - 1708
1710 - 1715

Family and Education

b. c.1657, 2nd s. of John Lee alias Warner, DD (d. 1679), adn. of Rochester 1660, being 1st s. by his 3rd w. Anne, da. of Henry English of Maidstone.  educ. Balliol, Oxf. matric. 4 July 1673, aged 16.  m. 16 Oct. 1679, Dorothy (d. 1717), da of Sir George Grobham Howe, 1st Bt.†, of Berwick St. Leonard, Wilts., sis. of Sir James Howe, 2nd Bt.*, 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da., 2 other ch.1

Offices Held

Alderman, Canterbury 1684–Jan. 1688, freeman 1685, mayor 1687–Jan. 1688.2

Commr. sick and wounded 1702–4, victualling 1704–6, 1711–14.3


Lee was brought up firmly in the Tory tradition; his father was the nephew of Bishop Warner of Rochester, and he himself served as mayor of Canterbury after the city had received a new charter in 1684. He joined William of Orange and secured election to the Convention of 1689. Re-elected in 1690, his address given as ‘the precincts of Canterbury cathedral’, Lee was classed by the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as a Whig on a list of the new Parliament. However, this may have been a consequence of his reputed support for the ‘disabling clause’ (possibly a mistake for Sir Thomas Lee, 1st Bt.*, or Thomas Lee*). A second list marked by Carmarthen, dating from December 1690, does not include Lee among those considered likely to support the Marquess in the event of a parliamentary attack upon him. More plausibly, Robert Harley’s* list of April 1691 noted him as a Country supporter. Although there were numerous namesakes, with various spellings, Lee was usually identified by his militia rank of ‘Colonel’. ‘Colonel Lee’ was named to a single drafting committee in the first session of the 1690 Parliament, concerning the regulation of wines. However, by the 1692–3 session he was also acting as a teller: on 11 Jan. 1693 he told in favour of engrossing the bill for the importation of Italian thrown silk. According to Luttrell, the loss of this motion represented a victory for the wool interest against the silk industry, of which Canterbury was an important centre. On 18 Jan. Lee acted as a teller again, in favour of a petition for an estate bill. In the next session, he is recorded as having spoken on 29 Nov. 1693 in the debate on the miscarriages of the fleet, offering a less than ringing endorsement of the character of John Rutter, one of the witnesses before the Commons. He acted as a teller on three further occasions during this session: on 26 Feb. 1694 in favour of a motion to engross a bill against hawkers and pedlars, on 30 Mar. in favour of passing a bill to disfranchise Stockbridge, and on 16 Apr. in favour of adding a rider to the bill encouraging privateers to pardon the officers of men-of-war for offences already committed.4

Lee was defeated at Canterbury in 1695, subsequently withdrawing a petition. He returned to Parliament in December 1697 at a by-election for Hindon, close to the seat of his brother-in-law Howe. In 1698 he regained his seat at Canterbury, being described on a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments as a Country supporter. In April 1699 ‘Colonel Lee’ managed a Kentish estate bill through the Commons. On 4 May he told against a motion to bring in a bill for preventing abuses in the King’s Bench and Fleet prisons. In the following session, on 8 Feb. 1700, he acted as a teller in favour of adjourning the debate on the third reading of the bill hindering papists from disinheriting their Protestant heirs. On 26 Mar. he told in favour of a motion to receive the report from the committee on the bill for the repair of Dover harbour, and on 5 Apr. against a procedural motion setting a date for a report from the committee of privileges and elections. On an analysis of the House into ‘interests’, early in 1700, his name was marked with a query.

Re-elected for Canterbury in January 1701, Lee acted as a teller twice in the ensuing Parliament. On 23 Apr. he told against the committal of Pakington’s bill for the preservation of the Protestant religion and against the translation of bishops, which may demonstrate sensitivity to the interests of the archbishop of Canterbury. On 13 May he told against a motion that the four Kentish Petitioners remaining in custody be transferred to the Gatehouse prison, a somewhat surprising action given that the Petitioners were Whig partisans, but again one which may illustrate responsiveness to local opinion. Votes of this nature did not damage his re-election for Canterbury in November 1701, nor did the fact that his name had been included on a black list of those who had allegedly been opposed to preparations for war with France.

In the 1701–2 Parliament, Lee was again active as a teller, and in legislative matters. He voted for the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of William III’s ministers. On 10 Mar. he told in favour of allowing a relief bill from the effects of the resumption of Irish forfeited estates. He also reported on 30 Mar. 1702 from a committee on a bill for the relief of masters of hoys in Kent and Essex carrying corn into London, that an instruction to consider several petitions had been received after the committee had finished its deliberations. He therefore requested the Commons to recommit the bill. He was more closely involved in the initiative from London, Norwich and Canterbury to allow the import of thrown silk other than from France or Spain, being ordered on 8 May to prepare legislation and immediately presenting a bill which he then managed through the House. On 6 May he acted as a teller against a motion that the Speaker leave the Chair so that the House could proceed with the committee of the whole on the bill regulating frauds and abuses in salt duties. In another manifestation of local concern, on 15 May, he told in favour of an instruction to the committee considering the bill to naturalize Stephen Benovad and others, that they inquire into the ability and condition of the persons named in the bill, thereby responding to a perennial concern at Canterbury which often had to bear the brunt of impoverished immigrants from abroad. On 21 May Lee told against bringing up a rider relating to another relief bill.

The accession of Anne saw Lee obtain office in June 1702 as a commissioner for sick and wounded, and the following month secure his re-election to the Commons. Henceforth, administrative duties seem to have curtailed his parliamentary activities. He voted on 13 Feb. 1703 against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill enlarging the time for taking the abjuration oath. As early as April 1704 Luttrell announced his appointment to the victualling board, although a new commission including his name was not issued until September. On the crucial issue of the 1704–5 session, he failed to vote on 28 Nov. for the Tack.5

Returned again at the 1705 election, Lee appeared on a list of placemen and on an analysis in which he was classed as a ‘Churchman’. Just prior to the opening of the new Parliament Lord Godolphin (Sidney†) wrote to Harley that George Churchill* had spoken to Lee, ‘but you must speak to him too’. The issue which was causing anxiety to Godolphin became apparent on 25 Oct. 1705 when Lee was one of the few placemen to vote against the Court candidate for Speaker., From then on, Lee’s days in office were numbered, and he was left out of the remodelled victualling commission in June 1706. On 3 Mar. 1707 all the Members for Kent were added to the committee to examine expiring laws. The resultant bill, covering acts relating to the poor, the buying and selling of cattle at Smithfield and the suppression of piracy, was committed to the same committee and reported by Lee on 22 Mar. Having been dismissed from his employment, Lee was now unequivocally in the Tory camp, being classed as such on two analyses of Parliament in 1708, the second comparing the party situation after the 1708 election in which Lee lost his seat.6

Lee returned to the Commons in 1710. He was classed as a Tory on the ‘Hanover list’ and as a ‘worthy patriot’ who in the 1710–11 session helped to detect the mismanagements of the previous administration. He was also named as a member of the October Club. His main legislative activity this session was the management of an estate bill on behalf of John Hardres*. Harley had pencilled in Lee’s name for a return to the victualling commission as early as June 1711, but Lee had to wait until November to get his old job back. The appointment necessitated a by-election in December, at which Lee was returned unopposed. His name also appears on one of Harley’s canvassing lists, probably dating from January 1712, in relation to a proposed attack in the Commons on the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†). The Earl of Winchilsea and Edmund Lambert*, MP for Hindon, were deputed to approach Lee. On 20 Mar. Lee chaired the committee of the whole on the bill facilitating the completion of a chapel of ease at Deal through the imposition of a duty on water-borne coals brought into the town, reporting it on the 29th. He was also named to draft a local road bill. Lee’s lobbying for local interests was not confined to Parliament, for in March 1713 he attempted to secure the repayment of a debt owed by the marines to his Canterbury constituents which was estimated at £3,500. In the 1713 session, Lee voted on 18 June for the French commerce bill. In July he wrote to Harley, now Lord Oxford, in an attempt to safeguard ‘what I now enjoy by your lordship’s favour only’, namely his place on the victualling board, which he felt would be reduced to its peacetime strength of five members,

and as I am one of the last, though formerly in commission before any of my brethren, I may expect to be dismissed without your lordship’s special protection. I hope my behaviour at the board and in the House has been such as not to lessen me in that good opinion.

In the event the commission was not remodelled, so Lee went into the election campaign secure in the ministry’s favour.7

Not surprisingly, Lee voted for the Tory candidates in the Kent county poll of 1713, and was returned again for Canterbury. He does not seem to have been active in the 1714 Parliament, but was classed as a Tory on the Worsley list. He was defeated at the 1715 election and in the following July was removed from the commission of the peace, where he had sat since the Revolution. In his will, dated 1727, he described himself as ‘late of Dunjeen, near Canterbury’ and now of ‘Houghton juxta Walsingham, Norfolk’ (Houghton St. Giles), to which he had removed by 1720. From this it is clear that he had gone to live with his son, Henry Lee Warner*. The remainder of his will dealt mainly with South Sea stock, annuities and money secured by bond, most of which went to his daughters, Mary and Dorothy, and was presumably the result of dealing in investments, such as the £500–£2,000 of Bank stock he possessed in 1710. He died on 6 Sept. 1734.8

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. E. L. Warner, Life of John Warner, 66–67; IGI, Herts.
  • 2. Hasted, Kent, xi. 25; Freemen of Canterbury ed. Cowper, 320; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 354.
  • 3. London Gazette, 15–18 June 1702; Watson thesis, 396–8.
  • 4. Luttrell Diary, 361; Grey, x. 335.
  • 5. Navy Recs. Soc. ciii. 217; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 411.
  • 6. Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 24, 29.
  • 7. Add. 70332, memo. 4 June 1711; 70331, canvassing list c.1712; 70201, Lee to Oxford, 23 July 1713; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvii. 147.
  • 8. Centre Kentish Stud. Q/RPe1, pollbk.; P. K. Monod, Jacobitism and Eng. People, 174; info. from Prof. N. Landau; PCC 247 Ockham; Blomefield, Norf. ix. 245.