Colonel Richard "the Immigrant" Lee

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Colonel Richard Lee

Also Known As: "“The founder"", "Colonel Richard "The Immigrant" Lee Sr", "Richard Lee"
Birthplace: Nordley Regis, Shropshire, England
Death: before April 24, 1664
Cobb Hall, Dividing Creek, Northumberland, Virginia
Place of Burial: Dividing Creek, Northumberland County, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Anne Lee
Father of Capt. John Lee; Col. Richard “the scholar” Lee, II; Francis Lee; Ann Youell; Captain William Lee, Esq. and 3 others

Occupation: lawyer, planter, soldier, politician
Immigration Year: 1639
Offices: Clerk of the Quarter Court in 1641; Attorney General in 1643; Sheriff and Burgess of York County in 1646 and 1647; Secretary of State in 1649; and the Governor's Council in 1651.
Managed by: Jacqueli Charlene Finley
Last Updated:

About Colonel Richard "the Immigrant" Lee

Richard Lee I (c 1613/1617 – 1664), later nicknamed "The Immigrant" was the first member of the Lee family to live in America; he emigrated from Shropshire, England to Virginia in 1639. Lee was a lawyer, planter, soldier, politician, and Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. By the time of his death, Lee was the largest landholder in Virginia, with 13,000 acres, and perhaps the richest man in Virginia.


From retrieved 18 May 2019

Not long after his arrival he married Anne Constable, a ward of the Governor, Sir Francis Wyatt.

Richard Lee I and his wife Anne raised eight children:

  • 1. John Lee (1643–1673) of "Mount Pleasant", who never married
  • 2. Col. Richard Lee II of "Paradise", "the Scholar" (1647–1715), who married Laetitia Corbin (c.1657–1706), daughter of Hon. Henry Corbin, Sr. (1629–1676) and Alice (Eltonhead) Burnham (c.1627–1684). Great-Great-grandfather of General Robert E. Lee
  • 3. Francis Lee (1648–1714) a merchant in England, who married Tamar.
  • 4. Capt. William Lee (1651–1696)
  • 5. Capt. Hancock Lee, Hon. (1653–1709) of "Ditchley", who married 1) Mary Kendall (1661–1694); 2) Sarah Elizabeth Allerton (1671–1731), daughter of Col. Isaac Allerton, Jr. (1630–1702) (son of Isaac Allerton of the Mayflower) and (grandson of William Brewster of the Mayflower) and his second wife, Elizabeth (Willoughby) Grandfather of President Zachary Taylor
  • 6. Elizabeth (Betsey) Lee (1654–1714), who married 1) Leonard Howson Sr (1648–1704); 2) John Turberville (1650–1728), son of George Turberville IV (1638-c.1659) and Bridget
  • 7. Anne Lee (1654–1701), who married Maj. Thomas Youell Jr (1644–1695), son of Thomas Youell (1615–1655) and Anne Sturman (d. 1672)
  • 8. Capt. Charles Lee Sr (1655–1701) of "Cobbs Hall", who married Elizabeth Medstand, daughter of Thomas Medstand (−1675). Ancestor of the Manning family of Eli Manning and Peyton Manning

His widow Anna (or Anne) married again to Edmund Lister before 24 September 1666. The date of her death is unknown, although legend has it that she was buried beside Lee near the house at "Dividing Creeks".


From Society of the Lees of Virginia (full text)

Richard Lee’s will directed that his property at Stratford, England be sold, and that the proceeds be used to discharge his debts, to complete the education of John and Richard at Oxford, and to provide dowries for his daughters, Elizabeth and Anne. In Virginia, he left the Machodoc plantation to his son John, the Paradise plantation to Richard, "War Captain’s Neck" to Francis, and the Maryland plantation to William. The Dividing Creek plantation he left to his widow for her lifetime and afterwards to be divided among his younger sons, William, Hancock, and Charles.

Disputed Origins

English property

'West Ham: Introduction', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6, ed. W R Powell (London, 1973), pp. 43-50. British History Online [accessed 20 August 2021].

About 1700 there was a spurt of growth at Stratford. Defoe reported in 1722, no doubt with exaggeration, that it had more than doubled in size during the previous 20 or 30 years. He also stated that two new hamlets had grown up on the forest side of the village, namely Maryland Point, on the Woodford Road, and the Gravel Pits on the Ilford Road. (fn. 35) Maryland Point is shown on a map of 1696. (fn. 36) The first house there is said to have been built by a rich merchant who returned to England from Maryland. (fn. 37) Various attempts have been made to identify the merchant. The most likely candidate is Richard Lee (d. 1664), who emigrated to Virginia about 1640. (fn. 38) Among his estates was land on the Maryland side of the Potomac river, near a place known in 1676 as Maryland Point. (fn. 39) He returned to England in 1658, and in 16589 bought properties at Stratford Langthorne. In 1662 he had a house there with 9 hearths. (fn. 40) Whatever its origin, Maryland Point became a permanent place-name in West Ham. The Gravel Pits, the other new hamlet mentioned by Defoe, is not named on any map. (fn. 41) It was probably the settlement, north of Stratford Common (or Green), shown on later maps.

38. W.H.L., File on Maryland Point. Much of the inf. on Ric. Lee comes from: Ludwell L. Montagu, 'Richard Lee the Emigrant', Virginia Magazine of Hist. and Biog. lxii (1954) 1 sqq., the writer of which does not, however, accept the identification of Lee with the merchant mentioned by Morant.


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Colonel Richard "the Immigrant" Lee's Timeline

March 22, 1613
Nordley Regis, Shropshire, England
August 6, 1615
Age 2
Shropshire, Shropshire, England, United Kingdom
Age 1
Old Lee Graveyard At, Cobbs Hall, Northumberland Co., VA
March 22, 1618
Age 5
On Way to Va. From England
Age 26
to, Va, from, Straford-Langston, Co Essex, England
Age 26
to, Va, from, Straford-Langston, Co Essex, England
Age 26
to, Va, from, Straford-Langston, Co Essex, England
Northampton County, Virginia, British Colonial America