LEE, Sir Henry (1530/31-1611), of Quarrendon, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. 1530/31, 1st s. of Sir Anthony Lee of Quarrendon by Margaret, da. of Sir Henry Wyatt of Arlington Castle, Kent; bro. of Robert Lee and half-bro. of Richard Lee. educ. New Coll. Oxf. m. by 1554, Anne, da. of William Paget, 1st Baron Paget, 2s. 1da. all d.v.p. suc. fa. 24 Nov. 1549. Kntd. 2 Oct. 1553; KG nom. 23. Apr. inst. 24 May 1597.1

Offices Held

Clerk, the armoury by 1550, master June 1580-1602 or later; j.p. Bucks. by 1558/59-77 or later, q. by 1579-96 or later, Oxon. by 1577-96 or later; royal champion Nov. 1559-60; commr. musters, Oxon. 1573; steward, Woodstock, Oxon. 1573; master of the leash by 1574; constable, Harlech castle, Merion. by 1600.2


Henry Lee was in his late ’teens when his father died, but according to his monumental inscription, composed by a Kentish relative, he owed his childhood to Kent and Sir Thomas Wyatt I, and his youth to the court of Henry VIII, into whose service he was sworn at the age of 14. It was perhaps these circumstances which gave rise to the supposition that he was the King’s son. In 1537 his grandfather Sir Henry Wyatt left him £10 for his schooling, and this may have included a spell at Oxford where, on his own testimony in old age, he was once at New College. His name does not appear on the list of household officers and others drawn up for Henry VIII’s funeral, but within three years, and while still under age, he appears to have obtained a clerkship in the armoury; in March 1550 he accounted for the wages of the armourers for the previous nine months. By then he had succeeded to the family seat at Quarrendon and a string of Buckinghamshire manors.3

It is not known whether Lee took any part in the succession crisis of 1553, but if he joined his neighbours in Buckinghamshire who rallied to Mary his knighting at her coronation could have been the reward for that service. He may also have been sponsored by the 1st Baron Paget, to whose daughter he was probably already affianced if not married: Paget’s disgrace in the autumn of 1551 could have delayed the marriage but on Mary’s accession he was restored to favour and a settlement in May 1554 sealed the alliance. If Paget had maintained his early ascendancy Lee might have come to the fore sooner, but apart from an assignment to attend the burning of Latimer and Ridley at Oxford in October 1555, probably as an aide to Sir John Williams, Lord Williams of Thame, who was sent there to preserve order, he was given no public duties until the last year of the reign. His election as knight of the shire was then followed by his despatch, on the day before the opening of Parliament, to conduct a levy of 300 men from Staffordshire to Berwick. In April 1558 he took part in a raid into Scotland and was not recalled until 17 Oct.; he therefore probably missed the first session of the Parliament but could have attended the brief second one which ended with the Queen’s death.4

The reign of Elizabeth was to bring Lee renown for the tournaments which he staged as the Queen’s champion. He died on 12 Feb. 1611.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Aged 80 at death according to MI. E. K. Chambers, Sir Henry Lee, app. A; HMC Hatfield, iv. 529; C142/90/2; Wards 7/5/137; DNB.
  • 2. Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 407-8; APC, ii. 412; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 474; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 32; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 652; Lansd. 47, f. 41; 56, f. 168; Chambers, 43, 47, 82, 109; Index 6743 ex. inf. C. Blair; E101/64/11; HMC Hatfield, x. 180, CPR, 1572-5, p. 291.
  • 3. Chambers, 11-23, 27, 304-5; HMC Hatfield, iv. 529; Aubrey, Brief Lives, ed. Clark, ii. 32; LC2/2; The Gen. n.s.; xii. 191-2; PCC 23 Coode.
  • 4. Chambers, 30, 31; Wm. Salt. Arch. Soc. xii. 194-5; Foxe, Acts and Mons. vii. 547; APC, vi. 244, 396, 415.
  • 5. C142/322/139.