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194 Dartmouth Street

Boston, Jan. 27th., 1892


Dr. Edmund J. Lee[1]

1213 Walnut Street



My dear Sir,

Your esteemed favor of the 25th, inst. has just been received by me here, where I am passing the Winter, having been forwarded from my home in Fairhaven & I hasten to express my gratitude for the very flattering language you are good enough to use in reference to my little attempt to clear your family pedigree from the cloud of doubt which has been thrown over it by the wild hap-hazarding that has been indulged on the subject.

I was already, through the kindness of your brother, C. F. Lee Jr. of Alexandria, in possession of the letter of Dr. Harry Lee of Winchester (the gr. grandfather of my friend W. B. Lee of Wilts.) & of the inscription of Col. Thomas Lee of Virginia, but I had not heard of the old coat armour from Northumberland Co., can you give me any more exact account of this—the date of the building, name of estate, by whom built, blazon of the arms, &c? I do not think anything more is really needed but still all these scraps of evidence make the weight of proof still more crushing.

We must lay the whole blame of the trouble in the past on that most mendacious charlatan, Dr. F. G. Lee of Lambeth, whose perversion of the truth has been so long accepted & who has tried to make a cheap sort of reputation for himself out of your honored ancestors! His own pedigree as published in his “History of the Church of the B. V. M. of Thame” is a most brasen & impudent forgery & this I shall shortly expose in England as my proof is complete both that the pedigree is false & that he knew it to be so when he constructed it. He himself comes of a Tradesman family allied with Butchers & the like in Yorkshire & is of no more kin to the Lees of Quarrendon than he is to your own line.

Pray do not apologize either for writing or for the length of the letter. I am only too glad to exchange views with those of tastes similar to my own & to find that truth which only comes from free discussion and criticism of each other. In fact I have had reason to rather complain of the apathy of your people in the past which has made possible the juggling with their lineage that has taken place. At the outset of my work in the matter I wrote to Gov. Fitz Hugh Lee but never received the courtesey of a reply. It will give me great pleasure to send you the reprint when it is issued & to cooperate with you in any way in my power to complete the task of clearing up the parentage of the Emigrant.

With best respects believe me to remain, my dear Sir,

                                    Yours very sincerely


                                    J. Henry Lea[2]


Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 3, M2009.449, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 November 29

[1] Edmund Jennings Lee (1853-1922) was born in Alexandria. He attended Washington and Lee while Robert E. lee was president. Later, he studied medicine at the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Lee of Virginia, published in 1895. Lee died in Philadelphia.

[2] J. Henry Lea lived in Fairhaven, but was wintering in Boston. Lea, a genealogist and author, wrote “Lee of Virginia: genealogical notes proving the error of the previously accepted pedigree,” which was published in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register in June 1890.