LEE, William II (d.c.1442), of Podmore and Aston, Staffs.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Warws. July 1406, Staffs. Nov. 1436, Jan. 1439; inquiry Apr. 1419 (lands held by a tenant of the earl of Stafford), Dec. 1420 (lands of Thomas Swynnerton, an outlaw), Jan. 1439 (hoarding of grain); to raise loans Jan. 1420; assess a grant Apr. 1431; distribute tax allowances Jan. 1436; of gaol delivery, Stafford Nov. 1439.
Escheator, Staffs. 7 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410, 5 Nov. 1430-26 Nov. 1431.
J.p. Staffs. 6 July 1415-20, 12 Feb. 1422-Nov. 1442.
Dep. justiciar, S. Wales by 18 Jan. 1424-c. June 1438.2
Lee is first mentioned during the Easter term of 1390, when he and William Colclough† stood surety for a Staffordshire man who was being sued for debt. The Colcloughs were Newcastle burgesses with whom Lee appears to have been on close terms, for in June 1413 he and the former MP, Hugh Colclough, acted as feoffees-to-uses for John Delves†, a local landowner of some consequence.3 The Thomas Lee who represented Newcastle in 1421 and 1427 was probably his kinsman, although this cannot now be proved. He had himself by then been returned for the borough on three occasions; and had, moreover, established the connexion with the Tuchet family which was to prove so useful to him in later life. In February 1409, Lee acted as a mainpernor for the custodians of the estates of the late John Tuchet, 4th Lord Audley, and five years later he appeared before the justices of the King’s bench on behalf of the 5th Lord, who was still a minor. Since he was a lawyer, it seems reasonable to suppose that he served on the young Lord Audley’s council, an assumption supported by his appointment in, or shortly before, January 1424, as Audley’s deputy in the justiciarship of South Wales. Six years later Lee was made a feoffee-to-uses of Tuchet family property in several counties, and in November 1436 he joined with Audley in offering securities of 1,000 marks to the latter’s future son-in-law, Sir Edward Brooke† (later Lord Cobham).4 Lee’s association with Humphrey, earl of Stafford, probably resulted from his judicial work along the Welsh march, where the earl owned extensive estates. In February 1432, Stafford made him one of ten itinerant justices in his lordship of Newport, and in April 1441 he was again called upon to hold sessions at Newport castle. He may well have been one of Earl Humphrey’s councillors, too, although he was not otherwise closely involved in his affairs. He did, however, choose both the earl and Lord Audley, together with at least two other members of the Stafford family, to act in 1432 as trustees of his share of the Rickhill estates, and was at this time a party to a recognizance in £40 made jointly with William Hexstall†, one of the earl’s chief ministers. Lee, moreover, appears to have been friendly with John Stafford, bishop of Bath and Wells, who was associated with him in various property transactions during the 1430s.5
Lee’s position in county society is reflected in his frequent appearances as a royal commissioner and office-holder. He was twice made escheator of Staffordshire, and sat for 27 years on the local bench. His legal training made him particularly well qualified for duties of this kind (he is first described as an apprentice-at-law in 1431, but probably achieved this status some years before); and he also exercised a good deal of influence as a landowner. He purchased the manor of Aston with its widespread appurtenances in about July 1420, when John Hinkley, the previous owner, pledged revenues worth 20 marks a year from land in Suffolk as a guarantee of his secure title; and over the next 12 years he further consolidated his estates in the area. By 1439 he had also acquired property in the Staffordshire village of Morton: not long afterwards he began a lawsuit against the parishoners who challenged his claim to farm the rectory there.6 It is difficult to establish the precise nature of Lee’s title to part of the estates of Sir William Rickhill (d.1407), j.c.p., comprising land in Mokelton Hall, Essex, and the manors of Paddington in Surrey and Islingham, Kent. Some of these holdings had previously been settled upon one John Lee (to whom he was probably related) by Richard Bruyn† and his wife, Joan, the judge’s grand daughter. Bruyn and our Member sat together in the Parliament of 1435 and may perhaps have married sisters, for in November 1441 Lee conveyed a reversionary interest in his manor of Aston to Bruyn, whom he described as his ‘brother’. In this event, he would have been the son-in-law of John Rickhill (shire knight for Kent in 1423), and a kinsman by marriage of John’s eldest brother, William, with whom he attended the Commons of 1420.7 Lee benefited from only one item of royal patronage, namely the grant to him, in February 1421, of the wardship and marriage of the young John Stafford. He did not enjoy this award for very long, however, since in the following year the letters patent were revoked and re-issued in favour of Joan, Lady Abergavenny.8
Very little is known about Lee’s personal life. Predictably for a lawyer, he was involved in many property transactions, including those of Sir William Newport*, (Sir) William Peyto*, Sir Hugh Luttrell* and, as we have already seen, John Delves and James, Lord Audley. He may well have acted as an attorney for various members of the Delves family, since his interest in their affairs was considerable.9 Together with (Sir) Richard Lacon*, John Wood I* and Richard Colfox, Lee offered sureties of £200 in Chancery in February 1419 for Hugh Cholmodeley, but although both Cholmodeley and Colfox had lollard sympathies, there is nothing to suggest that he himself held heretical views of any kind. Lee attended the Staffordshire elections to the Parliaments of 1421, 1431 and 1435, and was in addition listed among the more notable residents of the shire who were required in May 1434 to take the general oath not to maintain persons disturbing the peace.10 He appears to have died during the year ending November 1442, since he then disappears from the Staffordshire bench. He was certainly dead by the Trinity term of 1446, having reputedly been succeeded by his son and heir, Sir James.11
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Authors: C.R. / L. S. Woodger
It is often impossible to distinguish the subject of this biography from other contemporaries of the same name, most notably William Lee I*. For this reason only those references directly attributable to the MP have been used here.
- 1. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 233; n.s. xii. 114; Arch. Cant. xxxii. 55-70.
- 2. R.A. Griffiths, Principality of Wales, i. 138.
- 3. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xv. 24; CPR, 1413-16, p. 60.
- 4. CFR, xiii. 142; Sel. Cases King’s Bench (Selden Soc. lxxxviii), p. xvii; CCR, 1435-41, p. 101; Wm. Salt Arch Soc. xvii. 132; Griffiths, loc. cit.
- 5. Griffiths, loc. cit.; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 73, 76, 186-7; 1435-41, p. 186; CPR, 1429-36, p. 99.
- 6. CPR, 1416-22, p. 266; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 233; n.s. iii. 155; xii. 114; Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd ms, 1/468.
- 7. CCR, 1429-35, p. 187; 1435-41, p. 457; Arch. Cant. xxxii. 55-70.
- 8. CFR, xiv. 368, 440.
- 9. Ibid. xvi. 349; CCR, 1408-13, p. 411; 1429-35, pp. 4-5, 73, 76; CPR, 1413-16, p. 60; 1429-36, pp. 64, 99; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xv. 123-4; n.s. iii. 169-70; vii. 264; Huntington Lib. San Marino, Hastings ms, HAD 174/2832.
- 10. CCR, 1413-19, p. 520; CPR, 1429-36, p. 400; C219/12/5, 14/2, 15/2.
- 11. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 233; n.s. iii. 169-70; xii. 114.