Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lee, Edward

652604Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 32 — Lee, Edward1892William Hunt

LEE, EDWARD (1482?–1544), archbishop of York, son of Richard Lee, esq., of Lee Magna, Kent, who was the son of Sir Richard Lee, knt., lord mayor of London in 1461 and 1470, was born in Kent in or about 1482, and was elected fellow of St. Mary Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1500. Having graduated B.A., he was incorporated at Cambridge early in 1503, removing from Oxford, it is supposed, on account of some plague. At Cambridge he proceeded M.A. in 1504, being ordained deacon in that year, with title to the church of Wells, Norfolk. In 1512 he was collated to a prebend at Lincoln, and had his grace for degree of B.D., but was not admitted until 1515, in which year he was chosen proctor in convocation. He seems to have given some attention to biblical study, and in 1517 Erasmus wrote to him explaining that he had not been able to make use of certain annotations which Lee had written. In 1519 Lee was a prominent opponent of Erasmus. More, who said that he had loved Lee from boyhood, regretted the dispute. Erasmus declared that Lee was a young man desirous of fame, and that he spread about reports to his disadvantage. He asked Foxe (or Fox, Richard [q.v.] ) whether he could check him (Erasmi Epp. vi. 23); he further said that Lee circulated among religious houses an unfavourable criticism of his New Testament without having sent it to him, and he threatened Lee with punishment at the hands of German scholars. During 1520 the dispute was carried on with much bitterness on both sides. Erasmus said that Lee's chief supporter was Henry Standish, bishop of St. Asaph's. Lee put forth sundry attacks on Erasmus, who retaliated by the ‘Epistolæ aliquot Eruditorum Virorum,’ and sent an ‘Apologia’ to Henry VIII defending himself against Lee (ib. xii. 15, 20, xiv. 15, 16, xvii. 1). In 1523 the king sent Lee with Lord Morley and Sir William Hussey on an embassy to the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, to carry him the Garter, to commend his zeal against the Lutherans, and to excite him against the French king. Lee was the orator of the embassy. He was the king's almoner, and in the same year received the archdeaconry of Colchester. In 1525 he was sent with Sir Francis Pointz to Spain on an embassy to the emperor. During 1529 he was engaged in an embassy to the emperor in Spain, and in January 1530 was sent with the Earl of Wiltshire and John Stokesley, bishop-elect of London, to Clement VII and the emperor at Bologna, to endeavour to persuade them out of their opposition to the king's divorce. He returned to England in the spring. In 1529 he was made chancellor of the church of Salisbury, and in 1530 received a prebend at York, and a prebend of the royal chapel of St. Stephen's, Westminster, and was incorporated D.D. at Oxford, having received that degree at Bologna or elsewhere. Lee made himself useful to the king at home in the matter of the divorce, and on 1 June 1531 was one of a deputation which was sent to the queen to persuade her to forego her rights. He spoke with some freedom to the queen, who told him that what he said was untrue (Cal. State Papers, Hen. VIII, pt. v. No. 287). In September Henry wrote to the pope requesting authority for Lee's elevation to the archbishopric of York. On 13 Oct. Lee and others had an interview with Catharine, in which they urged her to withdraw her cause from Rome and submit to the decision of bishops and doctors (ib. No. 478). Clement granted a bull for Lee's elevation on the 30th; he was consecrated to the see of York on 10 Dec., and was enthroned by proxy on the 17th.

Lee's elevation involved him in much expense, and his affairs were rendered worse by the disgrace into which his predecessor, Wolsey, had fallen before his death. Writing from Cawood in December 1532, Lee thanks Cromwell for obtaining leave of absence for him from parliament on account of his expenses, adding that at Cawood he found no horse, nor stuff, nor provision (ib. 1670). His money difficulties made it specially advisable for him to please the king and Cromwell, and he did not neglect his opportunities of gratifying them in the matter of patronage (ib. vi. 1219, 1451). In common with Gardiner, however, he refused in February 1533 to sign the declaration that the marriage with Catharine had been void from the beginning (Friedmann, i. 189), but shortly afterwards procured from the convocation of York an approbation of the grounds of the divorce. On 29 June he received the king's appeal from the pope to the next general council (Fœdera, xiv. 478). The execution of Elizabeth Barton [q. v.] and her associates, in April 1534, occasioned many surmises, and it was rumoured that York, Durham, and Winchester were to be sent to the Tower (Cal. State Papers, vii. 522). This was mere idle talk. In company with Bishop Stokesley, Lee visited Houghton, the prior of the London Charterhouse, in the Tower, and represented to him that the succession was not a matter to die for, and he used a like expression with reference to the cause in which Bishop Fisher suffered (Gasquet, i. 209; Strype, Memorials, i. 294). On 21 May he and the Bishop of Durham were sent to Catharine at Kimbolton to expound to her the act of succession, and urge her to submission (Cal. State Papers, vii. 695, 1209). He forwarded to the king on 1 June the declaration of the York convocation held the previous month, that the pope had no greater jurisdiction within the realm of England than any other foreign bishop, and on 17 Feb. 1535 wrote to the king professing his willingness to obey his will. Nevertheless, he was suspected of disliking the royal supremacy. The king sent to him, as to other bishops, his commands that his new style should be published in his cathedral, and that the clergy should be instructed to set it forth in their parishes; and he also received Cranmer's order for preaching, and form for bidding the beads, in which the king's style was inserted, with the king's order that every preacher should declare the just cause for rejecting the papal supremacy, and defend the divorce and marriage with Anne Boleyn. Henry was informed that Lee had neglected these orders, and wrote to him reminding him that he had subscribed to the supremacy. Lee answered on 14 June that he had, according to order, preached solemnly in his cathedral on the injury done to the king by the pope and on the divorce, taking as his text, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come,’ but he acknowledged that he had made no mention of the royal supremacy. He besought the king not to suspect him, or listen to the accusations of his enemies (ib. viii. 869). Moreover, on 1 July he wrote to Cromwell, sending him two books which he had prepared, one for his clergy to read and ‘extend’ to their congregations, the other a brief declaration to the people of the royal supremacy, adding that the livings in his diocese were so poor that no learned man would take them, that he did not know in it more than twelve secular priests who could preach, and that therefore he feared that the king's orders concerning preaching would not be carried out satisfactorily, but that he would do his best (ib. p. 963; Memorials, i. 287–92). New cause of suspicion arose against him, and a few months later he was strictly examined by the king's visitor, Richard Layton [q. v.], concerning certain words he was alleged to have used to the general confessor of Sion, and concerning the supremacy. He wrote his defence to the king on 14 Jan. 1536. On 23 April he interceded with Cromwell for two religious houses in his province—Hexham, which, besides being the burying-place of many eminent persons, was useful as a place of refuge during Scottish invasions, and St. Oswald's at Nostell, Yorkshire, which he claimed as a free chapel belonging to his see. In June he argued against the condemnation of catholic customs in convocation, and was regarded as the head of the anti-reformation party.

When the northern insurrection broke out, Lee took refuge on 13 Oct. with Lord Darcy, who held Pomfret. On the 20th Pomfret was surrendered to the rebels, and the archbishop was compelled to take the oath of the ‘Pilgrimage of Grace.’ It was believed that he was at first in favour of the movement, but he changed his opinion; for when on 27 Nov. he and the clergy met in the church to consider certain articles proposed to them, he preached to the contrary effect. The clergy, however, would not be led by him, and he was roughly dragged from the pulpit. He seems to have for some time been out of the king's favour, but Cromwell stood his friend, and in July 1537 Lee wrote to him thanking him for giving Henry a good report of his sermons. In his diocesan duties he was assisted by a suffragan bishop. He was strict in requiring proof of orders from all who officiated in his diocese, and this bore hardly on the disbanded friars (Gasquet, ii. 276). His strictness in this matter was probably connected with his dislike of ‘novelties,’ as well as his fear of offending the king (Memorials, i. 469). He served on the commission that drew up the ‘Institution of a Christian Man.’ In May 1539 he argued in parliament in defence of the ‘Six Articles,’ and in conjunction with others drew up the bill founded upon them. He was on the commission appointed in the spring of 1540 to examine the doctrines and ceremonies retained in the church, and on that which had to determine on the invalidity of the king's marriage with Anne of Cleves. In 1541 new statutes for the government of the church of York were issued under the great seal. Lee surrendered to the crown in 1542 the manors of Beverley and Southwell and other estates, receiving in exchange lands belonging to certain suppressed priories. The exchange was not particularly disadvantageous to the see. He died on 13 Sept. 1544, at the age of sixty-two, and was buried in his cathedral church. Fuller accuses him of cruelty on account of the martyrdom of Valentine Frees and his wife. He is said to have been a holy man, frugal by disposition, and learned in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and theology. While anxious to avoid displeasing the king, he was known to be opposed to the party of the ‘new learning,’ and to be inclined to the Roman obedience and usages. He wrote: ‘Commentarium in universum Pentateuchum,’ not printed, comp. ‘Aschami Epp.’ ii. 89; ‘Apologia contra quorundam Calumnias;’ ‘Index annotationum prioris libri;’ ‘Epistola nuncupatoria ad D. Erasmum;’ ‘Annotationum libri duo;’ ‘Epistola apologetica, qua respondit D. Erasmi Epistolis;’ these six, printed at Paris in or about 1520, are concerned with the controversy with Erasmus, and are in the British Museum, in 1 vol. 4to; ‘Exhibita quædam per E. Leum, oratorem Anglicum in concilio Cæsareo,’ &c. 1828, 8vo; ‘A Treatise concerning the Dispensing Power,’ Harl. MS. 417, f. 11; translations of the lives of divers saints, Harl. MS. 423, ff. 9–55. His opinions on the sacraments are printed in Burnet's ‘History of the Reformation,’ and several letters from him are to be found printed by Ellis (‘Original Letters,’ 3rd ser.), Burnet, and in parts by Strype, and in manuscript in the Harleian and Cotton. MSS., and in the Record Office. Two verses to his honour were in 1566 placed by Dr. Laurence Humphrey, president of St. Mary Magdalen College, Oxford, in the window of the founder's chamber in that college. Lee was the last archbishop of York that coined money.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. i. 138, ed. Bliss; Bloxam's Reg. of St. Mary Magdalen College, i. 35; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 85; Drake's Eboracum, pp. 451, 452; Gent. Mag. 1863, ii. 337; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 227, ed. Hardy; Cal. State Papers, Henry VIII, vols. iv–xii. pt. ii. passim; Rymer's Fœdera, xiv. 354, 401, ed. Sanderson; Strype's Memorials, i. 64, 65, 289, 292, 331, 469, and Cranmer, pp. 104, 110, 743, 8vo edit.; Burnet's Reformation, bk. iii. pp. 161, 188, 193, pt. iii. (Records) pp. 52, 77, 95, 135, 168, fol. edit.; Fuller's Worthies, ii. 499, 539; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 473; Erasmi Epistolæ, passim, u.s.; Biog. Brit. i. 285, ed. Kippis; Friedmann's Anne Boleyn, i. 105, 144, 150, 189; Gasquet's Henry VIII and Engl. Monasteries, i. 209, ii. 109, 117, 124; Collier's Eccl. Hist. iv. 341, 379, ix. 105; Ornsby's York, pp. 248, 249, 285, 288, 290 (Dioc. Hist. Ser.)]

W. H.