Lee, Frederick George (DNB12)
LEE, FREDERICK GEORGE (1832–1902), theological writer, born at Thame, Oxfordshire, on 6 Jan. 1832, was eldest son of Frederick Lee of Thame, sometime rector of Easington, Oxfordshire, and vicar of Stantonbury, Berkshire, by his wife Mary, only daughter and sole heir of George Ellys of Aylesbury. Educated at Thame grammar school, he matriculated at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, on 23 Oct. 1851, but did not graduate (Foster's Alumni Oxonienses, p. 830). Whilst an undergraduate he won the Newdigate prize in 1854, for an English poem on 'The Martyrs of Vienne and Lyons,' which passed through five editions. He was admitted S.C.L. (student of civil law) the same year, and, after spending some time at Cuddesdon Theological College, was ordained deacon by the bishop of Oxford in 1854 on a title to Sunningwell, Berkshire, and priest in 1856. He then became assistant-minister of Berkeley Chapel in London, and in 1858-9, at the time of the ritualist riots at St. George's in the East, he showed his sympathy with Charles Fuge Lowder [q. v.], Alexander Heriot Mackonochie [q. v.], and the other clergy there by preaching and taking part in the services of that church. Lee next became incumbent of St. John's, Aberdeen, but introduced non-communicating attendance, then almost unknown in the Anglican church, which caused a schism in the congregation, and his adherents built St. Mary's church for him; this however soon came to an end, as the bishop of Aberdeen refused to consecrate it, or in any way sanction it. Returning to London, he was in 1867 appointed vicar of All Saints', Lambeth. An eloquent preacher, with a musical and melodious voice, he ministered zealously to this poor parish for thirty-two years.
From the time of his taking holy orders, Lee's views were of the most advanced high church type. In conjunction with Mr. Ambrose Lisle March Phillipps de Lisle [q. v.], a prominent Roman catholic, he founded in 1857 the Association for Promoting the Union of Christendom, a society whose object was to reunite the churches of Rome and England with that of Russia. From 1863 to 1869, when the association was dissolved, Lee edited 'The Union Review.' In 1868, when de Lisle was high sheriff of Leicestershire, he appointed Lee his chaplain, but Canon David James Vaughan [q. v. Suppl. II], then vicar of St. Martin's, Leicester, refused to allow him to preach the assize sermon before the judges. In 1870 Lee issued 'The Validity of the Holy Orders of the Church of England maintained and vindicated,' perhaps the host hook written on this subject. Lee's investigations ultimately led him to doubt the validity of Anglican orders, and in conjunction with some other clergymen who shared his distrust of the validity of their ordination he founded the Order of Corporate Reunion. The object of the society was to restore to the Church of England valid orders which were supposed to have been lost at the Reformation. Accordingly Lee was consecrated a bishop by some catholic prelates, whose names were kept — even from members of the Order — a profound secret, at or near Venice in the summer of 1877; he took the title of 'Bishop of Dorchester.' On his return to England he consecrated two other Anglicans in the little chapel at All Saints' vicarage, Lambeth, as bishops — the Rev. Thomas Wimberley Mossman, rector of East and West Torrington, Lincolnshire, as 'Bishop of Selby,' and Dr. J. T. Seccombe, an Anglican layman, as 'Bishop of Coerleon.' In this chapel, too, Lee and his coadjutors re-ordained some few clergy who felt doubtful about their orders, and administered confirmation to laity who felt the like scruples. The 'Reunion Magazine' (1877-9) was founded by Lee, in order to spread the tenets of the order. Every one connected with the Order of Corporate Reunion was bound to secrecy, and some six or seven years before his death Lee destroyed every paper relating to it.
In 1879 Lee was created honorary D.D. of the Washington and Lee University, Virginia. He was elected F.S.A. on 30 April 1857, but resigned in 1892.
Lee was throughout life a voluminous writer of history, archaeology, theology, and poetry, besides being actively engaged in journalism. At one time Lee edited the 'Church News' and 'Church Herald,' both newspapers of the tory and high church school, and the ' Penny Post,' and he was for many years a leader writer for 'John Bull,' a weekly paper of moderate high church tendencies. He also founded and edited the shortlived periodicals 'The Pilot,' 'The Anchor,' and 'Lambeth Review.' His best antiquarian work is his 'History and Antiquities of the Prebendal Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Thame' (1886). As an historian Lee was a thorough-going and blind partisan, and his historical works are untrustworthy. The best known of these are 'Historical Sketches of the Reformation' (1879), 'Edward the Sixth, Supreme Head (1886; 2nd edit. 1889). 'Cardinal Reginald Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury' (1888), and 'The Church under Queen Elizabeth' (3rd edit. 1897), where he impugns the validity of Anglican orders.
His poetical works, besides the Newdigate prize poem, include 'Poems' (1866), 'The King's Highway and other Poems' (1872), 'The Bells of Botteville Tower' (1874), and 'Petronilla and other Poems' (1889). Most of these reached more than one edition. His 'Directorium Anglicanum,' a manual for the right celebration of Holy Communion, passed into a fourth edition in 1878, and was much used by the Anglican clergy. He also brought out an 'Altar Service Book of the Church of England' (1867, 3 vols. 4to).
In 1881, in a novel, 'Reginald Barentyne, or Liberty without Limit : a Tale of the Times,' Lee caricatured a ritualistic priest, and gave offence to high church Anglicans. His position during his closing years grew ambiguous. He retired from All Saints', Lambeth, on 1 Nov. 1899, when the church was acquired by the South Western Railway Company and demolished. On 11 Dec. 1901 he was received into the Roman cathohc church, at his own request, by his old friend Father Best of the Oratory. After a short illness he died at his residence in Earl's Court Gardens on 22 Jan. 1902; his body was interred at Brookwood cemetery in the same grave with his wife. Lee had married, on 9 June 1859, Elvira Louisa, daughter of Joseph Duncan Ostrehan, vicar of Creech St. Michael, Somerset, by whom he had three sons and one daughter. His wife predeceased him in 1890, having previously joined the Roman catholic church. His second son, Gordon Ambrose de Lisle Lee, fills the post of York herald.Other works include: 1. 'The Words from the Cross,' 1861; 3rd edit. 1880. 2. 'Parochial and Occasional Sermons,' 1873. 3. 'The Christian Doctrine of Prayer for the Departed,' 1875. 4. 'Memorials of the Rev. R. S. Hawker,' 1876. 5. 'Glossary of Liturgical and Ecclesiastical Terms,' 1877. 6. 'Glimpses of the Supernatural,' 2 vols. 1877. 7. 'More Glimpses of the World Unseen,' 1880. 8. ' The Sinless Conception of the Mother of God,' 1881. 9. 'Order out of Chaos.' 1881. 10. 'Glimpses of the Twilight,' 1885. 11. 'A Manual of Politics,' 1889. 12. 'Lights and Shadows, being Examples of the Supernatural,' 1894.
[The Times, 25 Jan. 1902; The Tablet, 1, 8, and 22 Feb. 1902; Men and Women of the Time, 1899; Alumni Oxonienses; Pedigree of Lee in his History and Antiquities of Thame Church, pp. 635-42; Brit. Mus. Cat., where the list of his publications fills twenty-one pages; private information.]