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.