1742 he commanded the Pembroke on the Mediterranean station, under Haddock and Mathews. In March 1746 he went out as commodore and commander-in-chief on the Leeward Islands station, with a broad pennant in the Suffolk. In this capacity he made himself very unpopular, not only among those under his command, but among the merchants and residents in the West Indies. Many complaints against him were sent home. He was accused of incivility, drunkenness, and neglect of duty, and on 4 Dec. 1746 Commodore Edward Legge [q. v.] was sent out to relieve him and try him by court-martial. Apparently the complaints could not be substantiated; for Lee was not tried, and on his arrival in England, in October 1747, his promotion to be rear-admiral, which had been suspended, was dated back to 15 July. On 12 May 1748 he was advanced to be vice-admiral of the white, but he had no further service, and died suddenly on 14 April 1750. 'Within a few hours of his death he had jocosely mentioned making his addresses to the relict of Sir Chaloner Ogle,' who died three days before him (Gent. Mag. xx. 188). He is described by Charnock as a 'free liver,' and was popularly spoken of as a man of debauched habits and foul tongue. It has been said, with some show of probability, that he was the original of Smollett's Commodore Trunnion. A portrait belongs to Viscount Billon.
[Charnock's Biog. Nav. iv. 195; commission warrant books in the Public Record Office; Correspondence of the Duke of Bedford, i. 270.]
LEE, FRANCIS, M.D. (1661–1719), miscellaneous writer, born at Cobham in Surrey on 12 March 1661, was the fourth son of Edward Lee of the family of the Lees, earls of Lichfield, by his wife Frances, a connection of the Percies. Both parents died in his childhood. He entered Merchant Taylors' School on 11 Sept. 1675, was admitted a scholar of St. John's College, Oxford, on St. Barnabas day, 1679, proceeded B.A. on 9 May 1688, M.A. 19 March 1686-7, and was elected to a fellowship at St. John's in January 1682 (Reg. of St. John's Coll.) In 1691 he became chaplain to Lord Stawell of Somerton in Somerset, and tutor to his son (Lee, Dissertations, pp. xiii-xv), and he was also tutor to Sir William Dawes, afterwards archbishop of York. At the revolution he refused the oaths, and probably on that account failed to proceed B.D. in 1692 as the statutes directed. Lee left England in the summer of 1691. He studied medicine, and on 11 June 1692 entered the university of Leyden, after which he practised medicine in Venice. On his way home in 1694 he made the acquaintance in Holland of the writings of Jane Lead [q. v.} the mystic. He sought Mrs. Lead out on his return to London, and became a devoted disciple. He arranged her manuscripts, published them with prefaces of his own, and supported her in her troubles. His elder brother, William, a dyer in Spitalfields, tried to break the connection, but about 1696 Lee, at Mrs. Lead's suggestion, married the latter's daughter, Barbara Walton, a widow, and afterwards resided in her house in 'Hogsden Square.' In 1697 he was a chief founder of the Philadelphian Society. He edited, and, in conjunction with Richard Roach, B.D., of St. John's College, wrote, the 'Theosophical Transactions' issued by the society between March and November 1697. The meetings of the society in Baldwin's Gardens became so crowded that they were removed to Hungerford Market and Westmoreland House (Rawlinson MS. D. 883, ff. 65-6, in Bodl. Libr.) Henry Dodwell the elder [q. v.] remonstrated with Lee upon his adherence to the society, and a controversy between them proceeded until 1701. Dodwell's arguments, coupled with those of Edward Stephens in 1702, probably led to the breaking up of the Philadelphian Society in 1703. Lee then turned his activity to more practical schemes. He is said to have been the first to suggest to Hoare and Robert Nelson [q. v.] the foundation of charity schools on a German plan. On 25 June 1708 he became a licentiate of the College of Physicians in London. On Easter day, 18 April 1718, he read a declaration of belief during service in the oratory, or private chapel, of his brother, William Lee, claiming the right of catholic communion (ib. J. 835). He died on 23 Aug. 1719 of fever at Gravelines in Flanders, whither he had gone on business, and owing to the exertions of the lady abbess (letter in Rawlinson MS.) was buried in the precincts of the abbey. His body was afterwards re-interred within the walls of the building, but a report that he had died in the catholic faith was confidently contradicted at the time (letter from the Hon. Archibald Campbell in ib.) Lee made no will; his estate was administered by William Lee in October 1719, in favour of his widow and his only daughter, Deborah Jemima, who afterwards became the wife of James de la Fontaine.
Lee was a man of great learning. His acquaintance with oriental literature gained for him popularly the name of 'Rabbi Lee.' In conjunction with Nelson he prepared the manuscripts of his friend J. E. Grabe [q. v.]