First Families of Virginia – The Lees

The Lee family impact upon Virginia’s history is undeniable. Richard I, “The Immigrant” had a seemingly boundless energy attached to a shrewd business sense. He used that combination to establish the Lee Dynasty from which foundational descendants sprang. He and his wife Anne (aka Anna) Constable Lee bore 10 children, of whom 9 survived infancy. Those 9 children, perhaps not as boundless as their patriarch, ensured Richard’s legacy within the Commonwealth lived beyond one generation.

Richard purchased vast lands, and left them to his children to build upon. They built enduring monuments to the Lee name such as Statford Hall, created tight bonds with other leading families of the day, and shaped Virginia’s future, while also taking part in America’s founding. But the Lee name didn’t stop there.

When Virginia’s First Family dominance seemed lost a Lee stepped forward in the twilight to give one last performance. In the end, the sun set on the Lee family as well as the First Families of Virginia, which in profound manner also influenced Virginia’s future. No longer a leader, Virginia became simply another contributing member of the United States, and the Lees, ever faithful continued to play their part.

Today debates abound, but what is not debatable is the Lee impact as trailblazers, innovators, country-builders, heroes, and sometime villains. Without them Virginia and the United States’ story, both good and bad, would not be the same, and their story begins with that brilliant family founder in 1639.

Tune in to this episode where we introduce this important family’s founding, while highlighting just a few of the Lee’s who impacted history.



  1. Billings, Warren M.; Selby, John E.; and Tate, Thad W. Colonial Virginia: A History. White Plains, NY: KTO Press. 1986.
  2. Billings, Warren M. Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia. Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press, 2004.
  3. Billings, Warren. A Little Parliament: The Virginia General Assembly in the Seventeenth Century. Richmond, VA: Library of Virginia, 2004.
  4. Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.
  5. Evans, Emory G. A “Topping People”: The Rise and Decline of Virginia’s Old Political Elite, 1680-1790. Charlottesville, VA: UVA Press, 2009.
  6. Fischer, David Hackett. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: a cultural history). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  7. Freeman, Douglas Southall. George Washington: A Biography. New York: Charles Scribners, 1957. (Specifically Volume 1).
  8. Freeman, Douglas Southall. R. E. Lee: A Biography. Charles Scribners: New York, 1936.
  9. Hendrick, Burton J. The Lees of Virginia: Biography of a Family. New York: Little Brown and Co, 1935.
  10. Horn, James. Adapting to A New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
  11. Lee, Edmund Jennings. Lee of Virginia, 1642-1892: Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of the Descendants of Colonel Richard Lee. Heritage Books, 2008
  12. Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
  13. McCartney, Martha W. Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers: A Biographical Dictionary, 1607-1635. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007.
  14. Nagel, Paul C. The Lees of Virginia: Seven Generations of an American Family. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  15. Neill, Edward D. Virginia Carolorum: The Colony under the Rule of Charles The First and Second, A.D. 1625-A.D. 1685. Albany, NY: Joel Munsell’s and Sons, 1886.
  16. Pecquet du Bellet, Louise. Some Prominent Virginia Families, vol. 4. Lynchburg, VA:  J.P. Bell Company, 1907.
  17. Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
  18. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.
  19. Walsh, Lorena S. Motives of Honor, Pleasure, and Profit: Plantation Management in the Colonial Chesapeake, 1607-1763. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  20. Washburn, Wilcomb E. Virginia Under Charles I and Cromwell 1625-1660. Kindle Edition.
  21. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia Under the Stuarts: 1607-1688. New York: Russell and Russell, 1959.
  22. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. The Planters of Colonial Virginia. Kindle Edition.
  23. Wright, Louis B. First Gentlemen of Virginia. Charlottesville, VA: Dominion Books, 1982.





All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is of the Lee Family Crest.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Haven” by We Banjo 3, also available on iTunes.

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