Lord Lee of Fareham

The Right Honourable
The Viscount Lee of Fareham
Lord Lee of Fareham, 1903.
Personal details
Born Arthur Hamilton Lee
(1868-11-08)8 November 1868
Bridport, Dorset, England
Died 21 July 1947(1947-07-21) (aged 78)
Avening, Gloucestershire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservatives
Occupation Politician, statesman and public servant, soldier, philanthropist and patron of the arts.

Arthur Hamilton Lee, 1st Viscount Lee of Fareham, GCB, GCSI, GBE, PC (8 November 1868 – 21 July 1947) was a British soldier, diplomat, politician and patron of the arts. After military postings and an assignment to the British Embassy in Washington, he entered politics and served as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and First Lord of the Admiralty following the First World War. He donated his country house, Chequers, to the nation as a retreat for the Prime Minister and founded the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Early life and military career

Arthur Hamilton Lee was born at The Rectory, Bridport, Dorset, in 1868. His father was rector of St. Mary's Church. He was a grandson of Sir John Theophilus Lee, G.C.H., R.N., who as a midshipman was present at the Battle of the Nile. [1] After attending Cheltenham College, Lee entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, before being commissioned into the Royal Artillery as a second lieutenant on 17 February 1888.[2] He was promoted lieutenant on 18 February 1891.[3]

He was posted to the Far East China as Adjutant of the Hong Kong Volunteer 1881-1891. He returned to England in 1891, and was stationed on the Isle of Wight for the next two years. On 18 August 1893, at the age of twenty three, Lee became a professor of Strategy and Tactics, at the Royal Military College of Canada,[4] with the local rank of captain.[5] Since only 11 to 30 cadets entered the College in those days, Lee would have come up against only 140 cadets in his five years at the College (1893-1868)cadet numbers 320 to 4575. No. 433, Major General T. V. Anderson, D.S.O., recalls that Lee was known around the Royal Military College as 'The Nipper, which the cadets christened him because he used to sing Grossmith's songs with gusto. He enjoyed riding and walking across the ice to Wolfe Island, and to town. He was a regular attendant at St. George's Cathedral (Kingston, Ontario) to hear Dean Buxton Smith. When Colonel Gerald Kitson, K.R.R.C., became Commandant in 1897, Captain Lee came to live with the Kitsons in the Commandant's residence. in 1894, Lee initiated a Military Survey of the Canadian Frontier and supervised its progress until its completion in 1896. During the summer of 1897 he was a Special Correspondent for the London Daily Chronicle, covering the earlier stages of the Klondike Gold Rush based on his travels to Alaska and the Yukon. In 1900 when Lee resigned as British Military Attaché in Washington, Colonel Kitson resigned as Commandant of RMC to take over the Washington post vacated by Lee. [6]

He did not receive substantive promotion until the completion of his RMC appointment in 18 April 1898.[7] He became the British military attaché with the United States Army in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898. He received the U.S. campaign medal, he was made an honorary member of the lst U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, the famous Roosevelt's "Rough Rider" and met Theodore Roosevelt. On 28 January 1899 Lee, who was still not thirty years old, was appointed military attaché at the British Embassy in Washington, with the temporary rank of Lieutenant Colonel (for the duration of his appointment).[8] Although he would have preferred to have been on active service in South Africa, since the Boer War which had just started, Lee enjoyed the challenging diplomatic assignment. [9]

On 23 December 1899, Lee married Ruth Moore (died 1966), daughter of New York banker John Godfrey Moore. He had first met Ruth Moore at parties in Kingston and Gananoque and had taken her to balls at the Royal Military College, Kingston. Ruth was left a substantial inheritance after her father's death shortly before the wedding. He was promoted brevet major on 8 August 1900, and returned to regimental duty on 22 August 1900,[10] and retired from the army on 12 December 1900.[11]


In 1900, Lee returned to England. Lee then embarked on a political career, he was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Fareham in the 1900 general election while still a regular officer.[12] He represented the Fareham Division of Hampshire for the next eighteen years until his elevation to the peerage. [13] He served as Civil Lord of the Admiralty from 1903 to 1905 under Lord Selborne. [14] He also continued military service during this period as a member of the Volunteer Force.[15]

The resignation of Balfour as Prime Minister in favour of Liberal Leader, Campbell Bannerman, in 1905 and the defeat of the Conservative Party in the elections of 1906 and 1910 postponed further office for a decade. He was Chairman of the Parliamentary Aerial Defence Committee, from 1910 to 1914. In 1912 he introduced the White Slave Traffic Act. [16]

At the beginning of World War I, Lee served as Lord Kitchener's personal commissioner to report on the Army Medical Services in France, with the rank of temporary colonel.[17] From October 1915 he served David Lloyd George at the Ministry of Munitions, and followed him to the War Office in 1916.[18] He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 12 July.[19] On 8 June 1917, with Lloyd George now Prime Minister, Lee became Director-General of Food Production under Rowland Prothero as President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, having now left the arrmy he was permitted to retain the honorary rank of colonel.[20] He was recognised for his work on 1 January 1918, being appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire.[21] He was elevated to the peerage on 9 July that year as Baron Lee of Fareham, of Chequers in the County of Buckingham,[22] shortly before he resigned as Director-General of Food Production after disagreements with Prothero.

Lee joined the Cabinet and the Privy Council in August 1919 when he was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, succeeding Prothero. He became First Lord of the Admiralty on 18 February 1921,[23] and was selected as a second British delegate to attend the Washington Naval Conference with Arthur Balfour later that year. He resigned with Lloyd George's government in 1922 and he was promoted to Viscount Lee of Fareham, of Bridport in the County of Dorset, on 9 December that year.[24] He went on to chair Royal Commissions on the civil service in India (1923–1924),[25] London cross river traffic (1926),[26] and police powers and procedure (1928).[27] He was also chair of the radium commission and of the committee on police pay and pensions (1925). He was appointed Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India on 1 January 1925,[28] and he was promoted Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1929 King's Birthday Honours.[29] He was also appointed Knight of Grace in the Venerable Order of Saint John on 20 June 1930.[30]


Lee and his wife took on a long lease of Chequers, a country house and 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) estate in Buckinghamshire, in 1909. The Lees bought the property in 1912 after the owner died and began restoration. In 1917, they gave the estate, and the entire contents of the house which included a library, historical papers and manuscripts and a collection of Cromwellian portraits and artefacts, in trust to the nation to be used as official residence and retreat of British Prime Ministers, enabled by the Chequers Estate Act 1917. The Lees left the property in January 1921 and Lloyd George was the first Prime Minister to use the property.[31][32][33]

Patron of the arts and later life

After furnishing Chequers, Lee began a second collection. He gained the financial backing of Samuel Courtauld and Joseph Duveen, and established the Courtauld Institute of Art with the University of London. The Institute, the first to offer degrees in the history of art in Britain, opened in 1932 with William George Constable as its director at Lee's request. Also with Courtauld, he persuaded the University of London to accept the transfer of the Warburg Institute from Hamburg; it was loaned to him prior to its re-establishment in 1944. He also donated a silver collection and other objects to the Hart House in Canada in 1940.

Additionally, in the 1920s Lee was a trustee of the Wallace Collection and of the National Gallery. He served as chairman of the latter in 1931–2, and was a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission from 26 May 1926 until his death.[34]

Lee died at Old Quarries, a grade II listed building in Avening, Gloucestershire, in 1947. Lee had no children and his viscountcy became extinct upon his death.

His widow, Lady Lee presented to the Royal Military College of Canada Museum a silver-headed walking stick of her late-husband: which he used daily at RMC nearly seventy years before. The stick has two silver bands listing the places where Lee served -or visited from 1888 to 1904, which, includes Royal Military College of Canada. Lady Lee also presented the RMC Museum three photographs of Lord Lee - two of them taken in Kingston, one in uniform in 1893, and the other in 1896 wearing a checked suit, silver-topped stick in hand. The third is a photograph of the portrait by Herbert James Gunn in full regalia of a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath. [35]



External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Fitzwygram
Member of Parliament for Fareham
Succeeded by
Sir John Humphrey Davidson
Political offices
Preceded by
Rowland Edmund Prothero
as President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries
Minster of Agriculture and Fisheries
Succeeded by
Arthur Griffith-Boscawen
Preceded by
Walter Long
First Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
Leopold Stennett Amery
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Lee of Fareham
New creation Baron Lee of Fareham
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.