Frances Lee

1758 - 1839

Claimant or beneficiary


Awarded part of the compensation for a total of 189 enslaved people on Wheelerfield in St Thomas-in-the-East in Jamaica, which she had inherited from Mary Powell Royall (nee Morant). Spinster, daughter of Robert Cooper Lee and sister of Richard Lee (q.v.).   

  1. Frances's paternal grandfather was Joseph Lee (c. 1692-1750/1), a London-based Turkey merchant who sent his eldest son John to Jamaica in 1746 to work for Dr Rose Fuller. His second son, Robert, followed in 1749 and became a successful attorney. The youngest son, Joseph, joined the brothers in 1753. John died in Jamaica in 1761 and by the 1760s, Robert and Joseph were living with free women of colour, Robert with Priscilla Kelly and Joseph with Sarah Lewis. Frances Lee was Robert and Priscilla's eldest child, born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, in October 1758.

  2. The letters of the Lee family, written between 1746 and 1799, contain several references to Frances as a child and many of her later letters still survive. By the time her uncle Joseph Lee returned to England in 1768, Frances had been sent to school in England and attended Russell House School in Streatham. Joseph reported in September 1768 that Frances "is extremely well and I really think her the Flower of the School". He arranged for her to have her portrait painted by Francis Cotes (1726-1770) in 1769. Her parents left Jamaica in 1771, married in London 01/10/1771 and settled at 23 Berners Street. Frances received £100 in the will of her uncle Joseph in 1772 and, along with her 5 siblings, was a residuary legatee of her father in 1794 (her father's total estate was worth over £30,000). In 1802 Frances moved to 53 Devonshire Street, London, with her former nurse Betty Harrison. She inherited property in Williamsfield, Jamaica, from her close friend Mary Powell Morant in 1816. "Frances never married, a letter with her Will requested [her sister] Favell to destroy 'a most precious packet', which hints at unrequited love. She settled comfortably into the role of aunt, intermittantly laid low by her illness and treating her pain with Kendal Black Drop [a mixture of opium, vinegar, sugar and spices]."

  3. The will of Frances Lee of Marylebone was proved 21/12/1839. Frances Lee aged 81 of Devonshire Street was buried at St Mary Barnes 14/12/1839. Her will refers to her father Robert Cooper Lee and makes her brother Richard Lee the heir both of her interest in Wheelerfield and in Rose Hall in St Thomas-in-the-Vale.

  4. Mary Powell Morant, the daughter of Ann Morant (nee Anderson) who had married (1) Stephen Morant (2) Samuel Wheeler (d. 1755) and (3) Marchant Tubb, and who had herself married Joseph Royall, left the share of Wheelerfield she had inherited to 'her very close friend' Frances Lee under her will of 1816. The will of Mary Powell Royall formerly Mary Powell Morant wife of Nottingham Place was proved 24/12/1816. The will identifies Frances Lee of Devonshire Street as the sister of Richard Lee (q.v.).


T71/867 St Thomas-in-the-East nos. 132, 133 and 134.

  1. Anne M. Powers, A Parcel of Ribbons - The Lee Family Letters (Privately printed, 2012) pp. 5, 10, 69.

  2. Ibid. pp. 111, 116, 118, 123, 127, 141, 176, 304.

  3. PROB 11/1920;, London, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1980 [database online].

  4. accessed 13/8/2012; PROB 11/1587. The will has been transcribed by Anne Powers August 2011.

Further Information

Russell House School, Streatham

Associated Claims (3)

£359 9s 5d
£518 4s 2d
£2,661 4s 4d

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1829 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Joint owner

Legacies Summary

Cultural (1)

Portrait of Frances Lee by Francis Cotes, 1769. Now in the Milwaukee Art... 
notes →

Relationships (3)

Sister → Brother
Daughter → Father
Legatee → Testator

Addresses (1)

Devonshire Street, London, Middlesex, London, England