William Lee (English judge)

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Sir William Lee

Sir William Lee (2 August 1688 – 8 April 1754) was a British jurist and politician.


He was the second son of Sir Thomas Lee, 2nd Baronet. He matriculated at Wadham College, Oxford in 1704, shortly after entering the Middle Temple; he did not take a degree, but was called to the bar in 1710. Member of Parliament for Wycombe from 1727 until 1730, he gave up the seat when he became a Justice of the King's Bench.[1]

Lee was Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 8 June 1737 until his sudden death in 1754. He was appointed formally as Chancellor of the Exchequer as a temporary expedient on 8 March 1754, when Henry Pelham died, with his brother Sir George Lee as Under Treasurer of the Exchequer, until April 6, his own death.[1]

Lord Campbell noted that Lee "certainly stood up for the rights of woman more strenuously than any English judge before or since his time".


  • J. C. D. Clark, The Dynamics of Change: The Crisis of the 1750s and English Party Systems (Cambridge University Press, 2002).
  • Lord Campbell, The Lives of the Chief Justices of England: Volume III (Cockcroft and Co, 1878).


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lemmings, David. "Lee, Sir William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/16315.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
The Earl of Shelburne
Harry Waller
Member of Parliament for Wycombe
1727 – 1730
With: Harry Waller
Succeeded by
Harry Waller
Sir Charles Vernon
Legal offices
Preceded by
The Lord Hardwicke
Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench
Succeeded by
Sir Dudley Ryder
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Pelham
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
Henry Bilson Legge