Facts and Events
Col. Richard Henry Lee II, Esq. (1647–1715) was a Colonel, planter, member of the Upper House and the King's Council.
Richard was born at "Paradise", in Northumberland County, Virginia, the estate he inherited from his father when he died in 1664. This estate consisted of , and was later part of Gloucester County. He was educated at Oxford in England and may have studied law at the London Inns of Court. He seemed destined for a career in the church, but he elected rather to return to the life of a Virginia gentleman, residing at “Paradise”. In 1673, when his older brother John died unmarried, Richard inherited the estate, “Machodoc”. Richard left “Paradise” to overseers and removed to his new estate.
Soon after his marriage, Richard was elected to the House of Burgesses. In 1676 Richard became a member of the King’s Council and he served in this capacity off and on until 1698. On one such absence in 1690 he had lost his seat because of his refusal to take the oath of allegiance to William III, King of England (“William of Orange”) (1650–1702). However, he was reinstated within a year. Richard was forced to retire from this position because of ill health. The Council was a body that served as the Governor’s privy council, the Upper House of the Colonial Legislature, and the Colonial Supreme Court. As early as 1680 he was Colonel of Horse in the counties of Westmoreland, Northumberland and Stafford. He was appointed by Sir Gov. Edmund Andros (1637–1714) to be “Naval Officer and Receiver of Virginia Dutys for the River Potomac”. Richard II, had one of the largest libraries in the Colony. He spent almost his whole life in study, and usually wrote his notes in Greek, Hebrew, or Latin. It was because of this that he was termed “the scholar”. Richard was a supporter of the Established Church.
Richard died March 12, 1714 at “Machodoc”, Westmoreland County. His will was probated on April 27, 1715. He was buried at the old “Burnt House Fields”, located near “Mount Pleasant”. Laetitia died on October 6, 1706 at “Machodoc”, and her tombstone can still be seen at “Mount Pleasant”.
Richard established his residence at the “Machodoc” plantation, which was located on the Potomac River, near the town of Hague, in Westmoreland County. This was a large brick house, largely inclosed by a brick wall. The estate was inherited by his son Hon. Richard Lee III (1679–1718) who was at the time residing in London as a tobacco merchant with his family. Richard III leased his estate in Virginia to his brothers, Col. Thomas Lee, Hon. (1690–1750) and Capt. Henry Lee I (1691–1747), for “an annual rent of one peppercorn only, payable on Christmas Day”. After Richard’s death in 1718, the estate was sold by his wife Martha Silk (d.ca. 1734), who sold it to her brother-in-law, Col. Thomas Lee, Hon. (1690–1750). Thomas resided here until it burned down January 29, 1729, and removed to his newly built “Stratford Hall”. The fire was so serious that the field near the old mansion at “Machodoc” where the Lee burial ground became was forever named the old “Burnt House Fields”. The land was sold to Richard Lee III’s only son Col. George Lee (1714-1761), who had come over from England. A new plantation was built by George who called his new estate “Mount Pleasant”. The new house was built further back from the river and upon higher ground. This house also burned down.