Rev. Sir Harcourt Lees (1776 - 1852)

Born: November 29, 17761
Died: March 7, 18521
Married: Sophia Lyster (daughter of Colonel Thomas Lyster) October 18121
Father: Sir John Lees (c1737 - 1811)
Mother: Mary Cathcart
Siblings:
      Charlotte Lees
      John Cathcart Lees (1777 - 1858)
      Townshend Lees (b. 1779)
      Sir Edward Smith Lees (1783 - 1846)
      William Eden Lees (1784 - 1856)
      Thomas Orde Lees (b. 1788)
Children:
      George Cholmondeley Lees (d. March 15 1896)
      Mary Lees (d. August 7 1895)
      Julia Lees
      Sophia Lees
      Helen Lees
      Sir John Lees (3rd Baronet) (1816 - 1892)
      Major Thomas Ellis Bridgeman Lees (1818 - 1865)
      Major-General William Nassau Lees (1826 - 1889)
Synopsis:
Rev. Sir Harcourt Lees (1776 - 1852) was the 2nd Baronet (Blackrock) and rector of Killany, County Monaghan, Ireland1.
Rev. Sir Harcourt Lees
Rev. Sir Harcourt Lees (1776 - 1852)
Harcourt Lees became the 2nd Bartonet of Blackrock on the death of his father Sir John Lees (c1737 - 1811). Sir Harcourt took Holy Orders and was rector at Killanny (Louth/Monaghan border) He was collated to the prebend of Fenor in the church of Cashel on November 21, 1800, and to that of Tullcorbet in the church of Clogher in 1801. He resigned both stalls in 1806. Sir Harcourt married Sophia, daughter of the late Colonel Lyster, of Grange, County Roscommon. Sir Harcourt was a political pamphleteer and published several pamphlets, chiefly in support of protestant ascendancy. He died at Blackrock, County Dublin, on March 7, 18521.

Seeking Compensation

In 1835 the Rev. Sir Harcourt Lees sought the compensation for the estate of Heldens on St Kitts on behalf of his younger brother William Eden Lees (1784 - 1856) and his wife Sophia Cornelia Helden (d. 1869). The claim is listed in the University College London archives, claim number 740, for the Heldens Estate on the colony of St. Kitts. There were two other claimants: John Browne and James Berridge (probably the Hon. James Samuel Berridge a member of St. Kitts Council). A letter, dated November 15, 1834, from John Browne, of 47 Eccles St, Dublin, stated "I have the first claim on Martha Helden Estate for 126 slaves, my demand being about GBP4000". The award was split: GBP1340 16s 1d went to Browne; GBP726 8s 4d went to Berridge. Sir Harcourt Lees is listed as an unsuccessful claimant2 read more.

Pamphlets

Rev. Sir Harcourt Lees is best known for his strongly-worded pamphlets attacking Roman Catholicism. They are distinguished by extreme animation of style. Their titles include:
*An Address to the King's Friends throughout the British Empire on the present Awful and Critical State of Great Britain (1821)
*A Cursory View of the Present State of Ireland (1821)
*Nineteen Pages of Advice to the Protestant Freemen and Freeholders of the City of Dublin (1821)
*Theological Extracts selected from a late Letter written by a Popish Prelate to his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, with Observations on the same, and a well-merited and equally well-applied literary flagellation of the titular shoulders of this mild and humble Minister of the Gospel; with a complete exposure of his friend the Pope and the entire body of holy impostors.

"Sir H. Lees has the distinguished honor, of having roused the loyalty of this Island, and drawn the attention of both Islands to the gross impostures practised by the Jacobinal Radicals. The interest excited by his numerous writings throughout Gt. Britain and Ireland is unparallel'd."3

John Cathcart Lees (1777 - 1858), younger brother of Harcourt Lees, converted to Roman Catholicism4, whether due to deep religious conviction or to annoy his elder brother, we can only speculate. Alice Lees the granddaughter of Harcourt Lees also converted to Roman Catholicism having first spent time as an anglican sister at Clewer Convent, Windsor4.

The Trial of Sir Harcourt Lees

There is a fictitious account of a court appearance in January 1823, in which the Rev. Sir Harcourt Lees was accused of Barretry (the vexatious stirring up of quarrels, fights or lawsuits) and Eavesdropping5,6. It is likely that the account was written by Lees himself.

Sources

1. The Peerage: Rev. Sir Harcourt Lees
2. Slave owners compensation claim (UCL Archives) Claim details for Heldens Etate on St Kitts (125 slaves)
3. London Anti-Jacobin Review (1821)
4. Converts to Rome by Gordon-Gorman, W. (1910). Published by Sands and Co., London p. 169. John Cathcart Lees, brother of the late Rev. Sir Harcourt Lees, Baronet, of Dublin
5. Trial of Sir Harcourt Lees (1823)
6. Trial of Sir Harcourt Lees (entire book as a PDF file) Reprinted book: Publishedby Nabu Press (2012) ISBN: 9781286393529