John Lee (1733-1793) was born in Leeds, England, to Thomas Lee and Mary Reveley. He was educated at Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn, and was admitted to the bar in 1756. He ran a successful law practice before coming to the attention of Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquis of Rockingham, whose party was then in opposition in Parliament. In 1769, Rockingham insisted that Lee be appointed recorder of Doncaster. Lee supported the Rockingham party's opposition to war with the American colonies, and followed their positions on parliamentary reform. He participated in the Yorkshire petition movement, and favored the reformist campaign that arose in the last years of the American War for Independence. In 1779, Lee served on the defense counsel for Admiral Augustus Keppel, who was court martialed and acquitted for his actions during the First Battle of Ushant. Rockingham became prime minister for the second time in 1782 (having previously served from 1765-1766), and he appointed Lee solicitor general. Soon after, Lee was elected a member of Parliament for Clitheroe. After Rockingham's death in 1782, Lee resigned as solicitor general and threw his support behind the North-Fox Coalition, which opposed Lord Shelburne's government. Lee then served again as solicitor general, and then attorney general, before the Coalition fell from power in December 1783. Though he still supported Charles Fox, poor health limited Lee's ability to participate actively in politics after 1783. Lee died of cancer at his home in Staindrop, Durham, in 1793. He was survived by his wife, Mary Hutchinson Lee (1734-1812), whom he had married in 1769, and a daughter named Mary Tabitha (1777-1851).
From the guide to the John Lee papers, Lee, John papers, 1763-1851, (William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan)