Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lee, James Prince

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1423204Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 32 — Lee, James Prince1892Charles William Sutton

LEE, JAMES PRINCE (1804–1869), bishop of Manchester, son of Stephen Lee, secretary and librarian of the Royal Society, was born in London on 28 July 1804, and entered St. Paul's School on 24 May 1813. He was captain of the school from 1822 to 1824, and gained the Campden and Perry exhibitions. In October 1824 he commenced residence at Trinity College, Cambridge, obtaining the Craven scholarship in February 1827, graduating B.A. in 1828, and being elected fellow of his college in October 1829. He was ordained in 1830, and in the following year proceeded M.A. While at Cambridge he was accounted ' one of the most distinguished classical scholars ever known in the university.' From 1830 to 1838 he was a master at Rugby School. Dr. Arnold, the head-master, often spoke with emphasis about his powers and attainments. In 1838 he was elected head-master of King Edward's School at Birmingham. Here his success as a teacher was very great, and among his pupils were many who became distinguished in after-life, including E. W. Benson, archbishop of Canterbury, J. B. Lightfoot, bishop of Durham, and B. F. Westcott, the present bishop of the same see. Archbishop Benson preached a most affectionate sermon after the funeral of his old master. In the educational institutions of Birmingham, especially in the establishment of the school of art, he took the warmest interest.

He was elected honorary canon of Worcester on 6 Sept. 1847, and on 23 Oct. was nominated by Lord John Russell to the newly constituted see of Manchester, his consecration taking place at Whitehall Chapel on 23 Jan. 1848. At the time of his appointment certain charges were made against his private character by a Birmingham surgeon, out Chief-justice Denman stated in the court of queen's bench, in the suit for libel, that Lee s character was unsullied {Annual Register, 1847, p. 148). On entering into the duties of his episcopate he was met with opposition and distrust of many of his clergy, and he was long the subject of misrepresentation and misunderstanding. He was thought, not without justification, to be despotic, and to pursue pedagogic methods, yet it was never questioned that he always acted from a sense of duty, and many acts of extreme kindness and consideration, especially towards the younger or poorer clergy, are recorded. His successor, Bishop Fraser, bore testimony to the admirable organisation which he introduced into, the new diocese. Always a great encounter of church extension, Lee consecrated his first church on the day he was enthroned, and his 130th church on the Saturday before he died. He actively promoted the establishment of the Manchester Free Library, and made an admirable speech at the opening ceremony in August 1852. He was an excellent platform speaker, as well as a polished and accomplished preacher. His fine library reflected the wide range of his learning. Conspicuous in the collection were the Dooks on art and British and foreign topography and history. Its special characteristic was, however, the works in Greek Testament literature.

His publications consisted only of two episcopal charges, and a few occasional sermons, with a volume issued in 1834 bearing the title of 'Sermons and Fragments attributed to Isaac Barrow, D.D., now first collected and edited from the MSS. in the University and Trinity College Libraries, Cambridge.' The manuscripts proved spurious; but Lee's contemptuous critics unjustly overlooked the cautious language used by him in his preface. Lee was in frame rather spare, in stature scarcely above the middle height; his face was angular, his complexion pale. He impressed strangers as being rather stern and taciturn, but to his intimate friends his manner was winning and his conversation brilliant. He married, on Christmas day 1830, Susannah, elder daughter of George Penrice of Elerbridge, "Worcestershire, and had two daughters: Sophia Katherine, married in 1857 to the Rev. John Booker; and Susannah Sarah, who married in 1852 the Rev. Charles Evans.

He died at his residence, Mauldeth Hall, near Manchester, on 24 Dec 1869, aged 65, after suffering for some years from habitual ill-health, and was buried at the neighbouring church of Heaton Mersey. His library was bequeathed to Owens College, Manchester. Several valuable volumes reserved to his family have since been added to the collection, and his widow, in September 1875, left 1,000l. to provide two annual prizes for encouraging the study of the New Testament in Greek.

[E. W. Benson's Memorial Sermon, 2nd edit., with memorial notices by J. F. Wick en den and others, 1870; Manchester Courier, 27 Dec. 1869; Stanley's Life of Arnold, 1846, p. 226; Pole's Life of Sir W. Fairbairn, 1877, p. 393; Gardiner's Registers of St. Paul's School, 1884, p. 246; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy), iii. 89, 334; J. Evans's Lancashire Authors and Orators, 1850, p. 153; Archdeacon (now Bishop) Durnford's Funeral Sermon, 1870; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. xii. 198; Owens College Magazine, April 1870, notice of Bishop Lee's benefaction by A. W. Ward; Catalogue of Lee's Library, bequeathed to Owens College, compiled under the direction of A. W. Ward, 1871; J. Thompson's Hist. of Owens College; Diggle's Lancashire Life of Bishop Fraser, 1889; Life of Bishop Wilberforce, vols. ii. and iii.; pamphlets — by Guttridge (1847), J. Irvine (1849), E. Fellows (1852), S. Crompton (1862).]

C. W. S.