Robert James Lees - Family in Hinckley

Robert James Lees


The Lees Family in Hinckley
by Mike Hutchinson

Mike Hutchinson is a respected family historian and genealogist who is related to the Lees family through one of Robert James Lees' sisters.  He has undertaken considerable research into Robert James Lees' antecedents, and the following article is drawn from his extensive knowledge of the subject

Lee's birthplace - bakery next to Black Horse pub

The birthplace of Robert James Lees.
The small building, formerly a bakery and now a flower shop, on the right of this picture


The earliest reference to the Lees family in Hinckley is in 1817 when Robert Lees (William's father) married Mary Lingham on the 16th October at St. Mary's Parish Church. Robert had arrived in Hinckley from outside the county as a result of the expansion of the Framework Knitting trade. He carried out his trade of Needle Maker in Castle Street.

William was born in 1818 and his brother James in 1821, Robert continued his trade in Castle Street up to his death on 2nd of April 1848. The two boys went into trade William as a Carpenter, and James as a Framesmith Machinist. William surfaces in the records again in January 1840 when he marries Elizabeth Patch on the 28th at Hinckley parish church. Elizabeth was the daughter of a local Farmer and Grocer Joseph Patch. Joseph owned property in Bond Street, which in later years was to play a part in the fortunes of William.


Lee's birthplace - frontage of both pubs  

The three buildings in Hinckley's Lower Bond Street that have strong associations with the Lees family, the Black Horse, the Queen's Head, and the small shop between the two public houses


In 1847 some of the property in the area of the Queens Head in Bond Street was purchased by William, this was transferred to Joseph in 1849. The property eventually consisted of The Queens Head, the Bakery and shop between it and the Black Horse, and eleven cottages, which occupied the area from the rear of the Bond street properties to Back Lane (later Factory Road). These properties provided Joseph with a reasonable income from rents, and at time home for William and his growing family.

The family started in 1843 with the birth of Elizabeth in 1843, then William Lingham in 1844. Robert James was born in 1849, and his birth certificate gives the address simply as Bond Street and his father's occupation as Grocer and Baker. It is therefore most likely that he was living in the shop adjacent to the Queens Head, which is still standing, although much modified. In 1853 my Great grandmother Mary Lingham was born, and by now William was running the Queen's Head on behalf of his Father in Law. A further child Sarah arrived in 1858, by which time William is again a Grocer.


Lee's birthplace- bakery between pubs  

The Black Horse Public House, with Lees' birthplace located to the left


William remained in Hinckley until some time between the end of 1860 and the date of the census in 1861. He next surfaces in Pennington Street Rugby in September when he is involved in a dispute over money with a Mr. Hart. The family left Rugby for Birmingham some time between 1861 and 1864 when he gives his occupation in the directory as Joiner of 15 Cross Street, the following year he gives his occupation as Shopkeeper. In 1867/8 he moved to 10 Lease Lane and claimed to be a Patent Cement manufacturer. This venture must have failed, for in 1871 he gives his address and occupation as Printer of 88 Pershore Street, Birmingham.

By now Joseph Patch had died and his widow continued to obtain the income from the property rents. On her death in 1876 the properties were sold by auction, and this gives another brief insight into William's way with money. He received 10 in advance of settlement of the estate meant for Elizabeth his wife, who was the major beneficiary of the sale.


Queen's Head next to Lees birthplace  

The Queen's Head Public House
Lower Bond Street

Old Queen's Head  

The Queen's Head Public House in earlier times

This brought a rebuke to the solicitor; Samuel Preston who was handling the affairs in Hinckley; from William Lingham Lees the son; and the promise from the solicitor that no more money would be given to William. By this time matters in the Lees' household must have been getting worse, for in October 1877 William consulted the Samuel Preston with a view to a legal separation from Elizabeth, in consideration of half the money that was in the bank. This would have amounted to at least 600, (Elizabeth's share of the sale of most of the properties in Hinckley). This separation never came about, but William did leave Elizabeth, for in May 1880 he died in Liverpool Workhouse at the age of 66 from lung congestion. William was buried in Liverpool at the expense of the Workhouse. His total personal effects are given in the National Probate Register as less than 100, probably just the clothes he stood up in.

Despite William's lack of good sense with money the children all seem to have had an education, and prospered, William Lingham Lees became a Haberdasher and Draper. Mary ran a Shirt Factory in Birmingham, besides bringing up eight children and looking after the home of Alfred Hutchinson who was in the Gold Trade. Robert of course went into the Journalist's Trade.


The Queen's Head today  

The Queen's Head
Lower Bond Street


The Queen's Head as it is today. In Lee's time it was one storey lower, thatched, stone faced and did not have the entrance to the yard at the side, the alterations being late Victorian, Lees was probably born in the shop between this pub and the Black Horse. The pub and shop are now owned by the same person. (Photo: courtesy Mike Hutchinson)


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2003 Stephen Butt