Judge Joseph Lee

Owner 1758 to 1802

Born in 1710 or 11, the records of his Harvard class of 1729 describe him as “one of the more disorderly members of a quiet class.” Like others of his time, he was a merchant, and a land speculator. He married the youngest daughter of Lieutenant Governor Spencer Phipps in 1755 and three years later bought the Brattle Street house.

In 1769, he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas, but when considered for a permanent appointment was rejected as being unfit. Lee was elected to the House of Representatives, but was denied reelection in 1766. He then accepted an appointment to the most controversial and reviled governing body in the colony, the Mandamus Council, a group appointed by the king in 1774 to replace the elected officials. However, when citizens gathered to protest against this council, Lee resigned.

Following the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Judge Lee sought protection in British-held Boston and then later in Philadelphia and New Jersey. However, unlike the other Cambridge Tories, two years later he was back in Cambridge, reclaiming his house after the departure of the Continental Army. He lived out the rest of his life in Cambridge and worked for the new American government.