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John Lee (né Fiott), 1783–1866. (NPG)

John Lee (né Fiott), 1783–1866. (NPG)

John Lee (né Fiott) (1783–1866) was the son of London merchant John Fiott and Harriet Lee of Totteridge Park, Hertfordshire. In 1815, the death of his maternal uncle and guardian William Lee Antonie brought a favourable bequest and a stipulation that he take his mother’s surname. Thereafter Lee divided his time between attending to his estates, practising law, liberal politics, philanthropy and scientific pursuits. He was involved in many learned societies, but was best known in astronomical and antiquarian circles. In 1831 he erected an observatory at Hartwell House, where he employed a number of astronomical assistants. His early travel diaries demonstrate his growing interest in antiquities and the sciences, particularly mineralogy, geology and meteorology.


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