Henry Lee IV (1787-1837)

Major "Black Horse Harry" Lee IV, of Stratford Hall, Virginia

Associated Houses

Stratford Hall


He was born at Stratford Hall, Virginia, and was the elder half-brother of General Robert E. Lee. He was educated at Washington Academy in Lexington, Virginia, before graduating from the College of William & Mary in 1808. He served as a Major in the War of 1812. His father - nicknamed "Light-Horse Harry" - was hardly a parody of virtue but the scandals in his own life led him to be nicknamed "Black-Horse Harry". The scandals (related in the history of Stratford Hall) and ensuing court cases forced him to sell his family's ancestral home in 1822 and he went to Tennessee where he attempted to reconcile himself with his wife. She had become a morphine addict since the death of their only child in 1818 which had precipitated his affair with her younger sister. To escape the sadness and scandal that hung over Stratford Hall she was taken in to the home of Andrew Jackson. Jackson also took an interest in rehabilitating Lee for whom he became a speechwriter. When Jackson won the U.S. Election in 1828, it was Lee and William Berkeley Lewis who helped co-author his inaugural address. By way of thanks, Jackson gave him a consular posting to Algeria, but the Senate blocked the appointment. Lee spent the last years of his life in Paris, where he died without any surviving children.


Contributed by Mark Meredith on 29/11/2018 and last updated on 28/04/2021.