The Henry Lee Society (HLS) was founded in 1981 by a group of genealogy researchers seeking their common
ancestor, believed to be Henry Lee of York County, VA. Henry was one of the early colonists in York County, very
near Williamsburg and present-day Norfolk.
As time went on, many of these researchers found that they did NOT descend from Henry, but rather from a John
Lee found first in the late 1600's in nearby Nansemond County, VA. These "John Lee of Nansemond", or JLN for
short, family members remain the core of the HLS to this date. Indeed, the JLN family appears to be one of the
largest Lee-surname clans in the USA in modern times.
The founders of the Henry Lee Society also believed that they were somehow linked to the "Lees of Virginia", a
famous family that included two signers of the Declaration of Independence, multiple senators, judges, ambassadors,
and generals, including of course the famous Robert E. Lee. Many Lee families maintain the legend that they are
somehow related to The General; reality tells us that this is generally untrue. As, in this case, the HLS founders
concluded that the JLN line and the Lee of VA line were indeed separate and there was no surname-related
connection between the two (there may have been intermarriages, however...).
Members of the HLS helped found the Lee Family Study at Relative Genetics, later sold to Ancestry.com, and
members of the HLS have been that Study's only Administrators. It was through DNA science that the HLS learned of
the disconnects between the Henry Lee line, the JLN line, and the Lee of Virginia line of Lees. In fact, there may be
as many as 200 different Lee/Lee/Leigh lines out there, just counting the European derivatives. The HLS has sought
participation from all of these Lee-homonymic lines so that we can serve the researcher communities of those lines.
The HLS has also sponsored genealogical research into the JLN family line, has coordinated efforts with the Society
of the Lees of VA to check kinship claims, has given interviews to various publications regarding Lee family
genealogy, and has served to coordinate efforts among many researchers and DNA participants with Lee-
homonymic surnames. The HLS is attempting to become THE central coordinating organization for all Lee-
homonymic surname researchers by creating this website which will include a database of both raw research and
vetted genealogies, all known DNA profiles, and other data relating to those surnames, including key research
The HLS is open to all members of or researchers of Lee-homonymic families, no matter their origin. It you're a Lee,
Lea, Leigh, Ley, Legh, Li, or similar, or working on any of those family lines, you're welcome. Go to the Becoming a
Member tab at the top of this page for more information on Membership. You'll be joining a great bunch of
dedicated genealogists devoted to researching these surnames. Happy hunting!