THOMAS LEE, NATIVE OF ABYSSINIA
Harry Verelst, Governor of Bengal from 1767 to 1769, returned to England and lived for a time in a villa in the village of Lee, near Blackheath. In 1771 the parish registers of St. Margaret’s church, Lee, has an entry reading “Thomas Lee. The Indian Black Servant of Governor Verelst was baptised July the 17th 1771”. We assume that Thomas was given the surname Lee as this was where he was baptised.
Governor Harry bought the Aston Estate in 1773 from Robert, Earl of Holderness and came to live here with his wife Ann and their servant, Thomas Lee. Thomas died on the 30th June 1801 and the entry in the Aston Burial Register reads “July 2nd Thomas Lee late Servant to Mrs. Verelst”. His headstone is close to the wall along Church Lane. Unfortunately time and weather have eroded the stone and in 2012 Aston-cum-Aughton History Group placed in front of the headstone, a stone engraved with the original wording. A dedication service was held by Rev. Ian Jennings on Sunday 19th February 2012 after morning service.
Recently we noticed that the new stone had become detached and it was removed for safe keeping. We asked Mr. Barry Pritchard of Barry Pritchard Funeral Service, 88-90 Worksop Road, Swallownest, his advice on affixing the stone once more. Barry very kindly offered to do this work for us and we are pleased to say that the stone is once more in the churchyard, commemorating the life of Thomas.