An informal insight into the cultural and social history of the city of Leicester
|A journalist, preacher and philanthropist. Regarded by some as a prophet and a sage, but described by the Metropolitan Police of 1888 as a madman and a fool. Interpreting the writings and actions of Robert James Lees continues to be a challenge.|
Robert James Lees was born in Hinckley and spent his boyhood years in Rugby and Birmingham. After his marriage to Sarah Bishop, whom he met as a boy whilst attending a Sunday School class in the Aston district of Birmingham, he moved to Manchester where he worked for the Manchester Guardian.
In 1874 he
and his young family moved to London so that he could
take up the position of Advertising Manager for a new
monthly magazine. However, within months of commencing
his new career, he became the victim of a loan shark and
for several years lived in poverty. It is claimed that
Lees, as a boy, served as a spiritualist medium for
Queen Victoria who was in mourning for the late Prince
Lees also launched The Peoples' League, a benevolent organisation based in the Peckham district of London, which provided support and activities for the poor and homeless of the area, based on early Socialist principles. He left London in 1895, shortly after an article about his alleged involvement with the Jack the Ripper events was published in a Chicago newspaper.
He moved to St Ives in Cornwall, and thence, briefly, to Plymouth in Devon, and finally to Ilfracombe. His wife died there in 1912.
the end of his eventful and often controversial life,
Lees returned to Leicester where he lived in Fosse Road,
cared for by his devoted daughter Eva. His death in
January 1931 prompted several major newspaper articles,
the contents of which are still debated and disputed