Support Just the News

Help Fund Honest Journalism

Donate

Fact checkers say pastor who claims descent from General Robert E. Lee has no relation

The pastor has made numerous public and media appearances against confederate monuments.

Updated: May 19, 2021 - 2:07pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A fact-check on the North Carolina pastor's assertion that he's a descendent of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is raising doubt about his ancestry. 

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler says the Rev. Robert Wright Lee IV is not related to Lee, as the pastor claimed last week.

Lee led the South in the U.S. Civil War of the early 1860s in its unsuccessful effort to secede from the country's Northern and Pacific states. 

The pastor has for roughly the past five years attempted to use his family name to advocate for the removal of Confederate monuments, which critics say are a symbol of the southern states  previous support of slavery.

"There are members in my family who are shaking in their boots. I’m sure my ancestor Robert E. Lee is rolling in his grave, and I say, let him roll," Wright Lee told a crowd in 2020 after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced the removal of a statue of the general.

Wright Lee claims he is a great-great-great-great nephew of the famous general. Kessler says his research has found the pastor's ancestry isn't connected to Charles Carter Lee, Robert E. Lee's brother, but instead from a William Lee of Alabama.

According to historical records, William Lee had no relation to the Lees of Virginia, entering the country almost one hundred years after the general's ancestors did.

Just the News Spotlight