Lee (Leae), Charles (1545–86), Jesuit, was born in Cloyne, Co. Cork, son of Maurice Lee, medical doctor, and his wife Mary Sheehy. He was educated at Oxford, Paris, and Cologne, where he obtained an MA. He entered the Society of Jesus in Rome in 1570 and was ordained five years later. In 1576 he and a fellow Irishman, David Irish, were appointed to the mission in Ireland, where there had been no Jesuit presence since the departure of David Wolfe (qv) in 1573. Both the severity with which Wolfe had been treated and his strong political commitment suggested that the mission might be dangerously unwelcome, and Lee, who was appointed superior for the journey, was warned that he and his companion must confine their activities to spiritual matters and stay clear of political intrigue.
Accompanied by Edmund Tanner (d. 1579), a former Jesuit who had been appointed bishop of Cork and Cloyne in 1574, they arrived in Ireland in November 1576. Lee and another Jesuit, Robert Rochford, taught in a school in Youghal (in Tanner's diocese) until Rochford became involved in the Baltinglass rebellion, served as chaplain to Viscount Baltinglass (qv), and fled with him from Ireland in 1581. Lee was arrested on suspicion of complicity and imprisoned in Dublin. While in prison, he used the medical skills that he had learned from his father to treat the ailments of his fellow prisoners, most notably Archbishop Dermot O'Hurley (qv). The lord deputy, Sir John Perrot (qv), believed that Lee's ministrations as a physician were a cover for the administration of the sacraments to his patients.
Lee was released in 1584 and spent the last years of his life in Cloyne. His death in 1586 brought the second Jesuit mission to Ireland to an end.