Biography of Thomas Zanslaur Lee

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For more than forty years Thomas Zanslaur Lee, who died in Providence, Rhode Island, April 13, 1931, carried on the practice of law in Rhode Island courts. He held a distinguished position among the members of his profession, and by his efforts built up a large practice.

Mr. Lee was born at Woonsocket, Rhode Island, on September 26, 1866, a son of Thomas and Eleanor M. Lee, the father a merchant. He attended Woonsocket public schools, including the high school, and was later graduated from St. Bernard’s Academy and from Boston University. He early determined upon the practice of law and enrolled in the Boston University Law School, where he took the Bachelor of Laws, also the Master of Laws and the Doctor of Laws degrees, all earned. He was admitted to the Rhode Island bar on August 8, 1888, and continuously carried on the practice of his profession in Rhode Island until his death.

From the year 1900 until 1918, Mr. Lee was a member of the firm of Barney and Lee. From 1918 to 1922, he was senior partner of Lee, Boss and McCanna, which from 1922 was known as Lee and McCanna. His services were in wide demand in numerous important cases which he carried to successful conclusion. Mr. Lee’s reputation extended far beyond the borders of his State. He was an active member of the American Bar Association, and for three years served on its General Council. He was also a life member of the American Law Institute, of the Rhode Island Bar Association, the International Law Association, the American Judicature Society, the Bigelow Association of Masters of Laws, and the Boston University Law School Association, of which he was twice president and, at the time of his death, was a member of the executive committee.

In spite of the pressure of his professional duties, Mr. Lee found time for public service in various responsible positions. From 1888 until 1902, except for a period of two years, he was clerk of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. For six years he was one of the justices of the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District in Rhode Island. Fraternally Mr. Lee was affiliated with the Boston University Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and with Webster Chapter of Phi Delta Phi, the legal society. He was much interested in the early history of our country, and in the work of the various historical associations, being a member of the American Historical Association, the Rhode Island Historical Association, the Rhode Island Historical Society, and the Citizens’ Historical Association. He was a member of the Manhattan Club of New York, the Turks Head Club of Providence, the Royal Societies Club of London, and the University Club of Boston. Mr. Lee continued active in practice in Providence, with offices in the Old Industrial Trust Building-up to his death. His residence was No. 345 Hope Street, Providence.

On June 3, 1920, Thomas Zanslaur Lee married Flora Provan, daughter of James and Jessie (Forrest) Provan.

Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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