Select Lynch Miscellany

Here are some Lynch stories and accounts over the years:

Lynch Anglo-Norman or Not?

The common perception of the Lynch's of Meath and Galway is that they were Anglo-Norman, descendants of a Strongbow follower who had come from England.  The first recognizable Lynch - referred to at the time as de Lench or de la Linche - was Andrew Lynch who lived at Knock in Meath around the year 1200.  Was he related to Norman forebears?

The case could be made that he was instead of Gaelic origin, operating in the new Norman Ireland as a Norman lord.  His base at Knock in fact preceded the Norman invasion and was known as Cnoc na Loinsigh, an important southern outpost for the Ulster O'Neill clan.  The O'Loinsigh was a Gaelic clan that were vassals of the O'Niells.  Their Gaelic name later became anglicized as Lynch.  Possibly Andrew Lynch was of this clan.

Elizabeth Lynch in her 1925 book The Lynch Record wrote that Brian Boru had made an ordinance that every family and clan should adopt a particular surname.  Many like the O'Loinsighs chose an ancient chief.

"The name Lynch is derived from Longseach, a mariner.  Maion, afterwards called Labradh Longseach, was the son of Oiloll Aine in a line dating back to Hugony the Great.  Labradh Longseach, living in the year 541, wore the crown of Ireland for eighteen years until he fell at the last by the sword of Cobhthach Caolmbreag."     

The Lynchs of Galway

The Lynchs were one of the fourteen "Tribes of Galway" who dominated the political, commercial and social life of Galway from the 13th century onwards.  During that time Galway grew into a major port, trade expanded, particularly in wine and brandy, and ships from France and Spain filled the harbor.  The walled city soon had fourteen arched gateways opening paths for the sun to light fourteen streets paved by mercantile success.

The families themselves, loyal to the British Crown, hated and feared the native Gaelic-speaking Irish.  A by-law in the city charter went so far to state that "neither 'O' nor 'Mac' shall strutte ne swagger thro' the streets of Galway."

The Lynch line began with William le Petit who was granted lands in West Meath in 1185.  In his History of Galway, Harriman gave the following description of the Lynchs in Galway:

"This is one of the most ancient and, until the middle of the 17th century, one of the leading families of Galway.  John Delenche was the first settler of the name in Galway.  He was married to the daughter and sole heiress of William Mareschall.  Thomas, the son of John, was the first Provost or mayor of the city in 1274; while Thomas Lynch was the last mayor in 1654.  For the 169 years of the history of Galway, prior to 1654, no less than 84 Lynchs served as mayor of the city. 

In 1654 when Cromwell captured the city, the 'ancient inhabitants' who refused to submit to English rule were dispossessed of their property and banished.  All 45 Lynchs then residing in Galway refused to submit to England and were banished."      

Galway suffered further in 1690 when William of Orange sent his forces to seize the town.  Property was confiscated and the town was sacked.  The decaying mansions of the families were plastered over with concrete.  And by 1820 the walls of the town had been pulled down.

Lynch and Lynching - The Irish Version

What is the relationship between the name "Lynch" and the verb "to lynch?"  The following is the Irish version.  It relates to James Lynch was the mayor of Galway City in 1493.

The story goes that the mayor's son killed another man, a young Spaniard, in a local bar because he had shown an interest in his lady love.  The young Lynch was subsequently charged, convicted for murder, and then sentenced to death by hanging for his crime.  However, as he was the son of the mayor, no one would carry out the sentence.  was said to have hanged his own son for murder when no one else could be found to carry out the sentence.  Finally the mayor himself put the noose around his son's neck and hung him there by the neck until he was dead.

There is another version of the story which shows the mayor in slightly better light.  Here the mayor sent his son on a voyage to Spain to collect a cargo of wine.  But somehow the money in which he was entrusted for the purchase went missing.  The Spanish merchant who supplied him with the wine therefore sent his nephew with Lynch back to England to receive payment.  During the voyage home, however, the young Spaniard was seized from his bed and thrown overboard.  The crime might have been concealed had not one of the seamen on that voyage, on his deathbed, revealed the details to the mayor. The mayor was enraged by this act of murder and, acting as magistrate, convicted his own son and sentenced him to death.

A Lynch memorial structure was built in the mid 19th century in the large window of the original Lynch house where the hanging was said to have taken place.  Some have suspected that the story of the hanging may well have been elaborated upon in order to draw attention to the monument at a time when the word "lynching" had come into common usage through events in America.

Lynch and Lynching - The American Version

What is the relationship between the name "Lynch" and the verb "to lynch?"  The following is the American version (or versions).

Some have thought that the term "lynch" first came from an address supposedly given by William Lynch to an audience in Virginia in 1712 regarding the control of slaves within the colony.   However, this speech has never in fact been authenticated and the claim may turn out to be spurious.  As might be a later claim relating to another William Lynch, this time in Pittsylvania county, Virginia in 1780.

A better documented use of the term "Lynch's Law" comes from Charles Lynch, the Virginia justice of the peace and militia officer during the American Revolutionary War.  "Lynch's Law" was the term used to describe his actions in suppressing a suspected Loyalist uprising in 1780.  The suspects were given a summary trial at an informal court.  The sentences handed down included whipping, property seizure, coerced pledges of allegiance, and conscription into the military.   Charles Lynch's extra-legal actions were retroactively legitimized by the Virginia General Assembly as Lynch's Law in 1782.

It was only later, principally aftrer the Civil War, that "lynch" came to mean hanging as a result of mob action, principally of blacks by whites.

From Patrick Lynch to Che Guevara

Patrick Lynch left Galway in Ireland for Buenos Aires in 1749 to seek his fortune.  He married there a wealthy heiress and became one of the large landowners of the Rio de la Plata region. 

He was the forebear of a large number of Argentine descendants through the various branches of his family. They included:

  • Patrico Lynch, grandson, who started an Argentine shipping company in the early 1800's.
  • Patricio Lynch, great grandson, who was a rear-admiral in the Chilean navy.
  • Benito Lynch, great great great grandson, an Argentine novelist and short-story writer.
  • Adolfo Bioy Casares, great great great great grandson, an Argentine writer.
  • and Che Guevara, great great great great grandson, the revolutionary.

The line to Che Guevara started with Francisco Lynch and his daughter Ana.  Her son Ernesto Guevara Lynch was born in 1900, married Celia de la Serna, and they had five children, including Ernesto (Che) born in 1927. Che's father wrote once:

"The first thing to note is that in my son's veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels, the Spanish conquistadores and the Argentine patriots.  Evidently Che inherited many of the features of our restless ancestors.  There was something in his nature which drew him to distant wanderings, dangerous adventures, and new ideas."

Che Guevara visited Ireland once, in 1965.  But there is no evidence that he felt any kinship with the country.

Buccaneer, The Hector Lynch Novel

In the second Hector Lynch novel by Tim Severin, the young seafarer falls into the hands of the notorious buccaneer Captain John Coxon who mistakes him for his nephew Sir Thomas Lynch, Governor of Jamaica.  Hector encourages the error so that his friends Jacques and Dan can go free.

Coxon delivers Hector to Sir Henry Morgan, a bitter enemy of Governor Lynch.  The captain expects to curry favor with Morgan, but is publicly humiliated when the deception is revealed.  From now on Hector has a dangerous enemy.

Reader Feedback - Lynch in the Caribbean

family research over the last decade or so suggests that Sir Thomas Lynch, eventual Governor of Jamaica was not the same person who may have been known as Buckra Lynch.  My research suggests that Sir Thomas was an Englishman whose almost sole connection with the Caribbean was Jamaica and that he indeed arrived without title and went back and forth between England and Jamaica several times, sometimes "with his tail between his legs".  I believe his Governorship was by direct appointment from the Crown and he was so appointed while he was in England and went back to Jamaica again to assume that position. 

There was another (successful Irish merchant) Lynch family in Jamaica - including John Lynch - about the same time as Sir Thomas was there whose overflow kin arriving from Ireland went onto to set up shop in Barbados, also successfully.  By English standards, the Irish of the day were considered lower than the stray dogs in London's streets and no Irishman could possibly have been appointed an Under Secretary in England then, far less a Governor of a colony. 

Buckra was the name/title given by the slaves - and later negro plantation hands - to the "Big Boss", whether the resident owner or the manager representing the non-resident owner.  Buckra is also a booklet written and published by Noel Lynch Ripley, a descendant of the Irish Jamaican Lynch clan, still available through eBay and other sources.  A very interesting read, if you want I can send you a .doc file with the entire text. 

I have found the name Lynch chiefly in Jamaica and Barbados, but it crops up in lesser numbers in Antigua, Montserrat and St. Kitts and in lesser numbers in Trinidad and other islands.  Nicholas Lynch a "servant of Codrington" is listed on Hotten's Lists as being on board a ship from Barbados bound for Nevis (where Horatio Nelson's wife was born).  My research is mainly of the name Lynch in Barbados, but obviously I record as much as I can so as not to "reinvent the wheel" later on in my research. 

Best wishes,
Jim Lynch in Toronto, Canada (

Lynchs in Galway in 1840

The following were the notable Lynch families recorded in the Galway area in 1840:
- Anthony H. Lynch, Member of Parliament
- James Lynch, Lynch's Castle
- Charles French Lynch, Petersburg House
- Captain Peter Lynch, Ballycurrin Castle on Moyne Hill (on the Mayo-Galway border)
- Nicholas Lynch, Barna
- Patrick M. Lynch, Renmore Lodge
- Richard M. Lynch, Seaview

Anthony Lynch was a lawyer.  He had compiled statistics on the population of Ireland in the 1820's and was the MP for county Galway between 1832 and 1841.

James Lynch was a merchant who operated out of Lynch's Castle.

Petersburg House was named after the Peter Lynch who had  built "the big house" on Lough Mask in 1715.  Charles Lynch of Petersburg House was a justice of the peace in 1840.  His wife Elizabeth was soon to convert to Catholicism.

A Lynch family had held Ballycurrin on the Mayo-Galway border since the 1670's (under a Restoration settlement).  Captain Peter Lynch died there in 1840.  He was succeeded by his son Charles, the last of the line, who later became the high sheriff for county Mayo.

Nicholas Lynch of Barna was appointed deputy lieutenant of county Galway in October 1840.  He acted as a steward for the Grand Ball that was held at Kilroy's hotel on Easter Monday, 1840 for the nobility and gentry of Galway.

Patrick Lynch of Renmore Lodge came from a Galway family who had prospered as merchants and bankers in the 18th century.  He married Ellen Wilson and their family later became the Wilson Lynchs.

Richard Lynch of Seaview was among those who subscribed 20 in 1840 as provisions for the poor.

Drimcong House

Gerry Galvin and his family run Drimcong House, situated one mile beyond Moycullen village on the Oughterard road.  It is reputed to be one of the best restaurants in the west of Ireland.

The restaurant is located in an old 17th century mansion which once belonged to the Lynch family, one of the original "tribes" of Galway.  It has not lost any of its former glory.  Three huge fireplaces burn turf on chilly nights, contributing to the warm atmosphere.

On the menu are Connemara lamb, confit of duck, Galway venison, and a selection of vegetarian dishes.

Patrick Lynch - A Colorful Australian Politician

Patrick Lynch died in 1944.  The following obituary appeared in The North Midland Times that January.

"Vale P.J. Lynch - a colorful personality.

Patrick Joseph Lynch, former President of the Senate, died in a private hospital at Mount Lawley on Saturday, aged 76.  He had been taken ill suddenly at Albany about two weeks before his death.

The late Mr. Lynch was one of the most picturesque personalities in state and federal politics, his height, beard, and Irish idiom making him an outstanding figure.  Born in 1867 in county Meath, the son of a farmer, he left for Australia in 1886 to follow varied occupations on land and sea until politics claimed his major attention.

Before entering politics, he joined a gold rush in Queensland where he trekked 900 miles from Charleville to Croydon.  When his fortunes waned at Croydon he set out for Cossack, WA but at Darwin learnt that this field was a failure.  He then went to sea as a stoker, graduating from that position to marine engineer and later becoming an engineer on a South Sea sugar plantation.  However, goldmining attracted him again and he came to the Kalgoorlie field in the closing years of the last century.

At Kalgoorlie he was general secretary of the Goldfields Engine Driver's Association from 1897 to 1904 when he entered state politics as the Labor member for Mount Leonara.  Two year later he was returned to the Federal Parliament where he served continuously until 1938.  In 1916, severing his connection with the Labor party over conscription, he joined the Hughes government as Minister for Works and Railways.

In addition to politica, the late Mr. Lynch was also interested in farming.  His well-equipped farm at Three Springs occupied what time he could spare from politics."


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