Lynch Surname Genealogy

is an Irish surname, the 17th most common in Ireland, and has
two probable and one less likely derivations.

  • the first is Anglo-Norman, from the de Lench family which was
    said to have
    arrived with or after Strongbow. They settled first in county
    Meath. A branch then established itself in Galway where they
    became one of the strongest of the famous “Tribes of Galway.”
  • more numerous perhaps in numbers, although less in prominence,
    were the
    Lynchs that came from the Gaelic O’Loingsigh,
    grandson of loingseach
    meaning “seaman.” The O’Loingsigh
    name was used by a number of small clans at various
    around Ireland. The name here is mainly to be found in
    Cork, Kerry, Cavan, Meath, and Clare.
  • a third less plausible origin exists – the Austrian town of
    has been suggested that the Lynch family in Kent and possibly the
    Anglo-Norman Lynchs in Ireland as well may have come originally from
    this town.

surname Lynch transposed into the verb “to lynch.” There is an Irish
and an American version
as to how this happened.

Resources on

Lynch Ancestry

The Anglo-Norman Lynch family
made their home in county Meath where Andrew Lynch secured an estate at
Knock (and what is now called Summerhill) in the early 1200’s.
Gerald Lynch was dispossessed of their castle in Meath by Cromwell in
the 1650’s. John Lynch, a descendant of this line, was thought to
have been the first Lynch to settle in Galway in the early 1400’s.

Galway. The
Lynchs were the most powerful of the fourteen Tribes of Galway
dominated the political, commercial and social life of Galway at a time
when the town was in effect its own city state. From 1484, when
Domenick Lynch procured the
city’s charter, to 1654, when Catholics were debarred from civic
offices, no fewer than 84 mayors of Galway came from the family of
Lynch (including the
infamous James Lynch
who executed his own son). This
family built Lynch’s Castle which still stands on Shop Street in the
city centre.

Galway’s fortunes changed in the 17th century. After Cromwell
captured the town in 1652, many Lynchs were dispossessed of their
property and banished.

Matters then improved during the
Restoration. Isidore Lynch of Drimcong, together with his
compatriot John Kirwan, set himself up as a merchant in London and was
granted Moycullen land back in Galway; and Thomas Lynch was appointed
the Governor of Jamaica. But the respite was brief. William
of Orange’s
troops arrived in Galway in 1690. Property was confiscated and
the town was then sacked.

Many Lynchs fled, some of the “Wild Geese” of
that time. France
provided an early refuge, America and Argentina a later

Others remained and a number did prosper. The 1840 Galway register listed
several Lynch gentry families. They included the Lynch
brothers, the merchants at Lynch’s Castle who had come into possession
of the Moycullen and the West Barna estates. These
estates ended
up being heavily mortgaged and were sold off in the 1850’s. Drimcong House
in this area now thrives as a highly regarded restaurant.

Elsewhere. Lynch
is also an anglicization of the Gaelic O’Loingsigh, meaning “seaman,” and the surname
was to be found along the west coast of Ireland. One hub was west
Cork. The O’Loingsighs
there were in the service of the O’Sullivan
Beara and many forfeited their lands in the 17th century.

west Cork came Liam Lynch, the IRA general during the Civil War, and
Jack Lynch, Taoiseach of Ireland in the 1970’s. Both preserved
their Gaelic O’Loingsigh name.
The Lynch name was also to be found in sizeable numbers in Kerry,
Limerick, and county Clare.

The potato famine of the 1840’s hit the West Coast particularly hard
and many Lynchs emigrated at that time:

  • one family’s account is
    recorded in Mary Lynch Young’s 1993 book, Five Lynch Brothers from County Limerick.
    They set off for America and ended up in Iowa. Others headed at
    that time for
    Canada or Australia.
  • another family history tells of Patrick
    and his family, he nearing seventy, setting off from county Clare in
    1845 for the unknown shores of South Africa.
  • and Eliza Lynch from
    Cork had an even more surprising journey. She became a courtesan
    in Paris and ended up as the mistress of the dictator of

England and Scotland. A
Lynch family from Staple near Canterbury in Kent dates from the
1450’s. William Lynch made his money as a cloth merchant during
Elizabethan times and the family, with their estate at Groves, became
local landed gentry. However, the largest number of Lynchs in
England and Scotland are of
Irish origin. This is reflected in their concentration in London,
Lancashire, and Glasgow.

France was one refuge for fleeing Lynchs.
Lynch, archbishop of Tuam and a classical scholar, fled
there from Galway in 1652. Later, in 1691, came another John
Lynch who
established himself in Bordeaux. This family prospered through
support in the 18th and 19th
centuries. Thomas Michel Lynch established the vineyards which
today produce the Michel Lynch Bordeaux wines.

In 1741, Patrick Lynch left Galway to seek his fortune in Buenos
Aires. He married there a wealthy heiress and
became one of the largest landowners in the Rio de la Plata
region. The
descendants of Patrick Lynch

included, in the 19th century, the Chilean naval hero Patricio Lynch
and, in the 20th, the revolutionary Che Guevara.

The Lynch
name lives on in Argentina, as it does in France, with its wines.
Benegas Lynch is today a renowned Argentine winemaker, from a family
winery that dates back a hundred years.

Caribbean. The
Lynch name appeared
in the Caribbean
from an early time:

  • Thomas Lynch arrived as
    part of Venables’ army in the
    1660’s and became chief justice and eventually Governor of
  • there were Lynch merchants in both Jamaica and Barbados in the
    18th century.
  • John Lynch from Ireland was
    a Kingston
    in the late 1700’s. His family and descendants have been traced
    through the 19th century.

Lynchs came first into the South and then into the North.

Lynchs in the South.
Jonas Lynch arrived in South Carolina from Galway in the 1670’s,
soon after Charleston was founded. His grandson Thomas was a
signer of the Declaration of Independence as a representative of South
Carolina. Afterwards he set sail with his wife for the West
Indies. Their ship disappeared at sea and he was never
found. However, his family estate at Hopsewee in
Carolina still stands.

Charles Lynch came to Virginia as a boy from Ireland in the 1710’s as
an indentured servant. He soon worked off his indenture,
married and represented Albemarle county in the House of
Burgesses. Charles Lynch of this family was the Lynch of Lynch’s Law during
the Revolutionary War. His son Charles was later Governor of
Mississippi. The town of Lynchburg on the James river was named
after the James Lynch of the family who ran the local ferry.
After the Civil War, a branch of this family migrated to Texas.

Meanwhile the descendants of William Lynch of Pittsylvania county
ended up
in South Carolina. Another Lynch family, traced back to the
1770’s, migrated first to Kentucky and then to Crow Creek Valley in

Lynchs in the North.
The Irish influx to America in the 19th century meant that the Lynch
presence then switched to the main Irish immigrating centers of Boston,
York, and Philadelphia.

In his 2005 memoir Booking Passage:
We Irish and Americans,

Thomas Lynch recounted how his Lynchs of county Clare “survived
starvation, eviction and emigration, that three-headed scourge of
English racism,” and the pain of their diaspora as they emigrated to
US. He also described his own reunion in 1970 with long-lost
relatives back in Ireland and his astonishment at finding out that
their way
of life had not changed (no cars, no
television, and no running water) in the intervening years.

Lynchs came first as convicts and later as settlers.

James Lynch
from Cork, for instance, was transported on the convict ship Asia in 1824. He secured his
freedom seven years later and was a stockman in the Monaro region
of NSW. Meanwhile Thomas Lynch arrived in Victoria on the Himalaya in 1842 and settled down
as a farmer at Mount Burchett near Glen Thompson. Both these
Lynchs married, had ten or more children, and have a large number of
descendants living today.

Lynchs in the Gold Boom.
The gold discoveries drew Irishmen to Australia, including many
Lynchs. One Lynch family rose to prominence in the Ballarat
goldfields in Victoria, another later at Kalgoorlie in Western
Australia. But they emerged with completely different politics.

John Lynch led a goldminers’ rebellion at Ballarat, known as the Eureka
Stockade, in 1854 and his son Arthur was perhaps even more
radical. He went out to South Africa at the turn of the century
and fought for the Boers against the British. On his return to
England, he was tried for high treason and sentenced to death; but
through the intervention of influentual friends, he was later released
and exiled.

William Lynch was a connecting point between Ballarat and
Kalgoorlie. He was a Ballarat miner and it was his son-in-law
Paddy Hannan who made the great Kalgoorlie gold discovery in
1893. Later Patrick Lynch rose
through local labor ranks in Kalgoorlie to play his part in national
politics. By the time of the First World War he had become,
surprisingly, a staunch defender of the prevailing social order.

Lynch Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Lynch Names

Domenick Lynch procured the royal
charter for Galway from Richard III in 1484.
Charles Lynch, was the
instigator of “Lynch’s Law” during the Revolutionary War, from which
the term lynching is said to have arisen.
Patricio Lynch was a 19th
century Chilean naval officer nicknamed “the last viceroy of Peru.”
John Lynch led the Eureka
Stockade, a rebellion by Australian gold miners, in 1854.
Edmund C. Lynch with Charles E.
Merrill founded the investment house of Merrill Lynch in 1915.
Benny Lynch, who grew up Irish
Glasgow, boxed as a flywight in the 1930’s and was
considered one of
the best boxers of his type at that time.
Patricia Lynch from Cork was a
prolific and highly esteemed writer of children’s fiction.
from Cork was twice Irish Taoiseach during the 1970’s.
David Lynch is the
idiosyncratic American film director responsible for the cult TV series
Twin Peaks and the movie Lost Highway.

Select Lynches Today

  • 32,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 48,000 in America (most numerous
    in New York).
  • 57,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland).




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