Doctor William Lynn
OF ULSTER, IRELAND AND FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA
Brother of Margaret (Lynn) Lewis and Others
Born ca. 1690 in Ulster - Died 1758 in Fredericksburg
24 April 2019
In the 17th and early 18th centuries, a family of Lynns lived in Londonderry, Donegal, and Tyrone which included brothers William, Charles, Audley, and possibly John and sisters Elizabeth and Margaret. William was born about 1690 and chose medicine for his career. The names these siblings gave their children suggest that their own parents were named William and Ann, although this author has no record to confirm it. Another author suggests instead that their parents were William Lynn and Margaret Patton, but the source on which that author relies is an 1879 letter written by the wife of a descendant of Dr. Lynn's sister Margaret.
Regardless, the record as a whole ~ especially, Dr. Lynn's will and Londonderry corporate records ~ should lead one to believe that the City and County of Londonderry must have been the home of the immediate family of Dr. Lynn in Ireland.
Notably, an apothecary named William Lin petitioned the Londonderry Common Council for admission as a freeman of the city on 2 January 1715/16 [Corporation of L.Derry Minute Book from 1704 to 1720, p. 256]. Apothecaries in that day had earned the status of skilled practitioners and often served as physicians. At the same time, it wasn't until the 19th century that the medical professions as a whole were fully established in their modern institutional forms.
Considering the inconsistency in spelling of names through the 18th century, it is very possible, though not proven, that the apothecary William Lin and Dr. William Lynn were one and the same. Also, Dr. Lynn left family in Londonderry, and elsewhere in Ulster, as recorded in his 1757 will. The brother named first in the will is Charles, and a Mr. Charles Linn was admitted a freeman of Londonderry just eight years after William Lin's admission [Corporation of L.Derry Minute Book, vol. 4, p. 51]. Regrettably, Charles's record does not mention his trade or profession, as does William's.
Leaving a large number of relatives in northwest Ulster, Dr. Lynn crossed the Atlantic sometime in or before 1727 and settled in what would become Fredericksburg, Virginia. In 1727, Dr. Lynn ~ along with Robert Brooke, Jr., Robert Lewis, James Mills, William Lewis, and Beverly Robinson ~ petitioned the Governor and Council of Virginia for "Fifty Thousand Acres ... on the head branches of the James River to the West and Northwestard of the Cow Pasture ... lying among the great North Mountains, being about Two Hundred Miles at least from any landing ..." They also asked to be allowed six years to seat the land with "one Family for every Thousand Acres". [Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. I : p. 214].
In November 1751, as the plaintiff in an Augusta County lawsuit, Dr. Lynn was described as the "Irish Doctor William Lynn of Fredericksburg". The defendant was "Irish Doctor John Lynn, of Augusta [County, Virginia]", who is believed to be a brother not named in Dr. William Lynn's will. In the following year, it was noted in a lawsuit captioned Wright vs. Linn that Dr. John Linn had left Augusta County. [Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, Vol. I, pp. 305, 307, Lyman Chalkley, Rosslyn, VA (1912)]. What is important to note is that Dr. William Lynn was not the only person to take Dr. John Lynn to court.
In 1757, the year before Dr. Lynn's death, Major William Lynn was listed as one of the Field Officers of the Spotsvylvania County Militia. [Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. I : pp. 252-53]. Since Dr. William Lynn had no sons, he and Major William Lynn likely are one and the same. Dr. Lynn wrote his will this year.
In his 1757 will, Dr. Lynn described himself as a doctor of physic, which in that era meant a doctor of medicine, while the field of physics was part of what then was called "natural philosophy", referring to the study of the natural world.
As listed in his will, Dr. Lynn owned considerable lands and houses not only in Spotsylvania County but also in Culpeper, Orange, and Prince William Counties. His Orange County land was bequeathed to his friend Roger Dixon. His Fredericksburg property and certain of his Culpeper County properties were bequeathed to either his daughter Ann, his reputed daughter Hannah, or Hannah's daughter Mary a/k/a Molly. Dr. Lynn's remaining properties were to be sold by his executors to pay his debts and legacies.
It may be no coincidence that one Roger Dixon appears in the Londonderry minute book just 25 days after William Lin, apothecary [Corporation of L.Derry, Ibid., p. 357]. Several men named Dent, which would become the married name of Dr. Lynn's daughter Ann, also appear in the minute book as contemporaries of William.
Dr. William Lynn executed his will on 21 October 1757. On 16 February 1758, he added, dated, and signed the appointment of an additional executor. The will was probated less than a month later, on 7 March 1758, so that Dr. Lynn must have died between 16 February and 7 March 1758. [Spotsylvania County Will Book B, 1749-1759 : pp. 350-54].
spelling, punctuation, etc. not yet standardized, the original of this
will contains many words that are capitalized mid-sentence which today
would not be. In these transcripts, only proper nouns and first
words in sentences are capitalized. Also, for ease in comparing each
transcript against its respective original page, each line of the text
ends exactly as in the original, including placement of the end of each
Note: With spelling, punctuation, etc. not yet standardized, the original of this will contains many words that are capitalized mid-sentence which today would not be. In these transcripts, only proper nouns and first words in sentences are capitalized. Also, for ease in comparing each transcript against its respective original page, each line of the text ends exactly as in the original, including placement of the end of each line.
This will is important to the history of Lynns in Londonderry, Donegal, and Tyrone because it leaves bequests to a number of relatives described as living in one or another of those counties. Dr. Lynn specifically listed the cities or towns of Londonderry, Letterkenny, and Strabane, which respectively are situated in Counties Londonderry, Donegal, and Tyrone. In the will, Dr. Lynn named :
An endorsement of the will dated 2 August 1758, made during probate, describes Dr. Lynn's daughter Ann as a "widow (since the Wife of James Finnie)". Ann Lynn and Capt. James E. Finney had married in Spotsylvania County on 7 March 1758. [Marriages of Some Virginia Residents, 1607-1800, Dorothy Ford Wulfeck, Naugatuck, Connecticut (1961)]
A popular assumption by Lynn
genealogists is that "my reputed daughter" must mean that Hannah McCauley
was Dr. Lynn's illegitimate daughter. However,
both before, during, and for some time after the 18th century, any child
conceived during a marriage was presumed under the
law to be a child conceived of the husband; and there was no way to
either prove or disprove it. In
such cases, the husband could refer to the child as “reputed”, as in,
e.g., “this treatment is a reputed cure for cancer, but studies
haven’t confirmed that claim”.
Today, of course, DNA answers such questions; not so, unfortunately, in
the 18th-century. An alternate
scenario that is
Hannah was conceived by Dr. Lynn's wife while still married. He had good reason, such as known infidelity, to question Hannah's paternity but could not legally deny paternity since he and her mother were married. His wife persisted in allowing him to be the presumed father, leaving Hannah with no other father from whom to expect any support or inheritance. William made generous bequests to Hannah because he felt legally bound to do so and because he considered that she had nothing to do with the circumstances of her own conception.
Indeed, the will contains a conspicious further distinction between the two women, Ann Dent and Hannah McCauley. Thirteen times in the will, Dr. Lynn called Ann Dent either "my daughter Ann Dent" or "my said daughter Ann Dent"; once he referred to her simply as "the said Ann Dent". However, he never referred to her merely as Mrs. Ann Dent even though Dent was her married name. In contrast, Hannah was referred to only twice in the will as "my reputed daughter", but three times as "Mrs. Hannah McCauly" and five times merely as "Hannah McCauly" or "the said Hannah McCauly". In each of the six instances where he named both women together, he never once referred to Hannah as a daughter, reputed or otherwise. In five of those same instances, he did call Ann Dent "my daughter" or "my said daughter"; e.g., "my daughter Ann Dent & Mrs. Hannah McCauly".
In his will, Dr. Lynn stipulated that "in case my said Daughter Ann Dent or Mrs. McCauly should have a son Lawfully begotten that he be named William Lynn". As with the descriptor "my reputed daughter", this stipulation should not be taken as proving a blood relationship between Dr. Lynn and Hannah McCauly. In the culture from which Dr. Lynn had come, it was quite common for a man of property with no sons to stipulate that a grandson born of a daughter carry on his name to go along with any property the child might eventually inherit. In this case, leaving property to even a "reputed daughter" would, to the mind of someone such as Dr. Lynn, prompt the same provision for passing on his name along with his property.
Having both a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law with the surname Colhoun means of course that Colhoun was the family of Dr. Lynn's wife. If, instead, he'd had a sister who married into the Colhoun family, he would have had only a Colhoun brother-in-law. Indeed, if Charles Colhoun and Rebecca Colhoun were husband and wife, there would be no need to describe them as "both of Letter Kenny". Dr. Lynn leaving a share of his estate to his in-laws speaks to his having a good relationship with them.
While the probate copy of Dr. Lynn's will lists his
sister Margaret simply as
"Lewis" with no first
it may be that the clerk who wrote the probate copy of the will could not
read her first name in the original will; and, in any case,
it may be that the clerk who wrote the probate copy of the will could not read her first name in the original will; and, in any case,there is ample proof that she was in fact Margaret Lynn, wife of John Lewis.
First, Dr. Lynn's will named four of the five known sons of Margaret and John Lewis and placed the family in Augusta County, where Margaret and John were the founding couple of Staunton, Virginia. Margaret and John Lewis are reported to have immigrated to the Staunton area from County Donegal, Ireland; and various biographies of two of their sons who were prominent early Americans ~ Brigadier General Andrew Lewis and his brother Thomas Lewis ~ report that both men were born in County Donegal. Particularly notable is the fact that another son of John and Margaret (Lynn) Lewis was named William Lynn Lewis.
Second, Vol. XIII, No. 1 of The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography discusses the exploration of the Valley of Virginia and states :
"The next evidence known to exist ... is contained in the petition of Robert Lewis, William Lynn, Robert Brooke, Jr., James Mills, William Lewis and Beverly Robinson, bearing the date in the year 1727, and addressed to the Governor and Council, praying for 50,000 acres of land on the Cow Pasture and James rivers, 'lying among the Great North Mountains' ... William Lynn, named in this petition, was a brother-in-law of John Lewis, the pioneer settler of Augusta county, who probably went to that locality upon information derived from his relative. He was a physician, resided in Fredericksburg, Va., and his will was recorded in Spotsylvania county March 7, 1758."
The Magazine cites "Calendar of Virginia State Papers", Vol. I, p. 214, and "Spotsylvania County Records", New York (1905), pp. 16-17.
Margaret (Lynn) Lewis
See also: Margaret (Lynn) Lewis
An interesting bequest in the will of Dr. William Lynn was to Ann and Hannah of Dr. Lynn's "Books of History & Divinity". Dr. Lynn wrote in the opening paragraph of his will: "... committing my soul to God with hopes of a remission of my sins at the general resurrection thr'o my saviour & Redeemer Jesus Christ ..." Other bequests included "Thirty pounds current money to be divided by my Executors between Ten poor Widows & ten poor orphans of Spotsylvania County", following the biblical mandate in James 1:27 to "look after orphans and widows ..." It is obvious that Dr. Lynn was a devout Christian, though he was no more perfect than any other man.
One last note of interest in Dr. Lynn's will is his mention of the
Virginia lands he owned outside of Spotsylvania County:
Extracting Dr. Lynn's will and probate records, along with biographies of his nephews Thomas Lewis and Andrew Lewis, renders the following brief genealogy of an Ulster family with a forbear whose forename likely was also William. Each and every sibling included in Dr. Lynn's will for whom a son or sons were also listed named a son William. In one case, the will specifically notes Dr. Lynn's brother Charles as having named his eldest son William.
Unknowable is the precise relationship of each of Dr. Lynn's other kin named in the will: Margaret Stuart of Augusta County, Virginia; Moses Lynn, near Strabane, Ireland; Moses' sister Elizabeth; and Lieut. Matthew Lynn, near Londonderry, Ireland. However, the record as a whole ~ Dr. Lynn's will, the Londonderry records, etc. ~ should lead one to believe that the City and County of Londonderry must have been the home of this Lynn family in Ireland.
Four Generations of
I. William Lynn; born 16__; died [unknown]; married Ann ________
1. Ann Lynn; born 17__; married first, Charles Dent; married second, James E. Finnie; died after 2 Aug 1758
2. Hannah Lynn; born 17__; married _______ McCauley; died after 21 Oct 1757
a. Mary McCauley; born 17__; died after 21 Oct 1757
a. Samuel Lewis; born about 1748
b. John Lewis; born about 1750
c. Thomas Lewis; born about 1752
d. Andrew Lewis, Jr.; born about 1759
e. Ann Lewis; born about 1760
f. William Lewis; born about 1764
g. Charles Lewis; born about 1768
3. Margaret Lynn Lewis; born about 1726 in County Donegal, Ireland
C. Charles Lynn; born 16__; possibly died before 21 Oct 1757; married ___________
1. William Lynn; born 17__; died after 21 Oct 1757
2.-?. Others in Ireland
D. Audley Lynn; born 16__; died before 21 Oct 1757; married ___________
1. Ann Lynn; born 17__; lived in London in 1757
E. Elizabeth Lynn; born 16__; lived in Ireland; married ______ Hutcherson; died after 21 Oct 1757
1. David Hutcherson; born 17__; died after 21 Oct 1757
2. William Hutcherson; born 17__; died after 21 Oct 1757
3.-? Others in Ireland
ALSO, the following kin, whose precise relationships to Dr. Lynn are unknown:
1. Moses Lynn; lived near Strabane, County Tyrone; died after 21 Oct 1757
2. Elizabeth Lynn; married Samuel Cook; died after 21 Oct 1757
3. Margaret Stuart; married Rev. Paul; died before 21 Oct 1757, possibly in Augusta County, Virginia
4. Lt. Matthew Lynn; died before 21 Oct 1757, possibly near Londonderry, County Londonderry
a. A daughter; died after 21 Oct 1757
For extensive collections of the history of Lynns, Linns,
House of Lynn