by Paul B. McNulty
Richard de Clare of Wales, better known as Strongbow, led the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169. Henry II, the Norman king of England, supported the invasion as did the Anglo-Norman Lynches. Some of invading Lynches (originally de Lench) settled in the walled city of Galway in the west of Ireland.
The appointment of Thomas Lynch as the first provost of Galway in 1274 underscored the progression of the family in Ireland, as did the appointment of more than eighty mayors of Galway named Lynch between 1485 and 1654. When James I bestowed a baronetcy on Henry Lynch, a rich merchant, in 1622, their elevated status was confirmed.
The civil wars of England in the 1640s and the simultaneous revolt of the Confederate Catholics in Ireland led to a disruption of the golden era of the Lynches. Robuck Lynch, 2nd Baronet supported the Irish rebellion. When Cromwell ‘pacified’ Ireland in 1652, he also expelled the Anglo-Norman families from Galway city. The Cromwellians seized their opulent homes in lieu of cash. Undeterred, the Lynches acquired nearby rural estates with Robuck Lynch acting as agent for the Clanricarde Burkes. Like his father, Robuck was a member of the Irish Parliament.
In 1686, James II appointed Henry Lynch, 3rd Bt, as Baron of the Exchequer. Following the Jacobite defeat at the Boyne by William of Orange in 1690, Henry was ‘attainted of high treason.’ He fled from Ireland to Brest where he died in the following year.
When Henry’s great-grandson, Robert Lynch, 6th Bt, proposed to Elizabeth Barker of Suffolk in 1749, The Gentleman’s Magazine valued her at £50,000. She had inherited the fortune of her merchant uncle, Tobias Blosse. Their marriage was seminal because Robert conformed to Protestantism as required by their marriage settlement. Henceforth, the titled Lynches remained Protestant as well as adopting the surname, Lynch-Blosse.
After a brief interlude in Suffolk, the Lynch-Blosses returned to Ireland. Elizabeth died in 1756, aged twenty-eight. Her early death may have unsettled her eldest son, Harry, who became the seventh baronet in 1775. Sir Harry’s liaison with the alluring Sibella Cottle, by whom he had seven children, scandalised the people of Balla, County Mayo, and further afield. When Sir Harry died in 1788 without legitimate heir, familial disruption continued. His nephew, Sir Robert, 8th Bt, eloped at the age of sixteen and settled in Cardiff.
The Lynch-Blosses returned to serve in Ireland until the purchase of their estate of 18,566 acres in 1909. The Congested District’s Board paid £154,000 for their property during the tenure of Henry Lynch-Blosse, 11th Bt. Thereafter, the family settled in Wales and later in England. The current incumbent is Richard Hely Lynch-Blosse, 17th Bt, a general practitioner in Oxfordshire.
Reputed portraits of Sir Harry Lynch-Blosse (above) 7th Bt (1749-1788) and his nephew, Sir Robert Lynch-Blosse, 8th Bt (1784-1818) courtesy of Richard Hely Lynch-Blosse, 17th Bt, of Oxfordshire.
Lynch of Galway, Betham Sketch Pedigrees I, IV, Ms 264, National Library of Ireland, p
Lynch-Blosse, Sir Henry 7th Bt, The Peerage.
McNulty, Paul, ‘The genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who settled in Galway’,
Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, 2010, vol 62, p 30-
Nicholls, K W, ‘The Lynch Blosse Papers,’ Analecta Hibernica, 1980, vol 28, p 113-219.
Paul B. McNulty is the author of Spellbound by Sibella which has been accepted for publication as an e-book by Club Lighthouse Publishing, Canada. His debut novel deals with the turbulent liaison between Sir Harry Lynch-Blosse of Balla, Co Mayo and the stunning Sibella Cottle, a woman with spellbinding powers reputedly wrought by witchcraft. Scheduled for release this autumn, the novel is based on real events in late 18th century Ireland. For more about Paul and his fiction, connect with him on Paul B McNulty or on Facebook or Twitter.