Thomas Lynch Jr.
Family LifeAmerican Founding Father Thomas Lynch Jr., the only son of Thomas Lynch Sr., was born on August 5, 1749 at Hopeswee Plantation in Winyah, Prince Georges Parish. Thomas Lynch Sr., a prosperous, influential rice planter, was passionate about colonial affairs of state. The Lynch family owned land along the Wando River in Christ Church Parish, and Thomas Lynch Sr.’s mother Sabina lived there until her death in 1741.
Thomas Lynch Jr. was properly prepared in the tradition of South Carolina’s wealthy planter class. He excelled in his early studies at the Indigo Society School in Prince Georges Parish. In 1764, he traveled to London to study at Eton College followed by Cambridge University, and finally law at Middle Temple. According to Rev. Charles A. Goodrich in Lives of the Signers of the Declaration (1856), around 1772, Lynch Jr. returned to South Carolina as a highly refined gentleman of sound character. Goodrich wrote: “He returned an eminently accomplished man; in his manners graceful and insinuating, and with a mind enriched with abundant stores of knowledge, justly the pride of his father, and an ornament to the society in which he was destined to move.”
Lynch Jr. decided against practicing law as a profession. He married Elizabeth Shubrick and settled into life as a local politician and planter. As a wedding gift, Lynch Sr. gave the young couple Peach Tree Plantation located in St. James Parish. Between 1774 and 1776, Lynch Jr. served in the first and second provincial congresses while Lynch Sr. attended the Continental Congress. In 1775, the younger Lynch was appointed a captain in the South Carolina regiment of provincial regulars. During this regiment’s first march to Charleston, Lynch Jr. was struck by a disease that nearly killed him. Tragically, this illness left the young, brilliant Lynch in a debilitated state until his death.
While in Philadelphia for the Continental Congress, Lynch Sr. had a stroke and it was assumed he would die. Hence, Lynch Jr., still suffering from his own illness, was appointed to the Continental Congress to succeed his father. He traveled to Philadelphia and cared for his father while attending congress. Lynch Jr. signed the Declaration of Independence. Together, they left for South Carolina, but Lynch Sr. died in Annapolis. In 1779, with the hope of recovering his own health, Lynch Jr. (30) and his wife Elizabeth left for South France. Sadly, the ship was lost, and the young couple perished at sea. Though Thomas Lynch Jr. was not the first of the signers to die, he was the youngest at the time of death.
Bibliographic Summary: U. S. National Park Service, Signers of the Declaration: Biographical Sketches, <www.nps.gov>, s.v. “Thomas Lynch Jr.” (accessed 06/ 10/11]; Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence (New York: William Reed & Co., 1856), 443-447, available at Colonial Hall, <www.colonial.com>, (accessed 06/ 05/11).