Table of Contents
of the Hunt — for Ancestors!
|UPDATE (25 May 2010): Y-DNA testing has proven that Richard
LYON and Henry
LYON were closely related. Rather surprisingly, it also appears
LYON of Roxbury is closely related to them, while Thomas
LYON of Rye is not. At last, some solid evidence on the relationships
of these four men!
A new LYON-DNA mailing list has been created at RootsWeb for discussion of DNA testing with regard to the genealogy of surname LYON (and any of its spelling variations). You do not have to be a member of the Lyon(s) DNA project at FamilyTreeDNA or the Lyon Group at Ancestry-DNA to belong to the mailing list. Anyone interested in the topic is welcome to join:
|Family Group Sheet of Henry LYON & Elizabeth BATEMAN|
|The scope of this section of my web site will be limited to:
My motivation in creating this site stems from the fact that there is so much unsupported secondary information in circulation about the genealogy of Henry LYON and his supposed siblings, yet very little in the way of published documentation. It is my intention to supply here as much documented evidence as I can gather to support — or in some cases disprove — the "legends" surrounding this family.
And if it sounds arrogant of me to propose that I be the one to embark on such a task, especially considering that the genealogy of this family has been actively researched for at least a century, it is only that I am able to begin where earlier workers left off and that I have a computer, a large personal library, and all the other modern resources at my disposal, along with the research skills of a graduate level education. I would never have had the fortitude and dedication required to have done genealogy "the old-fashioned way," so gratitude and a commendation for the efforts of past workers is certainly due. On the other hand, I do wish some of them had held themselves to a more rigorous standard of scholarship because, once an error — or "tall tale" — is in print, it never dies.
|Please note that the following discussions are preliminary and are
based on what sources I could find on the web (as of this writing, in 1998)
and in my (extensive) collection of genealogical books, microfilms, and
CDs. With regard to historical items, I need to borrow/buy books
that are more scholarly and dependable sources, which will take time; I
will update these entries as I do.
I post these preliminary discussions mainly as a cautionary to expose the weaknesses of the currently accepted "legends" in the hopes that others will not continue to blindly accept and promulgate them and that you might want to assist in the search for the truth. Any documentation you wish to share will be posted for the use of all, with your contribution fully credited.
I might as well state, upfront, that I believe many of our problems with the genealogy of Henry Lyon stem from the uncritical scholarship and wishful romanticizing of Sidney Elizabeth Lyon in her 1907 Lyon Memorial. And in support of this contention, I quote Sidney, herself:
The great irony is that, if you can trace your ancestry back far enough, we all have interesting, illustrious ancestors — along with a few black sheep. And more often than not, the truth turns out to be far more interesting than the fiction.
|To quote the tearful young Tonya Komorov, whom General Yevgraf had
asked if she didn't
want to believe she was the lost daughter of
"Yes, of course I do, but not if it isn't true."
|Quoting further the words of Albert Brown Lyon, in this case from the
Preface of Lyon Memorial I: Massachusetts Families (1905):
|The first legend to be examined is the one naming Glen Lyon, Perthshire,
Scotland, as the birthplace of Henry and his supposed siblings.
It is absolutely critical to know whether this assertion is true because,
if it isn't, we are looking in the wrong place for their parents.
And, to begin with, as far as I can tell, there is not one piece of documentation
to support any birthplace for Henry, Richard, or Thomas LYON, nor is their
any evidence to document that they were, in fact, brothers.
We simply do not know where they were born. Nor do we know,
for a fact, that they were brothers or even that they were related.
Update (25 May 2010): Y-DNA testing now conclusively demonstrates that Richard, Henry, and William of Roxbury (originally of Heston, Middlesex, England — not Scotland) — are closely related genetically, while Thomas of Rye is not remotely related to them, but rather to a Lyon with roots in France.
|The three "brothers" are said by some sources to be of the line of
LYONs that was ancestral to the Queen Mother of Britain, Elizabeth
Angela Marguerite BOWES-LYON. It is not surprising that her LYON
ancestry is well documented and well known. However, as the parents
of the three "brothers" are unknown, it is premature to suggest a link
to the Queen Mum's LYON line.
Based on reliable sources, I have so far been able to trace the ancestry of the Queen Mum only as far as Sir John LYON (-1382) of Glamis, Forfarshire, the husband of Lady Jean STUART (c1350-), granddaughter of Robert "The Bruce," King of Scotland. There are other sources, of unknown reliability, tracing this line as far back as Ingelram DE LIONS / DE LIOUNS, said to have come to England with William the Conqueror in 1066, an unproven claim. It's amazing how tenacious is the desire to have ancestors who arrived with the Conqueror and how many have made the claim with no foundation. For an authoritative list of "companions of the Conqueror," please see this page.
|It is usually claimed that the three "brothers" immigrated from the Old World to Connecticut in 1648 or 1649. This assertion is almost certainly untrue. These dates are not from ships' passenger lists; these are dates of first appearance of their names in the records of New Haven Colony. We simply do not know when they made the crossing, where they arrived, or from whence they came. And there is nothing to establish that they came together.|
|In 1662, the King made New Haven Colony part of the more liberal Connecticut
Colony, much against the will of the New Haven colonists. In response,
many ardent Puritans began making plans to leave Connecticut.
In 1667, a contingent of families from Milford, CT, including Henry LYON and his family, arrived at and founded a town on the Passaic River in the Province of New Jersey, which town they named New Milford. The name was shortly changed to New Ark (now Newark). Henry LYON was first Treasurer of the city of Newark, NJ, and thus one of its founders.
This part of the legend is true and documented.
|It is interesting to note that there is evidence of a Richard
LYON in Cambridge, MA, as early as 1640. He assisted Henry DUNSTER,
President of Harvard College, in his editing of a second, 1647 edition
of a translation of the psalms commonly referred to as the "Bay Psalm
Book," the first book printed in North America (1640, Cambridge).
Given the classical education required to edit a translation of the psalms,
we can surmise that this Richard was not only of a social class that would
allow for such an education, but that he was most likely a generation older
than the three "brothers," which means he could have been their father
or uncle. However, no connection has been proven.
The close association between Henry DUNSTER and John WINTHROP, Governor of Massachusetts, suggests that this Richard LYON might be somehow related to Thomas LYON, who married a granddaughter of Gov. WINTHROP, which means they had to have been moving in the same social circles.
On the other hand, this Richard LYON is said to have returned to England, so he may have no genealogical connection to any American LYON.
|If Henry LYON and his "brothers" were in Massachusetts Colony before 1640, then they came to America as teenagers, most likely in the company of their parents. If we want to find their parents, we should begin by looking in Massachusetts, not Britain.|
|With regard to the legend that the three "brothers" were soldiers in
Cromwell's army and witnessed the execution of Charles I outside Whitehall
Palace, London, on 30 Jan 1648/9...
There is no way to prove this legend. Official government records were kept only of officers; there are no lists of common soldiers. Short of the existence of a first-hand account of the event written by one of the "brothers" (e.g., in a letter or diary) — which record no one has ever even suggested exists — there is nothing to substantiate the tale.
The fact that Richard LYON left a backsword* in his will has been taken to mean he had seen military service, but it is not proof of when or where, or even if, he served. He may have inherited the sword from his father or some other relative or may simply have purchased it. They were, after all, living in the wilderness surrounded by Amerindians; it would have been prudent to have weapons.
However, there are ways to disprove the legend...
If the record that Henry LYON received three acres of land in 1639 in Milford, CT, is correct, then Henry had left England at least ten years before the execution.
Martha WINTHROP came to New England as an infant with her widowed mother ca. 1630; therefore, Thomas LYON had to have married Martha WINTHROP in America. If the record showing their second child to have been born in Aug 1649 is correct, then they had to have been married no later than Jan 1648, which means Thomas, too, had left England before the execution.
*My Webster's unabridged gives these applicable definitions for "backsword":
1. a sword with one sharp edge; broadsword.
2. in England, a stick with a basket handle used in fencing...
Webster defines "broadsword" as:
a sword with a broad blade and a cutting edge.
Richard's sword has been called a "rapier" by some, but Webster's definition
of rapier shows it not to be equivalent to a backsword:
If Richard's sword was a fencing weapon, then it is more indicative that he was a gentleman than that he was a soldier. I'm inclined to think "backsword" was meant in the sense of "broadsword," not "rapier," but unless that sword was passed down in the family and someone still has it, we'll never know.
There is a LYON pedigree circulating that is, in my opinion, totally bogus. Please do not accept or circulate this pedigree without at least first reading my discussion of the reasons I believe it to be false.
|In the trivia department, Barbara
(PIERCE) BUSH, wife of President George Herbert Walker BUSH, is a descendant
of Henry LYON, on this line:
Henry LYON & Elizabeth BATEMAN
|"The Cloud" is double-speak for "dumb terminal
on a main frame." Been there; done that. Never again.
You are giving away not only your privacy, but control of your data, your apps, and your computer to a corporation. Is that really where you want to go?
The IT guys on the big iron hated the Personal Computer because it gave users freedom and power; now they've conned you into being back under their control again.
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