HISTORY:  Thomas Lynch Jr., signer of the Declaration of Independence

S.C. Encyclopedia  |  Born on August 5, 1749, in Prince George Winyah Parish, Thomas Lynch Jr. was the only son of Thomas Lynch, Sr. (ca. 1727–1776), and Elizabeth Allston. He attended the Indigo Society School in Georgetown and then traveled to England to pursue his education. There, he enrolled at Eton and then Caius College, Cambridge. Lynch also read law at the Middle Temple in London.

Lynch Jr.

After his return to South Carolina in 1772, Lynch abandoned law to become a planter at Peach Tree Plantation in St. James Santee Parish. On May 14, 1772, he married Elizabeth Shubrick, daughter of Thomas Shubrick and Sarah Motte. At his father’s urging, Lynch soon thereafter entered public life. He served in the First and Second Provincial Congresses of South Carolina (1774–1776), on the constitutional committee of South Carolina (1776), and in the first General Assembly (1776). In June 1775 Lynch received a commission as captain in the First South Carolina Regiment. While recruiting in North Carolina in July 1775, Lynch contracted a fever that left him in poor health for the remainder of his brief life. With his company he served at Fort Johnson from September 1775 until his election to the Second Continental Congress in March 1776.

Lynch’s father had been elected to the First Continental Congress in 1774 but suffered a stroke in early 1776 that left him unable to perform his public duties. The younger Lynch joined his father in Philadelphia and presented his credentials to Congress on April 24. Only twenty-six years old and the second-youngest member of Congress, Thomas Lynch, Jr., was the fifty-second signer of the Declaration of Independence. His father was too ill to sign. Thomas Jr.’s own poor health precluded his continued service in the Congress. Together, father and son left Philadelphia in December 1776 to return to South Carolina, but the senior Lynch died during the trip.

In ill health, Thomas Lynch, Jr., retired to his plantation. He represented St. James Santee Parish in the second (1776–1778) General Assembly. He was reelected in 1779, but his declining health prevented him from completing his full term. On December 17, 1779, in an attempt to regain his health, Lynch and his wife set sail for the south of France. Their ship was lost at sea en route to the West Indies.

— Excerpted from an entry by Alexis Jones Helsley.  This entry hasn’t been updated since 2006.  To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia, published in 2006 by USC Press. (Information used by permission.) 


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