SOME NEW WORLD LYONS
Information from a Book by the American Lyon Association
Henry, Thomas and Richard Lyon, Lyons of Glen Lyon in Perthshire, soldiers in Cromwell’s army, were on guard before the Banqueting House at Whitehall on 30th January 1648, and they witnessed the execution of Charles I. A tremendous reaction followed the regicide, and many a Puritan and Covenant patriot of the insurgent army disappeared from London in the confusion of the horror of the days the headless corpse of the Monarch remained at St. James Palace, till it was deposited in the vaults of the Chapel at Windsor. The King was dead, Long live the King! After an interaum of a few tomorrows another Stuart would come to the throne, and the years of his regent-ruled minority would be a sorry reckoning for those who bore arms against his discrowned and dishonoured sire.
The Scots never acted as an integral body. Every Clan was an independent force that withdrew at the discretion of its chieftain. The three Lyon brothers from Glen Lyon, took advantage of a national privilege. They had kinsmen in Middlesex and Norfolk counties who may have kept them in concealment pending a departure of a ship for the Colonies across the sea. Over there they had kindred in the new Fatherland of Freemen.
It is a rational supposition that Henry, Thomas and Richard Lyon landed at New Haven. There lived John Lyne of Badby, Northamptonshire, England, one of that opulent company of two hundred fifty persons who came from London on the ship "Hector" 12th January 1638, with Theophilus Eaton and Edward Hopkins as their directors and the Puritan Divine, John Davenport, as their spiritual guide, to an independent colony on the Connecticut Coast. And when the Plantation Covenant was signed, 4th June 1638, John Lyne affixed his signature among names that became historic when the story of New England was told. They were an anti-Monarchal people strongly in sympathy with the Parliamentarian party, to their hospitable protection came the Regicides, Goffe and Whalley, in later troublous times. The young Scots from Perthshire were sure of a welcome. Their news was waited for in every town and settlement. But it would be detailed in whispers behind barred doors. Other Lyon emigrants had proceeded the three who stood beneath the scaffold at Whitehall, when the second executioner, the grey-beard mask, lifted the bleeding head and announced, "this is the head of a traitor".
Colonel John Lyon of the Scottish Guards of Henry IV. of France, had a son William Lyon, who was denounced as a heretic at the time of the massacre of St. Batholemew, 1572. He escaped to Hollond, and finally came to America with his three children. The next to come to a remote world were the orphan sons of William and Anne Lyon of Heston, in Middlesex County, England. John Lyon, the eldest, aged 18 years, came in the Ship "Hopewell", Captain Babb, 12th February 1634. The following year his brother, William Lyon aged 14 years, came in the "Hopewell", September 1635. John Lyne of New Haven from Badby, Northamptonshire, England, is the fourth on record. With him was his son, Henry Lyne or Lyon. Henry Lyon married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Harrison of West Kirby, Cheshire, England, the same Richard Harrison who removed from New Haven to Branford, and came with the Branford Colony to Newark, New Jersey 1666, as one of its founders. Elizabeth Harrison, widow of Henry Lyon became the third wife of Mr John Morris, who was one of the signers of the New Haven Plantation Covenant, and he was one of the Milford Colony that planted Newark. On 18th June 1668, he and his wife were appointed guardians of Hopestill Lyne, a minor. In the New Jersey archives is a certificate, "that Hopestill Lyne of New Haven, 6 to 7 years old, the daughter of Henry Lyne of New Haven, the son of John Lyne of Badby, Northamptonshire, which Henry died 4th January 1662, and had a child Hopestill by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Harrison of West Kirby, Cheshire, England, is still alive, as sworn to by Richard Harrison, Thomas Johnston, William Meeker and Ellen Johnston".
Henry Lyne doubtless spelled his name Lyon. The sixth on the list of emigrants, is John Lyon, who was at Salem from 1638 to 1648. The seventh is Peter Lyon, probably from Middlesex, England, who was at Dorchester, as a proprietor, 1638, was a freeman 1649 and died before 1694. Then came another English Lyon, Thomas Lyon from Yorkshire, who appeared on Byram River 1640, antedating the advent in that locality of the Scotch Thomas Lyon by thirty-three years. The ninth is Richard Lyon of Cambridge, who was sent from England by Sir Henry Mildmay as a tutor for his son William, at Harvard 1644. He was co-ajutor of President Demster in improving the New England version of the Psalms. Another John Lyon was at Marblehead 1648. In 1648 came Henry, Thomas and Richard Lyon, Lyons of Glen Lyon. The last of the list is George Lyon of Dorchester 1666, a freeman 1669. In 1678 he joined the church at Milton, Mass. He may have been a brother of Peter Lyon of Dorchester.
There may be duplications in the roll of first-comers, and the identity of others lost in the mystery of meagre information. I have found no trace of the descendants of William Lyon, the heretic son of Colonel John Lyon of the Scottish Guards of Henry IV. of France. But there may be those in the female line who will make themselves known. John Lyon of Salem, 1638-48, may be the John Lyon of Heston who came in the "Hopewell", 1635, and Thomas Lyon of Yorkshire, who, it is said, was at Byram Point in 1640, may have been confused with the Thomas Lyon of Fairfield, whose immediate descendants were so much in evidence from the "Liberty of North Castle", around Byram Point, and along the River and in the White Plains, "named for the balsam which grew there". This asserted early arrival of the Lyon family at either side of the Connecticut and New York line.
Baird states this date is years too early. The late Mr R M Lush made extensive Lyon research. He left his notes and papers to the Westchester Co. New York, His. Soc., but they have never been classified. Mr Lush a descendant of Thomas Lyon of Fairfield, who was familiar with every foot of the district occupied by these pioneers, said the claim that Thomas Lyon and John Banks voyaged to their new possessions in a row boat, 1649 was now rejected by the Lyon families identified with that locality. A small water vehicle was an inadequate means of transportation for a large party. Thomas Lyon had a wife and children, and some of his children were adults. The year before the transplanting of the household, his daughter, Abigail had married John Banks at Stamford, a wedding that occurred on 3rd April 1672, for Mr Lush places the date of the emiragtion as 1673. Perhaps, too there were other families from Fairfield and from Stamford, a goodly company that travelled through a pleasant land, with their chattels and flocks and herds. He left considerable estate behind him, as he shared in all the land divisions of Fairfield Township after 1654. However on 1st November 1675 he sold his home lot to Daniel Frost, but he retained the rest of his realty. At the time of his death he was a large land holder at Fairfield and Greenwich, and he owned the Mill at Rye, and several acres of land at White Plains. Both Thomas Lyon and his son Thomas, were among the inhabitants of Rye in 1683. Lyon’s Point, a promontory on the east side of Byram River, extending out into Long Island Sound, now a part of Port Chester, was named for the elder Thomas Lyon. Baird, Mead and Bolton all agree that the Lyon families from Fairfield were Scots, a belief that has never been questioned by the descendants of Thomas, Richard and Henry Lyon, the emigrants.
The will of Thomas Lyon is dated 6th December 1689. He appointed his wife, Mary Lyon, executrix and his sons, John and Samuel executors of his estate. John, the eldest son, as if by right of primogeniture, was given a double portion of the estate. The Mill at Rye, and several acres of land at White Plains. Thomas (2) was given the home lot on the Byram River, other lands and the weaver’s loom. Samuel received several pieces of land at Greenwich, Joseph received his fathers dwelling house, barn and home lot on the northward part of the orchard, and a pasture on the eastward side of a big highway that goes into the Neck, all his rights and privileges in all divided and undivided lands at Greenwich, Rye and Fairfield. His five daughters, Mary, Abigail, Elizabeth, Deborah and Sarah, were given portions in money, he also remembered his grandson, Thomas, son of Lyon.
John Lyon, son of Thomas (1), increased his estate at Rye. On 27th February 1698-9, at a meeting of the proprietors of the town, it was agreed "that we doe impower the afoesaid men (Hecaliah Brown, Deliverance Brown, John Merritt, Robert Bloomer and John Stockham) to bargain with and sell unto John Lyon a certain tract of land lying up Byram River, if they shall see good and convenient soe to doe", and to John Lyon was confirmed "a parcel of land lying against the Mill Creek between the cartway down into the Neck and the Mill Creek bounded up the said Creek by John Hoit’s meddow and to run down the said Creek till it comes to John Boyd’s meddow provided the said John Lyon doe not praidice the catway into the Neck, nor the way to the Mill, neither shall hee hinder any person from settin up thare field fence if they have occasion". Another record that concerns John Lyon it dated Rye 20th September 1697. "At a town meeting Capt.Theall, John Horton, Joseph Purdy, Hecaliah Brown, John Lyon, Thomas Merrit and Isaac Denman, are chosen as a Committee for the Management and carrying on of the worke of building a meeting house for the town of Ry, and also for the appointing of a place where it shall set, and the above meeting house shall not acsed above thirty square feet". The seating space of this place of worship speaks for the size of the congregation, which doubtless comprised every family in the settlement.
The undivided White Plains Purchase was under the watchful protection of the men of Rye, in April 1699, "John Lyon and Isaac Denman were chosen to laye out a road to White Plains, beginning at the head of Capt. Theal’s land and so to run to the caseway(causeway) brook. "On the 17th of that month it is on record that, "The town hath past an act that the Rode shall continue ..Up to the White Plains, where John Lyon and Isaac Denman have marked it out, and the said road shall be 3 rods in breadth".
John Lyon was living at Greenwich in 1710. He had a son Thomas, who was mentioned in the will of his grandfather, Thomas Lyon,Sen. and a son John Jr., who married a widow, had a mill on Blind Brook Creek, 1719. This was the grist mill mentioned in the Royal Patent for Budd’s Neck (Rye). The patent was subsequently divided among the following proprietors, James Gadney, 102 acres, Daniel Purdy, drummer of Rye, 40 acres, John Carpenter, a portion joining Mamaroneck River, Mr William Broweness of Rye, 2 acres, that portion called the gusset to Jos. Ogden, a second of 30 acres to Joseph Lyon, Daniel Purdy, 3 acres, Monmouth Hart 15 acres, James Wood 5 acres, Archibald Tilford 18 acres, the residue to John Budd.
John Lyon was the ancestor of the Lyons of North Castle. Among the North Castle Lyons was Capt. Roger Lyon of the Westchester Militia, and Capt. Gilbert Lyon of the Continental Army.
Richard Lyon, emigrant and soldier in Cromwell’s army, from Glen Lyon in Perthshire, Scotland, appeared at Fairfield, Conn. as early as 1648, the year of the regicide. His house and home lot of 2 acres, was recorded January 1653, he was made freeman 1664, the year that his brother Henry returned to Milford. In 1673, the that his brother Thomas went to Byram River, he received 5 acres of land at Barlow Plains and sixteen and a half acres on the Rocks was granted to him for a building plot, bounded N.W and N.E by the highway. Five years later he died, the first of the three brothers to go to another afar New World, a world Celestial, none of the three destined ever to return to their "ain contrie". From the tenor of his will, dated 12th April 1678, it is surmised that Margaret Lyon was his second wife, and that he had two sets of children, Moses, Richard (2) a minor, William and Hester forming one group, and Joseph and Samuel (both minors) forming another. It would appear that he had little faith in the staying qualities of Margaret’s grief, when he discriminated against her by giving her only a widowhood tenure in his estate. She must have been young and comely, and to leave her a free simple portion was making wedding gift to her second husband. However, there is no record at Fairfield to disclose that she relinquished her dower to assume another name. To son Moses he gave one third of the length of the homeward side of his land at Pequonock, one fifth the length of the long lot on the S.W side of the lands, his gun, his rapier, his biggest pewter platter and confirmed lands already given to his son.
Richard (2), when of age, was to have one-third of the Pequonock land, 150 acres of the length of the long lot East of Moses part, and other lands, William received one-third of the land at Pequonock, one-fifth of the length of the long lot east of Richard(2)’s share, other lands, his long gun, back sword and belt. (This is another evidence that in Colonial wills children are not mentioned in sequence of birth). To his wife, Margaret Lyon, Richard (1) gave 60 pounds, his house and home lot, while she remained unmarried, and the use of Joseph’s and Samuel’s land during their minority. Samuel and Joseph were to have the homestead when they came of age and one-fifth of the long lot was to be divided between them. Hester, the eldest daughter, wife of Nathaniel Perry, received 4 pounds, and her husband and her son Joseph Perry, were to have 3 pounds in carting and plowing. Three minor daughters, Betty, Hannah and Abigail, were to have 4 pounds each when they came of age. A cousin Mary Fitch, was remembered with a gift of 7 pounds, and each portion of his estates was entailed on the survivors, if any child died.
Richard had been at Fairfield twenty-seven years, and was probably born 1623. Mosses (2), son of Richard (1) Lyon, died before 1696. He had a wife Mary. The baptism of no child of his appears on the Fairfield Parish Records.
Richard (2), son of Richard (1) Lyon, had Samuel, Ebenezer and Sarah baptised 5th April 1696, Daniel 3rd October 1699 and 1703 and Jonathan, 1st June 1708. William (2), son of Richard (1) Lyon had Nathaniel baptised 9th September 1694, William (3) 16th February 1698, Benjamin 8th September 1700, Eunice baptised 1st September 1716 and Tabitha 22nd January 1720 were probably children of William (3).
Samuel (2), son of Richard (1) Lyon of Fairfield and Greenfield Hill had a wife, Susanna, he had Samuel, James, John and Margaret baptised 12th March 1704, Abigail 12th May 1706, Ephraim 27th September 1708, Anne 6th August 1710, Jeremiah April 1713.
Joseph (2) son of Richard (1) Lyon, had a wife Mary nee Jackson. He had Joseph, baptised 28th July 1695, David 27th June 1697. This family set-at Pequonock, Greenfield Hill and Green Farms.
Ephraim (3) Lyon, baptised 27th September 1708 son of Samuel Lyon and grandson of Richard (1) Lyon. He had a son Ephraim, born 1737, who was a soldier in the War of Independence. Later this second Ephraim was a lawyer in the town of Ashford, Conn. He married Esther Bennett and died 1798. Among the nine children of Ephraim and Esther Lyon was Amasa Lyon born 19th November 1771, died 11th April 1842, he married Keziah Knowlton and among their nine children was Nathaniel Lyon (General Nathaniel Lyon) born 14th July 1818, who died at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri 10th August 1861. Dr Woodward, in his Life of General Lyon, states that Ephraim Lyon of Ashford was the third Ephraim in lineal descent, but does not trace his lineage more definitely, although he states that he was of Scotch descent. He served 5th May to 1st November 1758 under Capt. Jedediah Fay of Ashford in the French and Indian War. He married in Ashford in 1762, wife Esther Bennett, the births of his nine children are recorded in Ashford, indicating continuous residence there from 1763 to 1784, and he died there 1798. There were living in Ashford descendants of William Lyon of Roxbury, it is natural to suppose that Ephraim was also of that family, and this the Woodstock Lyons firmly believe. It is hardly possible that the Ephraim Lyon of Fairfield, wife Ann Adams, appointed Lieutenant in a company of Militia in North Fairfield in May 1774 (Conn. Colonial Rec) and who was a militia Captain, called out in the New Haven alarm July 1779 was the Ephraim of Ashford.
During the American Civil War, Sidney S Lyon, Major of Engineers, the father of the writer, made the acquaintance of Gen. Nathaniel Lyon. Their name called for genealogical exchanges and kinship was established. Each had the identical tradition, viz; Three brothers Lyons of Glen Lyon in Perthshire, Scotland, at the time of the Civil War of England were soldiers in Cromwell’s army. The day of the execution of Charles I. these three were on guard at the scaffold before the Banqueting House at Whitehall on 30th January 1648 and witnessed the regicide, immediately after the execution they fled to the colonies. One brother settled in Connecticut, one went to New York and the third removed to New Jersey. Dr Woodward, who some years ago wrote the "Life of General Nathaniel Lyon" must have obtained from a brother or a sister of the dead soldier that the Ashfold Lyon family was descended from Scottish ancestry. A belief is entertained that Thomas, Richard and Henry Lyon descended in a direct line from the Master of Glamis. Douglas’s Peerage gives but one son of Sir Thomas Lyon, John Lyon of Auldbar, who served as heir 6th August 1608 and died without issue, he may have had sons and grandsons of whom no record is preserved, soldiers who were slain in the Civil War or fled into life time exile beyond the sea. But there were other branches of the Lyon family of Scotland.
When John Lyon, eighth Lord Glamis made an entail of his estates of Glamis, Towndyce and Baky in Forfarshire, Cullen, Buttergask, Longforgard and Inchture in Perthshire, Bellelvic, Ardendracht, Collistown, Coustertown and Drumgowen in Aberdeenshire, besides himself and the male heirs of his body, he gave those eligible through lineage, as Thomas Lyon, his brother John Lyon of Haltowen of Esse, James Lyon of Easter Ogill, John Lyon of Culwalogy and the male heirs of their bodies respectively, which failing, to own nearest heirs male, whatsoever bearing the name and arms of Lyon, by Charter dated 23rd April 1567. This was but eighty-one years before Thomas, Richard and Henry Lyon appeared in Connecticut in 1648. They belonged to one of these five families descended from John de Lyon, Feudal Baron of Fortevoit, but the name of their Scottish ancestor is lost out of tradition. But such research as has gone into the compilation of the "Lyon Memorial" may disclose the names that will connect the New World Lyons of New England,New York and New Jersey, with the Old World Lyons of England and Scotland.
To return to the third of the Lyon brothers from Glen Lyon, Henry Lyon, to outline his eighteen years in New England. In 1639 a company of religious disputants, a split-off from Wethersfield Church, joined with a few families from other places, fifty-four souls in all, brought a tract of land down on the coast of Long Island Sound, and planted Milford. Thomas Tibabls, who tradition says, led the party through the Connecticut wilderness, selected a favourable site and the new settlement was destined to become a sea-port. Ships, after a long ocean voyage came up the Sound and dropped anchor in the safe harbour below the Mill dam, to land home-seekers and supplies and after a time a ship industry added to the property of the hamlet, and sloops were built for the long-shore traffic.
It is not positively known just who were the first comers at Wepowang. Lambert’s "History of New Haven County" gives a list of Milford Planters, with numbers of home lots attached said to have been made 29th November 1639. There are sixty-six names on the list, but there are no records at Milford to bear out the impression this would give that the Company from Wethersfield and neighbourhood settlements was several hundred strong, an unmarried man was a suspicious stranger and the annual baby did more for the Connecticut census than the emigrant additions to the population. Of the fifty-four souls that trudged through the wilderness to the new purchase, two-thirds of the foot-tired travellers were women and children.
Lambert’s List gives Henry Lyon number 26 from a total of 66. Lambert’s list was certainly made from the town plan drawn at a subsequent period. The men that bought Wepowang and took possession of their purchase in August, were not keeping a town Book in November. Cabin-building, Stockade-building and how to provide for the nearing winter were the only matters that engaged these work weary folk in an Indian Land. The original records have been sacredly preserved, and the present Town Book is an accurate transcription from the worn, time-browned records begun in 1649, which is the earliest date shown on any Milford document, outside of the Church records, a positive proof that a Town Book was a long-felt want before a book appropriate for this purpose was obtained. Newark could not procure a book to record lands and town expenses for several years after the Paaiac Settlement was planted, which was fully thirty years after the first Wepowang cabin was under roof. The cost was great, and money scarce and these London-bound volumes were not to be had by every hamlet within a months journey of Boston.
Someone may have had an ink-horn, geese were common fowl, and quills were the pens of long ago, but the fly-leaf of a bible was perhaps the only bit of paper at hand to serve as a register of marriages, births and deaths. Each man stepped off his own town lot, so many paces to the acre and established his own lines by witness trees till Robert Treat, the young surveyor, got the leisure to inspect imaginary metes and bounds and drove corner stakes, as witness stones, for the several planters who need be none too particular if his homestead tract contained more than 200 square rods. They were so few and as far as the eye could reach was theirs. When William Fowler built a grist mill on the banks of the little river he was given thirty acres of land and perpetual use of the stream. And why not, in this miles wide country that God had given to the chosen of Isreal, just as he gave Caanan to the hosts of Moses.
The General Court, 24th November 1640, changed the name of the settlement to Milford, a befitting designation when mills were few and far between. Then it was a decent superedence of an ungodly Indian appellation. To this growing community, in 1648 came Henry Lyon, one of the three brothers from Glen Lyon. He was a young man, born perhaps about 1625. When he came to die in 1703, he had minor children and his will excites no suspicion of approaching senility. A generous and cordial welcome must have been accorded to the stranger Scot, a Round-head soldier. He brought the verification of the rumour of terrible happenings at home and the tales he told to his breathless listeners tremendous.