William Henry Lyon (1854-1902)

LYON, William Henry, To this active and progressive citizen the city of Meriden is greatly indebted for its wonderful development of manufacturing industries. He is descended from one of the most ancient families of England, founded by Sir Roger de Leonne.
William’s Ancestors:
Sir Roger de Leonne, born about 1040, in France, who came into England with William the Conqueror. Some years after the conquest he rendered great service to King Edgar, of Scotland, and received as reward lands in Perthshire, where his estate was known as Glen Lyon.
His son, Paganus de Leon, or Leonibus, was born about 1080, in England, and was the father of Hugh de Leonibus.
Hugh de Leonibus, born about 1 1 20. He held lands in County Norfolk in 1175, and was living in 1194.
His son, Ernald de Leonibus, born about 1 1 50, in Norfolk, claimed one-third of a carucate of land in Kettleston in November, 1199. He was the father of John Leon.
John Leon, born about 1175, in Norfolk, owned lands in several counties.
His son, Pagan de Leon, born about 1200, in Norfolk, married Ivette de Ferrers, heiress of William de Ferrers, of Cambridgeshire, and claimed her inheritance in 1242.
His oldest son was Sir John de Lyonns, born about 1225, held lands in Northamptonshire, and performed military service to the king. He married Margery, daughter and co-heir of Simon de Ackle, of Ackle, Northampton.
John de Lyon, son of Sir John de Lyonns, was a feudal baron in 1316, and one of the lords of the township of Begbrike, was summoned to march against the Scots in 1323, and in 1335 had lands in the counties of Cambridge, Huntington and Oxford.
His eldest son, Sir Adam Lyon, Knight, of Norfolk, was a feudal baron of Forteviot, had lands in Cambridge and Norfolk.
His eldest son, Sir John Lyon, Knight, succeeded to his father’s estates in Cambridge, Northampton and Sussex.
His youngest son was Henry Lyon, born about 1355, in Norfolk, father of John Lyon.
John Lyon, of Ryslippe (Ruislippe), Middlesex. He was born about 1380, inherited lands of his father, and was living in 1448.
His eldest son, Henry Lyon, born about 1410, at Ryslippe, was living in 1479.
His eldest son, Henry Lyon, born about 1440, at Ryslippe, owned lands there in 1485, and 1509.
His eldest son, John Lyon, born about 1470, at Ryslippe, made his will November 18, 1546. He married Emma Hedde, of Ryslippe.
Their youngest son, John Lyon, born about 1 5 10, at Ryslippe, inherited the lands of his mother, and paid the subsidy in 1597. His first wife, Joan, was buried April 5, 1635.
His eldest son, William Lyon, born about 1540, resided at Stanmer, Parva, Middlesex, was described as a gentleman, was living in London in 1596, and was buried at Little Stanmer, September 7, 1624. He married Isabella, daughter of William and Awdry (Deering) Wightman, of “Harrow on the Hill.” She was co-heir with her father.
Her eldest son, William Lyon, born about 1580, at Stanmer, Parva, lived at Heston in Middlesex, and was buried at Little Stanmer, February 18, 1634. He sold lands in Norwood, in 1634. He married at “Harrow on the Hill/’ July 17, 1615, Anne Carter. Their youngest son was the earliest of the name in America.
William Lyon, son of William and Anne (Carter) Lyon, was baptized December 23, 1620, in Heston, and was buried at Roxbury, Massachusetts, May 21, 1692. When fourteen years of age he came to America in the ship “Hopewell,” which sailed September 11, 1635, and is supposed to have accompanied the family of Isaac Heath, as his name follows the names of Heath’s family in the shipping list. Isaac Heath came from Nazing, England, whence many of the settlers of Roxbury came. William Lyon settled in Roxbury, was a member of Apostle Eliot’s Church, admitted to full communion in 1655, a freeman in 1666. In 1645 he was a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston, in 1648 received a grant of six acres of land, in 1652 three acres, other lands in 165 1, 1654 and 1661, and became a large landholder of the town. He was among the “Goers” who planned the settlement of Woodstock, Connecticut, where he was assigned a lot, but did not remove thither. His home in Roxbury was on the east side of Lyon street, now Bellevue avenue, southwest of Atwood street. He married, June 17, 1646, in Roxbury, Sarah Ruggles, born April 19, 1629, in England, daughter of John and Mary (Curtis) Ruggles, of Nazing.
Their second son was Thomas Lyon, baptized August 8, 1648, in Roxbury, where he lived, and died 1734. He is described as a yeoman, was excommunicated from. Eliot’s church, September 26, 1669, but was absolved the next year. He married in Boston, March 10, 1669, Abigail Gould.
Their fourth son, Ephraim Lyon, was born January 14, 1685, in Roxbury, and died before September 27, 1720. He was a blacksmith and farmer, and a prosperous man, leaving an estate valued at f 505, 17s. and 6d. He married, June 13, 1709, Abigail Crosby, born January 6, 1691, in Billerica, Massachusetts, daughter of Simon and Hannah Crosby.
Humphrey Lyon, son of Ephraim and Abigail (Crosby) Lyon, was born in 1718, and settled in East Haddam, Connecticut, where he died December 13, 1794, at the age of seventy-six years. He became a member of the Episcopal church of that town on its organization, April 26, 1791, and donated the land on which its house of worship stood. In the record of his death he is called captain, a title derived undoubtedly from service in the militia. He married in East Haddam, April 25, 1765, Mary Bates, born 1746-47, died March 7, 1814, at the age of sixty-seven years. She joined the Congregational church of East Haddam, April 25, 1773.
Their fourth son, Charles Lyon, born January 30, baptized April 21, 1776, in East Haddam, married Lois Grimes. He was an active member of St. Stephen’s Church, of which his father was one of the founders.
Humphrey Lyon, son of Charles and Lois (Grimes) Lyon, was born December 19, 1797, in East Haddam, and was for forty years one of the most highly esteemed citizens of Meriden, Connecticut. He was reared in East Haddam, whence he removed to the State of New York in 1826, where he lived until 1847, when he removed to Meriden, Connecticut, where his son, George W. Lyon, had preceded him. He was actively engaged in business in Meriden until the infirmities of age compelled him to retire, and he died there April 13, 1887, in his ninetieth year. He was untiring in his efforts to promote the growth and welfare of the municipality, and served as selectman and tax collector. In early life he affiliated with the Democratic party, but upon the organization of the Republican party, in 1856, joined its ranks, because of his abhorrence of the wrongs of slavery. A man of strong convictions and uncompromising opinions, he was ever ready to sustain them without bitterness or rancor, and was respected for his kindness of heart. He was among the most active supporters of President Lincoln in prosecuting the War against Rebellion. At the time of his death, Mr. Lyon was one of the oldest Free Masons in the State of Connecticut, only two having preceded him, one raised in 1812, and another in 1816. He was made a Master Mason in Columbia Lodge, No. 26, of East Haddam, April 8, 1818; was a charter member and worshipful master and treasurer of Meriden Lodge, No. 77, of Meriden; was a charter member, in 1854, of Keystone Chapter, No. 27, Royal Arch Masons, of which he was high priest in the following year, and for two succeeding years; a charter member of Hamilton Council, No. 22, Royal and Select Masters, March 10, 1856, and in 1857-58 was thrice potent master. For many years he was treasurer of the chapter and council, until failing sight compelled him to decline further election to office. For the last ten years of his life he was totally blind, but was always bright and cheerful and fond of a joke. Free Masonry meant something more than mere form to him, as he believed it to be something to be lived for, and always gave it willing and loyal service. From its formation until his death, Mr. Lyon was a member of the Society of Masonic Veterans, and attended their annual meeting as long as he was able. The favorable position occupied by Free Masonry in Meriden is largely due to the unselfish life and earnest efforts of Humphrey Lyon. At an early age he joined St. Stephen’s Church of East Haddam. He married, January 8, 1821, in East Haddam, Harriet M. Canfield, of East Haddam, and they were the parents of four children: George Washington, mentioned below; Ira C, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland; William H., who died at the age of twenty-four years, and Martha Emma, now residing in Meriden.
George Washington Lyon, eldest son of Humphrey and Harriet M. (Canfield) Lyon, was born February 22, 1822, in East Haddam, and soon after attaining his majority visited Meriden on a prospecting tour. The city was then a borough of three thousand inhabitants, with energetic and public-spirited citizens. The atmosphere of civic pride resulting from this condition pleased the ambitious young man, and he accepted employment for a period of two months to enable him to prolong his visit and decide on the desirability of a permanent location. He had planned a trip to the West, but this he abandoned and decided to cast his lot with the energetic citizens of Meriden. Inside of a year he was engaged in the contracting and building business, which he began with a capital of a few hundred dollars, abetted by a will and ambition which counted for much. His business expanded rapidly, and he formed a partnership with John D. Billard, under the firm name of Lyon & Billard ; in the second year of this arrangement their pay roll included one hundred men, and they had contracts calling for the erection of twenty-seven dwelling houses at one time besides factories and other structures. The State Reform School, one of the most substantial edifices of its time, was erected by this company. Soon after their plant, on which there was no insurance, was destroyed by fire, wiping out nearly all of Mr. Lyon’s means. With undaunted determination, and with the aid of the credit which his upright and energetic course had won for him, he continued his efforts, and was soon prosperous and successful. In time he came into control of a factory which developed the Meriden Malleable Iron Company, of which he was for many years the president. This was incorporated in 1868, with a capital of seventy-five thousand dollars, which was later increased to one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, and gave employment to one hundred and fifty people. The company was formed for the purpose of making malleable iron castings, but soon gave its entire attention to the manufacture of fixtures used in burning kerosene oil, including chandeliers, brackets and lamps. Subsequently the establishment was devoted more particularly to cabinet hardware, making light articles of common use, such as casters, drop handles and draw pulls for furniture, towel racks, shelf brackets and various patented specialties. Soon after 1850, the firm of Lyon & Billard engaged in the coal and lumber business, which was carried on in addition to that of contracting, and in this business Mr. Lyon continued to be a stockholder and director until a short period before his death, which occurred April 12, 1902. He was instrumental in starting many industries and enterprises, in many of which he was a director. He was most active in organizing the Meriden Fire Insurance Company. Though never desirous of any political preferment, he served for some years as alderman, and was a prime mover in obtaining the city charter. The first meeting of citizens with this object in view was called by Levi Cole and Mr. Lyon. George W. Lyon was married, January 27, 1852, to Harriet A. Snow, of Westbrook, Connecticut, daughter of David and Matilda (Doane) Snow, of that town, and granddaughter of Joel Snow, a Revolutionary soldier. Their eldest child, Emma J. Lyon, became the wife of Dr. Charles J. Mansfield, whom she survived seven months, dying in September, 1892. William Henry, the second, receives further mention below. Charles L., the third child, was manager of the Meriden Malleable Iron Company.
William Henry Lyon, son of George Washington and Harriet A. (Snow) Lyon, was born August 11, 1854, in Meriden, where his life has been passed, and where his activities have been wide and calculated to promote the growth and prosperity of the city. Its schools supplied his education, and at an early age he began his business career in the office of the Lyon & Billard Company, of which his father was head. Here his faithfulness and efficient discharge of his duties brought rapid promotion. In 1877 he became secretary of the corporation, and in 1886 he became assistant to Dexter W. Parker, secretary and treasurer of the Charles Parker Company, succeeding Mr. Parker in those offices three years later. The Charles Parker Company transacted a very extensive business, of which Mr. Lyon had entire charge. He is also president of the Parker Clock Company, director of the First National Bank, City Savings Bank, Meriden Trust and Safe Deposit Company and Meriden Electric Light Company, all of Meriden, and the Columbia Mills, Inc., and E. W. Bliss Company, both of New York City. Of very unassuming and quiet manners, Mr. Lyon goes quietly about his business, but his efficiency is well known in business circles, and his influence is wide spread. He is devoted to his family and friends, and until recent years has refused to accept any public station. In politics he is a sincere and earnest Republican, and it is natural that his contemporaries should seek to gain the advantage of his service in directing public business. Mr. Lyon married, June 2, 1880, Annie D. Parker, daughter of Charles and Abi Lewis (Eddy) Parker, of Meriden. Mr. Parker was one of the most prominent citizens of Meriden, esteemed not only as an energetic and capable business man, but as a citizen of the highest character. Mrs. Lyon, who died December 30, 1902, was one of the most active members of the Methodist church of Meriden, and was associated with Ruth Hart Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. Elsie Parker Lyon, only child of Mr. and Mrs. Lyon, graduated from Rosemary Hall, Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1901.

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