Lynn - Lynde

Evidence suggesting that, in one family, the surname Lynn and its variants
evolved from the surname de Lynde from Lynde, France
and was established first in England and later in Scotland

Revised : 20 March 2014
Copyright 2012, 2014 : Loretta Lynn Layman


Y-DNA Results Phylogeny Home Ancestors 1850 U.S. Census

The following discussion has not been proven by the DNA.

As discussed on the home page of this website, the surname Lynn (etc.) has several completely different origins and even more variant spellings, with some families appearing with two or more different spellings in different records.  One family - that which likely produced the Lynns of northwest Ulster - is Lynn of that Ilk in Dalry, Ayrshire, Scotland.

The Lynns of that Ilk are found in a series of documents spanning three centuries with no less than four different forms of the family name (seven in the entire record).  We know these documents all relate to the same family because they involve transactions between the Lynns of that Ilk and the Hunters of Hunterston concerning a particular Ayrshire property owned by the Lynns but conveyed or confirmed to the Hunters every time the heir in either family changed.  The documents are among the Hunter family papers preserved in the Hunter charter chest.1/  The earliest Lynn document in the chest is dated 1452 A.D. and the latest 1669.  Three additional spellings of the surname for this particular family appear in documents outside the Hunter papers,2/ and their entire record spans five centuries.  The seven spellings by which the Lynns of that Ilk are found are Lin, Lind, Linn, Lyn, Lyne, Lynn, and Lynne (the spelling "Lind" found only once for this particular family; a "y" used predominantly in the balance of the record).  Such was the nature of spelling in centuries gone by.

Certain forebears of the Lynns of that Ilk were reported in 1795 by Sir Robert Douglas, Baronet and author of the "Peerage of Scotland", in his book "The Genealogy of the Family of Lind, and the Montgomeries of Smithton".3/  Although Douglas does not provide a complete lineage for the family, he wrote that they first appear in Scotland in the borders in 1207 with Robert de Lynne, who witnessed a gift to the monastery of Kelso.  Douglas does provide an important example of the "flexibility", if you will, of the spelling of the family name, by documenting a branch of the Lynns of that Ilk which settled on the spelling Lind.  This branch is particularly notable since, for the Lynns of that Ilk, it points to the possible origin of the surname Lynn and its variants.

The family of Lind is also noted briefly in a volume published anonymously in London in 1874: "Lind, from Lynde, near Lille and Hazebrook [Hazebrouck], Flanders [now France].  The family of De la Lynde was seated in Dorset [England] at an early date."4/  Perhaps it is no wonder, then, if one branch of the Lynns of that Ilk chose to use the spelling Lind.

It should be mentioned that there is a village in France named La Lynde, which is south of Paris and far removed from Flanders.  On its face, this fact may suggest that La Lynde, and not Lynde, was the origin of this family of Lynns and Linds.  However, the use of the article "la" does not necessarily signify a place which includes "La" as part of its formal name.  The question may be one of semantics.  For example, Alsace is a region of France often referred to as "the Alsace".  Was the language "De la Lynde", meaning "of the Lynde", a similar expression in use when the name first appeared?  Another family, recorded in England as both "Delahill" and "De Heille", is reported as being "from Heilles near Beauvais"; Heilles is in the French region of Picardie, which once included Flanders and shares a border with Normandy.

There is an additional paper source claiming that the village of Lynde in Flanders was the place which produced this particular family (although it may have been authored by the same person as the 1874 source referenced above).  An 1889 volume published by the Duchess of Cleveland5/ includes a great deal of text which precisely quotes the 1874 volume.  The 1889 volume enlarges on the older text, noting particularly that Robert de la Lynde was a Dorsetshire landowner in 1165 A.D.

While the question of Lynde vs. La Lynde is by no means settled - neither by the historical record nor by scientific evidence - DNA does have something to say concerning two possibly significant, small clusters of R-U198 men other than Lynns.  One group includes five men with origins in the southwest of England, very near to Dorset.  The other group consists of just two men, one of whom is believed to have origins in Flanders and the other just twenty miles away in Belgium.  Flanders was once an independent state but later divided between France and Belgium.  In any case, it must be reiterated, in the strongest terms possible, that this is not proof certain that the Lynns of that Ilk originated in Lynde, Flanders.  However, it is something to watch as more men with origins in these places enter the DNA database.

In the meantime, one questionable belief relating to the origins of the Lynns of that Ilk must be corrected in this discussion.  In my book "Lynneage - the Lynns, Linns, and Linds of Scotland and Ulster", I took the position prematurely that there was strong evidence for the family being Norman.  That position was based in part on the historical record described above but also on the fact that the Lynns of that Ilk had inherited their Dalry property from the highly reputed Norman family of de Morville.  Furthermore, I took what was then known about my family's R-U198 DNA as additional evidence of a Norman connection.  However, at the time of writing, I was ignorant of two crucial facts. 

First, the common belief that Normans all had Norse ancestry is ill-founded.  When the Vikings invaded and gained control of the region of France which came to be known as Normandy, they did not simply displace the indigenous population, nor did the existing inhabitants routinely form unions with the Norse invaders.  In fact, DNA studies of continental Europe indicate that the predominant Scandinavian Y-DNA haplogroup is rarely found in the region of France that includes Normandy.

Second, not everyone who came to Britain with William the Conqueror was actually from Normandy; instead, some came from neighboring Flanders.  Thus, there is no reason to believe that R-U198 men - Lynns or others - were of Norse blood.  As pointed out in John Sloan's discussion of R-U198, there is a distinct absence of our haplogroup among Scandinavian men who have been DNA tested.6/

To read more about the Lynns of that Ilk: Lynn of that Ilk

To read more about the Lynns of Northwest Ulster: Lynns of Londonderry Donegal Tyrone

1/  Some Family Papers of the Hunters of Hunterston, Edit. M. S. Shaw, W. S., Edinburgh (1925). 

2/  Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland Preserved in Her Majesty’s Public Record Office, Vol. II, Edit. Joseph Bain, F.S.A. Scot., London (1884)

History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton, Vol. III - Cuninghame, James Paterson, Edinburgh (1866)

History of the County of Ayr: With a Genealogical Account of the Families of Ayrshire, Vols. I and II, James Paterson, Edinburgh (1847, 1852)

Memorials of the Montgomeries Earls of Eglinton, William Fraser, Edinburgh (1859)

Protocol Book of Gavin Ros, N.P., 1512-1532, Edit. Rev. John Anderson, Curator of the Historical Department, H.M. General Register House, and Francis J. Grant, W.S., Edinburgh (1908)

A Topographical Account of the District of Cunningham, Ayrshire. Compiled About the Year 1600 by Mr. Timothy Pont, The Maitland Club, Glasgow (1858)

3/  The Genealogy of the Family of Lind, and the Montgomeries of Smithton, Sir Robert Douglas, Baronet, Windsor (1795): pp. 1-3. 

4/  The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States of America, Anonymous, Pub. Henry S. King & Co., London (1874)

5/  Battle Abbey Roll. With Some Account of the Norman Lineages, Vol. I, The Duchess of Cleveland, London (1889) 



Y-DNA Results Phylogeny Home Ancestors 1850 U.S. Census