COLONEL JAMES LYNAH'S GRANDFATHER'S LETTER CONCERNING LIFE OF DR. JAMES LYNAH
Notices of my paternal ancestors, as derived from my Grand father, Dr. James Lynah, and from my father, Edward Lynah.
I was in my 16th year when my Grandfather died in Charleston, corner of Meeting and Queen Streets. He bore the reputation of a fine Surgeon and Physician; and in a practice of more forty years, grew rich. He was seventy-four at the time of his death of consumption, produced by an accidental Catarrh, taken at one of the great conflagrations in Charleston, where he worked, and exerted himself with the vigor of a young man.
As I lived much with him and loved him dearly, my recollections are perfect of his features, dress, habits, and manners up to this day. His face was noble and beautiful. He could strictly be classed as among the gentlemen of the old school. The antique style of dress was typified in his person. His stature was low but of perfect symmetry and of great strength. He powdered and wore a long queue of very fine hair now in my possession. Shorts, with black or white stockings and gold buckles. A full suit of black silk in Summer; and a rich velvet in winter, were his invariable habiliments---a charming smile and a happy jest always went along with him so that he inspired cheerfulness everywhere. He enjoyed high popularity; being a citizen active in public as well as private benevolences. As a Mason, he was ever conspicuous, in doing good---maintaining regularly the spirit of that noble brotherhood who placed him in their highest office.
He was a native of Dublin, Ireland, where he received his Collegiate education, and received his diploma of M.D. He was married and commissioned a Surgeon in the British Service. While cruising off the West India Islands in a frigate, the vessel wrecked; when many of the crew and some officers perished before being rescued. The survivors were taken into Kingston nearly naked. My Grandfather having made himself known to a Masonic Lodge in that Town, was instantly taken under their care.
Hearing from them that there was a good opening for a professional man on the “Plantations”, as the Carolinas and Georgia were than designated, he left the British service and received an outfit of Surgical instruments and 50 Guineas. He sailed for and landed in Charleston somewhere about the year 1765 or 1766.
After a scrutiny he was advised that the Country Parish presented the best opening for a newcomer. Then, quitting Charleston, he finally selected and established himself in St. Stephens Parish, in a wealthy and respectable Huguenot settlement, where indigo was then largely cultivated by the Gailliards, Porchers, Marions, Ravenels and other good families. In an interesting memoir from the pen of Mr. Samuel Du Bosque of St. Stephens Parish published in 1858, Dr. James Lynah is thus alluded to: “South of the road was the residence of Dr. James Lynah, a native of Ireland, from this place he attended to a large medical practice. Both this place and that of Mr. Couturia, was constitute, a portion of Belle Isle”----
The above fact I had from my Grandfather, and that he was neighbor to General Marion, when a firm and lasting friendship grew between them. He soon engaged in extensive practice--his rides traversing the adjoining Parishes of St. John, Berkley and Goose Creek, even as far as Richland---Surgeons were scarce in those days. At this period, his wife, and two children, my father Edward Lynah being one of them, came over to him from Ireland.
When the Revolutionary War of 1776 broke out, he served at intervals with Marion's Partisan Corps; and subsequently placed my Father, then a youth, under General Marion's especial care. As the war progressed, my Grandfather received two appointments as Surgeon in the service of the State of South Carolina---First in Colonel Joseph Maybanks' Berkley County Regiment of Cavalry dated 4th December 1776. Secondly, in Colonel Daniel Horry's Cavalry, “as chief Surgeon of the Regiment of Light Dragoons.” This commission by the old Governor John Rutledge dated 22nd April 1776 in the 3rd year of the war---both papers above mentioned are in my possession at this writing. In this capacity he was with Colonel Horry and Count Pulaski at the siege of Savannah---and there present on the field when the disastrous assault was made on the Town by the Cavalry, in which Pulaski was wounded. My Grandfather and my Father, then acting as Surgeon's Mate, a youth of 18 and a faithful negro servant named Guy, lifted and brought the Count out of the range of fire---and on the open field my Grandfather extracted the bullet, that caused his death several days afterwards, when the Count was on board the French fleet and attended by their Surgeons. The bullet and a note from an Aide de Camp of Pulaski, are now in my possession.
At the close of the War, my Grandfather removed from St. Stephens Parish and went to the City of Charleston---and bought a fine brick mansion at the corner of Meeting and Queen Streets; where he also kept his office---In that house I was born on the night of September 13, 1793; After a long and lucrative practice, and a life of remarkable healthfulness, he died in the month of October 1809 when his remains were taken to Laurel Spring Plantation and there buried near the Elliotts, my Mother's relatives.
At the time of his death he held the commission of Surgeon General of the State of South Carolina.
My father Edward Lynah inherited his fortune, but although skilled in Physic and Surgery had always preferred the pursuit of Agriculture--so he lived and died a Planter at the ripe age of 76, leaving five children of which I am the eldest.
He had a constitution of great vigor and endurance. His remains lie in the graveyard of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hasell Street, Charleston, near those of my mother his first wife Elizabeth Sanders Rose---Their remains are enclosed within the Southeast gable of the said church.
Written at Chestnut Hill near the City of Philadelphia, while staying with my daughter Susan Lynah Norris, October 10th 1866.
(Copy of a biography of my Great great great Grandfather, James Lynah, written by his grandson, James Lynah, who was my Great Grandfather,
Henrietta Lynah Glover.
(Mrs. S. A. White).)