Lynch -- folk etymology

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Mon Jul 22 05:38:36 UTC 2002

> The explanation I remember:  Judge Lynch (first name not remembered,
> or perhaps not given) was Irish.  He condemned his own son to hanging
> for murder -- and when no one else would carry out the sentence, he
> did so himself.

Tradition has it that Mayor James Lynch Fitzstephen of Galway, Ireland
allegedly hanged his own son for a murder in 1493. This incident (if true)
has no apparent etymological connection to the verb "to lynch." The first
appearance of the word is over 300 years later in the US. I am sure there
are other Lynches from various places and times who had something to do with
a hanging and also failed to lend their name to posterity.

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