Rev James Lynch

Scope and Content

Journal (incomplete). Opening pages give overview of his pre missionary life. Entries begin on 1 January [1814] having just left St Helens and end on 31 December 1814 with Lynch reflecting on his life and work. Rear of volume contains note on journey (recording latitude and longitude), allowances provided to missionaries, tonnage allowed to India, salaries of Company officers, notes on religious observance and letters written & received in 1814. 168 pages.

File of correspondence (originals and copies) written and received by James Lynch between 1814 and 1856. Most letters are received by him from, amongst others, W[illia]m Ault, George Erskine, B[enjamin] Clough, W Harwood, J Tristleton, S[amuel] Leigh, E Hunter, A Walter, Mary Gay, W[illia]m Gay, W[illia]m Graham, S Godfrey and members of the Lynch family (Sarah, Samuel & Hugh).

Copy of a letter by Adam Clarke to the General Committee of the Wesleyan Missionary Society which appeared in the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Magazine for 1821. James Lynch suggests that the editors of the 'Watchman' might like to publish the letter as well. Letter originally appears in the dedication to his 'Clavis Biblica' and Clarke praises the work of those employed in foreign missions and gives a brief overview of the work they have undertaken so far. c1821. 4 pages.

'Third Report of the Madras Auxiliary Wesleyan-Methodist Missionary Society: with a list of subscribers'. Printed, 1822. 26 pages.

Financial papers compiled by John Huntley on 30 November 1823 for the Madras District. Includes expenses for light, tea and servants between 1819 and 1823 as well as a record of collections made with subscriptions paid for the same period. 5 pages.

Draft manuscript (with corrections and annotations), by an unnamed author who spent 57 years in Ireland, on the current reforms within the Church of Rome and how these are just attempts to destroy the Protestant faith. Cites, amongst other sources, the articles of the Council of Trinity in his argument. c1850. [filmed with Clarke material by mistake - see FBN 23, fiche 1000].

Brief note by Lynch on the increase in WMMS missions up to 1849. With later annotations - in a different hand - for up to 1856. 2 pages.

Manuscript entitled 'Memoirs of Rev Jas Lynch by Sam[ue]l Allen'. Contains biographical information and recollections. Annotated on back 'Given to JR by his son who had found it among Mr A's papers. 1878'. 21 pages.

Note on the establishment of the Wesleyan Methodist mission to Ceylon [Sri Lanka] and its relationship with the colonial authorities, undated. 2 pages.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Lynch was born into a Roman Catholic family in the parish of Muff, County Donegal, Ireland, in about 1775. He converted to Methodism when he was about seventeen and entered into the Wesleyan Methodist Ministry in Ireland in 1808. He spent five years working in circuits in the north of Ireland and was one of the missionaries offered by the Irish Methodist Conference to assist Rev Dr Thomas Coke with his planned mission to Asia.

Lynch set sail aboard the 'Lady Melville' with some of his colleagues (others sailed with Coke aboard the 'Cabalva') on 31 December 1813. Unfortunately Coke died on route leaving Lynch, as the most senior of the missionaries and with the willing support of his colleagues, to take charge (later confirmed by the missionary committee in London). They landed at Galle in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] on 29 June 1814. After their arrival the missionaries agreed to assign stations by lot with Lynch drawing Jaffna (along with Thomas Squance) with the two men arriving in mid August. Lynch and Squance began preaching in the Dutch Church at Jaffna Fort, mainly to soldiers and colonists, opened a school and laid the foundations for a successful mission. Throughout his tenure as a missionary Lynch continued to stress the importance of education in mission work, particularly through the establishment of mission schools.

As early as 1815 requests for a missionary to serve in Madras [Chennai] had been received. By 1817 the missionaries in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] agreed the need to send a missionary was pressing and it Lynch was dispatched. Lynch established a mission in Madras [Chennai] preaching his first sermon in a warehouse at Black Town [George Town] on 2 March 1817 (in 1822 the site become a Methodist chapel). Lynch's lack of Tamil meant that his efforts were restricted mainly to those of European descent. In March 1819 Lynch founded the first Methodist chapel on Indian soil (at Royapettah) and in the same year became the superintendent of the Tamil district (which incorporated the missions in the north of Ceylon [Sri Lanka] and the south of India). In 1820 the Negapatam mission began (with Squance being appointed to serve there) with later the same year a mission commencing in Bangalore and soon after that in Trichinopoly (all garrison towns).

From 1817 financial problems arose and by 1821 they had deteriorated sufficiently for the committee in London to censure Lynch. Lynch offered his resignation but his synod insisted he remain and gave him their full support. By 1824 the mission committee's attitude and criticism had softened but in July Lynch left Madras for good: in part as a result of his experiences and in part due to health concerns. Not long after his departure the Tamil District was divided into two separate districts: one centred on Madras [Chennai], the other on Jaffna.

Lynch returned to working in Ireland, including in Lisburn in County Antrim, Strasbane in County Tyrone, Irvinestown in County Fermanagh and Newry in County Down (where physical infirmities forced him to become a supernumerary in 1842). He relocated to Leeds in 1845 and died there on 21 March 1858.

Further reading:

Centenary Committee of the Wesleyan Methodist Synod in Madras, James Lynch (1911);

Findlay & Holdsworth, The History of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (vol V, 1924);

Small, W T J, History of the Methodist Church in Ceylon 1814-1964;

Taggart, N W, The Irish in World Methodism, 1760-1900 (1986).

Access Information

Only to be viewed on microfiche


Archivist's Note


Related Material

Also within the records of the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society is the official correspondence for James Lynch whilst in both Ceylon [ Sri Lanka] (MMS/Ceylon/Correspondence/FBN 1) and India (MMS/India/Correspondence/Madras/FBN 20). Further information on Lynch's work, as well as the work of his colleagues, will be contained in the Tamil District Synod Minutes (MMS/Ceylon/Synod Minutes/FBN 1 & MMS/India/Synod Minutes/FBN 1).

An image of Lynch can be found within MMS/Ceylon/Photographs/Box 1198 (file 1).