Lyons Family French Huguenots - does you family share this story?

+8 votes

My Lyons family has been in the mountains of Virginia for a very long time. However, the proverbial brick wall goes up around 1800. All my growing up years I thought, along with most of the extended family, that we were French. My grandfather said we had been Huguenots, but not all branches share that story. The story has always been that we were silk weavers in France, went to Ireland for a few generations, where we continued weaving cloth, before coming to America.

Then the world wide web era came and we "learned" that we are Irish. Period. I reason that there must be some truth to the family story, otherwise it would not have persisted for so many generations.

Do any other Lyons/Lyon families share this story?

in The Tree House by Susan Wilson G2G6 (9.2k points)
Hi, I have a (quite confused) family tree on ancestry.   My mother was  Lyons and some earlier ancestors were known as Lyon.  A gentleman on here called Rick Heiser from USA contacted me as he had connected me with family in Virginia going back to the Civil War.  I'm very intrigued by this but afraid I can't get enough time to investigate this fully.

It's interesting to see this post again after three years. My family research has not gone much further than it was when I started this post.

Like me, Annette, you have a Wilson father and Lyon/Lyons mother. By the way, I have seen the two variations of Lyon/Lyons used interchangeably, so that is of no concern.

There are a lot of Lyons families in the state of Virginia, and even in the area where my family is from, which at one time was fairly isolated, there are unrelated branches.

If you have some information to share on the Virginia family, do you mind sharing a link, either here of privately?

4 Answers

+5 votes

It could have French origins if you go far enough back in time.

Last name: Lyons

Recorded as Leo, Leon, Lion, Lyon and Lyons, this is usually an English, but Scottish or Irish surname, although in most cases is ultimately of early French origins. Introduced into the British Isles after the Norman Conquest of 1066, it has a number of possible sources. Firstly, it may be a locational name from either the town of Lyons, in central France, recorded in the 1st century b.c. as "Lugdunum", and thought to be from Gaullic elements meaning "raven hill, or more likely from the smaller place called Lyons-la-Foret in the province of Eure in Normandy. Secondly, it may be a nickname for a fierce or brave warrior, (or perhaps the reverse) from the Old French word "lion" itself from the Roman "leo", meaning a lion. The surname may also derive from the given name "Leo", again from the Latin, and borne by numerous early martyrs and thirteen popes. On the Continent the given name was always relatively popular because the lion was the symbol of the evangelist St. Mark. In some instances the surname may be of Irish origin, and a form of the Gaelic O'Laighin, translating as the male descendant of Laighin, a byname meaning spear or javelin. The surname has no less than ten coats of arms granted to it, and six major entries in the British "Dictionary of National Biography". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Azor de Lions. This was dated 1159, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Norfolk, during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2016

Read more:


by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.7m points)

Thank you Frank Gill. Family lore, which of course may be based on assumption, says the name came from our origins in Lyon, France. I  had forgotten to add this bit of information.

I have the Lyon line via Joanna Lyon who married Joseph Prudden who is my 7ggrandmother.  They (I think) the ancestors of President George W Bush.  I do show these Lyons as coming from Glen Lyon, England a couple of generations earlier but I haven't checked to see if WikiTree goes back any farther.

It's a common name, much more than I had once thought. Like Frank Gill has pointed out, there are many families from many locations who bear the name Lyons, Lyon, or some variation, and for many different reasons. I saw just a few days ago that President GHW Bush has a Lyon ancestor. How fortunate for you to find a link to your line, Dave Dardinger!

I have just found the surname "Lion" in a list of Huguenot surnames of "Foreign Refugees who settled in Great Britain and Ireland (1643 - 1714):

I got the link to this information here:

It proves nothing, but provides encouragement to continue my research. Now the real work begins!

+4 votes

Yes we think our background is similar.

If you have used dna testing check out Gedmatch which is a tool for comparing dna from different companies, here are ours:

M003357 Jean Lyons
M394427 Helena Williams
M561957 Jean Lyons

Robin Lyons

Thank you, Helena. I did a comparison with my GedMatch #M512933. There was no match, but maybe the connection is too far back.
+4 votes

Susan Wilson, I have seen the name Lyons on Wikitree but none that seemed to be "mine", until your post.  You said mountains of KY and your stories of English and Ireland, etc. follow my line.  I am a direct descendant of John Lyons, First Lord of Strathsmore and kings Horn. Follow back to Glamis Castle, Scotland and John Lyon, 1st Lo rd of Glamis Castle.  The story my mom researched years ago, he was awarded land for his loyalty to William the Conquer, 1066.  This is the common ancestor to current Queen Elizabeth of England. I have never charted this because I have not worked out the kinks.  And the story line is what my mother found and also a distant cousin of her, found. It isn't my research.   My great grandmother was Mary Alice Lyons from Carter County KY.  You can follow the John Lyon 4th Earl of Strathsmore, and back etc. on familysearch.  It is not my entry but matches what my mother had.  oh... before William the Conquer, they were from Lyon, France. 

Follow my line on familysearch Mary Lyons 1875-1967, William Butler Lyons, Levi Lyons, James Lyons, William S Lyons and Magdelen Corbin ....  (this was the brick wall for years..... ) Then jumping to Alexander Lyons and the names I gave you above).

by Sharon DiLuvio G2G6 Mach 1 (18.8k points)
edited by Sharon DiLuvio

Thank you, Sharon. I plan to get back to researching my Lyons family before long. 

Do you have any idea if your Lyons ancestors came thru Colonial Virginia?

Thanks, Susan

William Lyon  1700 Culpepper, VA.  Check out my tree on familysearch.  It picks up with the "world tree" that I did not personally submit but, it seems to be right according to the information I had.  Be sure to VERIFY. never hurts my feelings for someone to tell me I am wrong.
i am stuck on verifying an Italian line and a German line, so I haven't gone on the Lyons line anytime recently.

Queen Elizabeth name is Lyons ... Elizabeth Bowes-LyonQueen Consort of the United Kingdom: 

I had noticed many years ago that the Queen Mum and my own mum shared the same name, minus the s, but with all the Lyons' in the world I never expected a  relationship.

Can you pm me a link to your tree? Thanks.

PM sent .....
My mom said there was a long article in the Charleston, WV newspaper about her cousin tracing his line to Queen Elizabeth.  That would have been about 1949.  But, I never found the artile and that would not prove anything.  Just that someone said they had traced it.  It was a cousin of my mother's and not a close connection to him.  The Lyons around Huntington and Charleston, WV and KY are related.
+3 votes
Dear Susan,

My grandma was a Lyons & I've found family history hinting that they were Irish Palatines:French Huguenots & German people who emigrated to England & then Ireland at the invitation of Queen Anne. Many Irish Palatines later came to the British American colonies.

So your Lyons ancestors may have also taken that same path-originally French Huguenots & then living in Ireland. My Lyons family were British Loyalists, as were many of the Irish Palatines. They went to Upper Canada-now Ontario- following the Revolutionary War.

I know for sure that my Lyons ancestors married Huguenots & they were all British Loyalists,  but I haven't yet found the clear link showing they came here through Ireland.

Good luck in your search!


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