Hugh Linn

Hugh Linn (1753 - 1815)

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Hugh Linn
Born in Dunmacmay, County Tyrone, Irelandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Son of and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married in Ulster, Irelandmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Concord, Franklin County, Pennsylvaniamap
Profile last modified | Created 4 Jul 2014
This page has been accessed 828 times.



Two of Hugh Linn's 4th-great-grandsons, each descended through a different son of Hugh, have had Y-DNA tests at FamilyTreeDNA and match in 405 out of 408 Y-STRs. Their tests place them in the relatively uncommon Y-DNA haplogroup R-U198 and further identify them as having the downstream SNP JFS3028. In addition, they have Y-DNA matches with 7 other R-U198 Lynns/Linns who are distantly related, and the total number and kinds of mutations that have occurred in the 9 men's respective branches suggest that the most recent shared Lynn/Linn ancestor of all 9 lived in the 13th century.[1]


The report of Hugh Linn's birth place as Newry, County Down first came from the book "A History of a Fragment of the Clan Linn" by Hugh's great-grandson, Dr. George Wilds Linn. While Dr. Linn's book has been an invaluable help to Linn and Widney genealogists, it is not without error. The very title of the book is historically inaccurate as the Linns were not a clan, nor even a sept or associated family of a clan, but a lowland Scottish family of a decidedly non-Gaelic heritage. Only since the renewed interest in Scotland inspired by Queen Victoria have the Linns (and certain other lowland Scottish families) been associated in the public mind with clans.

In the introduction to his 1905 book, Dr. Linn wrote: "The data on which this book rests are to be found in a series of notes made by the author more than forty years ago as they were dictated to him by his grandparents, Hugh Linn 2nd and his wife, Ann (Widney) Linn, both of them at that time eighty years of age."[2] Hugh Linn was just three when the family emigrated from Ireland, and two questions arise. First, were his recollections of the family origins in Ireland entirely accurate? Second, how much of Dr. Linn's account is verbatim from his grandfather's recollections and how much simply surmised from his notes? Again, the very picture of Scottish clans is a mere romantic idea removed from historic reality.

What of Dr. Linn’s account of the family's journey from their last home in Ireland to board ship at Londonderry? The account relates that the family passed the church spires of Newry, Emyvale, and Aughnacloy and then arrived at Londonderry.[3] It does not say where they got on the coach to make that journey, and we are left to consider the area’s known geography. The town of Newry lies in Newry Parish, which – as relatively few people realize – is divided between Counties Armagh and Down; and the church spires of Newry, sitting high on a hill, are visible for miles in all directions. The family could just as easily have boarded the coach somewhere in the southern tip of County Armagh, or even in County Louth, and gone up the highway on the west of Newry. Indeed, persons living in or on the east side of Newry typically would have traveled the shorter route of 38 miles to the port of Belfast while the Linns traveled at least 92 miles to Londonderry. Why? Was it to bid farewell to relatives along the way, or just to glance once more at an older family home? It is now proven from original deeds that the home of Sarah Widney, wife of Hugh Linn, was in Killymurry in the northern tip of County Monaghan - less than two miles from Emyvale and 33 miles north of Newry.[4], [5], [6], [7]

How does that compare to what Dr. Linn wrote about Sarah’s family?

While Dr. Linn wrote that Hugh’s family was from Newry, County Down, he also wrote that Sarah’s great-grandfather Widney had accompanied William of Orange of Holland to Ireland and, for his services at the Battle of the Boyne, was granted “a considerable estate in County Tyrone, which was handed down to his descendants”.[8] However, not one occurrence of the name Widney (or any variant spelling) is found in County Tyrone while there are no less than seven records of the Widneys in County Monaghan. Several in particular reveal that at least four generations of the family, between 1724 and 1784, made their home in Killymurry, which lies about two miles inside County Monaghan from Tyrone.[9]

Dr. Linn also wrote that the Widneys had come to Ireland from Holland, a claim which can only be taken as a supposition derived from their ancestor’s support of William of Orange. The truth is that William was supported at the Boyne not only by his own Dutch army but also by English and Scottish troops as well as "Ulster Protestant irregulars".[10] Furthermore, Widney is a decidedly Scottish surname originating in Aberdeenshire.[11][12]

Believing, however, that the Widneys were Dutch, Dr. Linn wrote further that they were Methodists precisely because they came from Holland, a bastion of the arminian view of scripture.[13] Dr. Linn apparently was unaware of at least two facts. One is that the Widneys were Presbyterian before they became Methodist. The first James Widney, great-grandfather of Sarah (Widney) Linn, was one of four Commissioners who in 1713 petitioned the Presbyterian Church in Ireland for the establishment of a separate congregation for certain members of the congregation of Kinaird, Presbytery of Monaghan.[14] The request was granted, and a new Presbyterian church was built in the village of Glaslough, which is less than four miles from Killymurry. The other fact which likely had not come to Dr. Linn’s attention is that Methodism arrived in Ireland in the 18th century and came to County Monaghan in 1766, in which place it gained many converts, including the Widneys.[15]

What do these new revelations mean for the birth place of Hugh Linn? First, of course, it means that Dr. Linn’s belief that Hugh was born in Newry, County Down cannot be taken at face value and must be proven; and proof has not been found. Second, it is far more likely that Hugh would have been at least living, and possibly born, much nearer to the home where Sarah Widney was living while still single. Since Dr. Linn mistakenly believed that the Widneys were from County Tyrone while records prove they were from Monaghan, perhaps it was in fact the Linns who were from Tyrone. Is there any proof of such an origin?

Parish vestry minutes for Aghaloo, County Tyrone, along with Ireland's Registry of Deeds, proves that a family of Linns held part of the townland of Dunmacmay in County Tyrone - less than two miles north of Killymurry - from 1706 or earlier until 1793 or later.[16][17] Both the Linns of Dunmacmay and the Widneys of Killymurry were associated with John Erwin and Thomas Donaldson - those names appearing in deeds for both families; and both families’ deeds were witnessed and/or registered in Glaslough, roughly four miles southeast of Killymurry.

In 1766, when Hugh was 13, three men named Lyn or Lynn (common variants used interchangeably with Linn) were listed in the Religious Census of Ireland as living in Aghaloo Parish, County Tyrone, which parish shares its southern border with the County Monaghan parish where Killymurry is found : John, George, and Hugh.[18] As proven by a 1752 deed for Dunmacmay, George was the only son of John.[19] Thus, the 1766 Hugh Lynn very likely was the father of Hugh Linn the subject hereof. As noted by Dr. Linn, Hugh Linn was born in 1753 and married into the Widney family [of Killymurry] in 1777.

See Also

The following site's lengthy account discusses some of the documents and records mentioned here but also includes a number of relevant Irish deeds and records not here ...


  2. : Linn, Dr. George Wilds : "History of a Fragment of the Clan Linn" (1905), pp. 10-11, 22-23, 28, 68-69
  3. : Linn, Ibid., p. 35
  4. : 1744 Memorial of 1724 Deed for Killymurry
  5. : 1744 Memorial Transcript
  6. : 1784 Deed for Killymurry
  7. : 1784 Deed Transcript
  8. : Linn, Ibid., p. 29
  9. : History of the Widneys of Killymurry
  10. : New World Encyclopedia : Battle of the Boyne (see "Armies")
  11. : GENUKI Description of Udny Parish
  13. : Linn, Ibid., p. 75
  14. : The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland : “Records of the General Synod of Ulster, from 1691 to 1820”, Vol. I. 1691-1720, Belfast (1890), p. 298
  15. : Crookshank, C. H., M.A. : "History of Methodism in Ireland", Vol. I, "Wesley and His Times", London (1886) : p. 195
  16. Marshall, John J., M.A., M.R.S.A.I., : Vestry Book of the Parish of Aghalow (Caledon, Co. Tyrone), 1691-1807, Dungannon, Ireland (1935)
  17. Republic of Ireland Registry of Deeds : Book 76, p. 289; Book 121, p. 254; Book 143, p. 162; Book 300, p. 568
  18. : Name Search at PRONI : deselect all but 1766 and search for (1) Lyn and (2) Lynn
  19. Republic of Ireland Registry of Deeds : Book 158, pp. 185-6


  • Media: Personal Correspondence Wilbur J. "Johnny" Weight Publication: 703 SW Charleston Avenue, Lee's Summit, Missouri 64081-2470 (, 1998

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Gravestone of Hugh Linn
Gravestone of Hugh Linn

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On 11 Aug 2017 at 14:08 GMT Loretta (Lynn) Layman wrote:

Linn-1039 and Linn-443 appear to represent the same person because: They have the same name, same dates, and same wife. There is some difference in specific places. Linn-443 has a more specific place of death, Concord being in Path Valley. While Hugh and Sarah lived part of their married life somewhere near Newry, which lies partly in County Down and partly in County Armagh, Hugh's family was in County Tyrone and Sarah's in County Monaghan (just two miles apart) at the time they married.

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