Thomas Lyon "of Rye" was born in England about 1621, and died at Byram Neck, Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut in 1690. He was buried in the old Lyon family burying ground at Byram Neck. He is supposed to have come first to the Massachusetts Colony, and thence to have gone to seek his fortune in the far west of Fairfield County, Conn., where at about the same time Richard and Henry Lyon, presumably his brothers or cousins, appeared. His first wife was Martha Joanna Winthrop, a grand daughter of Gov. John Winthrop, of Salem, Mass., and it is to Robert C. Winthrop, a lineal descendant of the Governor that we are indebted for nearly all the circumstantial knowledge we have of the life of Thomas Lyon. He made public in a communication to the Massachusetts Historical Society, of which he was for thirty years president, a number of letters found among the papers of Governor Winthrop, written by Thomas Lyon, his wife Martha (Winthrop) Lyon, and other members of the family.
Martha's mother, Elizabeth (Fones) Winthrop remained in England when her husband, Henry Winthrop came to America. He was drowned in Salem Harbor, July 2, 1630, the day after his arrival. She, with her infant daughter, Martha, came to America the following year. She did not remain long a widow. Her second Husband was Robert Feake (Feeke, Feke, Fekes, Feeck, the name was variously written), one of the earliest proprietors in Watertown, which he repeatedly represented in the Massachusetts General Court. After some years Mr. Feake removed with his family to Greenwich, Conn., where in 1640 he, with Capt. Daniel Patrick, purchased of the Indians a large tract of land. It appears that about this time he developed symptoms of a derangement of mind which ended in complete insanity. There may or may not have been estrangement between man and wife; at all events Mr. Feake returned to Watertown, leaving his family in charge of his business partner, Capt. Patrick. The gossips had it that the relations between Capt. Patrick and Mrs. Feake were more intimate that business required. However, these relations, whatever may have their nature, were brought to an abrupt close in 1643 by the death by assassination of Capt. Patrick. Mrs. Feake and her daughter continued to live in Connecticut (in the town of Stamford), her business affairs being intrusted now to one William Hallett. At this juncture Thomas Lyon comes on the stage and assays the difficult role of son-in-law.
The first of the letters of Thomas Lyon made public by Mr. Winthrop was written at this time.
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His first wife, as has already been noted, was Martha Johanna Winthrop, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Fones Winthrop, and grand daughter of Hon. John Winthrop, Governor of the Colony of Massachusetts in 1629, 1630, 1637, 1642, and 1646. She was born in Groton Manor, England, May 9, 1630, and died Stamford, Conn., probably about 1653. In 1652 Thomas Lyon bought a house and lot in Stamford of William Potter. It is probable that his wife Martha, was still living at that time. May 11, 1654, he purchased of Thomas Shervington a house and lot at Fairfield, and this fixes the date of his second marriage. This house he sold Nov. 1, 1675 to Daniel Frost, and on Feb. 13, 1676 he, with John Banks, Sr., of "Fayrefield" acquired title to a "sartaine parsell of land in Greenwich, lying by Byram River and by estimation three score ackers." It is recorded that previous to this "the towne had granted unto Mr. John Banks, senior, of Fayrefield, as Thomas Lyon's attorney, a sartaine parcell of land lying in Greenwich on the lower end of Byram neck, by estimation three hundred ackers." It was this land, "Elizabeth Neck," that was later claimed by daughter of Martha (Winthrop) Lyon, Mrs. Mary (Lyon) Wilson, as rightfully her inheritance. Into the merits of note that in the original deed "by Amogerone Sachem of Asamuck and Rammatthone [and] Nawhorone, sachems of Patomuck, to Robert Feaks and Daniel Patricks" of Greenwich lands, Elizabeth Neck "by ye Indians called Mona Kewego" is expressly excepted "which neck is ye particular perchance of Elizabeth Feaks, ye sd Robert Feaks his wife, to be hers and her heaires of assigns forever."
This item is from the Town Record of Rye, under date March 5, 1676: "The Towne of Rye adopted the following. Thomas Lyon and Thomas Brown are appointed to choose a house or place to be fortified for the safety of the towne." Mr. Winthrop says that it is believed that it was this Thomas Lyon who served as a colonial soldier from Connecticut and remarks that his expressions in the letter of Aug 25, 1647 in relation to his possible death would tend to confirm that theory. In Schenk's History of Fairfield we find the following statement: The soldiers engaged in the Pequot war of 1637-8, who afterwards settled at Fairfield were: Roger Ludlow, Thoams Lyon, Dr. Thomas Pell of Saybrook, John Wood, James Eggleston, Thomas Basset, Nehemiah Olmstead, Samuel Gregory, William Hayden, Richard Osborne.
No authority for the statement is quoted. If the record is authentic we must conclude either that Thomas was a mere boy when he joined the force sent to chastise the Pequots, or that he was of unusually mature age when he married Martha Johanna Winthrop-or else that there were two Thomases. The last alternative is worthy of consideration, although there is nothing in the Winthrop correspondence to bear out such a hypothesis. We know that there was a Thomas Lyon who was killed in the battle at Turners Falls, 1667. Savage supposed that it was Thomas of Fairfield and Rye. It is possible that it was the Thomas of the Pequot war, if there were any such Thomas.
The early settlers of Stamford came from Watertown, Dorchester, and other places near Boston, at first by way of Wethersfield. Is it not more that possible that the Thomas Lyon who in 1647 is of Stamford, with acquaintances in the vicinity of Boston, was related to Peter and George Lyon of Dorchester-possibly a brother? The question is merely suggested. It may be possible some day to answer it authoritatively in the affirmative of negative.
Thomas Lyon married for his second wife, about 1654, Mary Hoyt, daughter of Simon Hoyt, of Stamford, Conn., by whom he had four sons and four daughters.
During the latter years of his life Thomas Lyon, although living probably in Greenwich at Byram Neck, is spoken of as "of Rye," this place being just on the other side of Byram river in New York-the place now being called Port Chester. In a list of inhabitants of Rye in 1683, the name Thomas Lyon appears twice repeated- father and son no doubt. The names Lyons Point, written also Lions Point, applied to the point of Byram river, was in common use as early as 1683.
The will of Thomas Lyon was dated Dec. 6, 1829, and probated at Fairfield with inventory of estate, September 7, 1690.
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Children of Thomas and Martha Johanna (Winthrop) Lyon:
I. _________; d. In infancy.
II. Mary [Marle]; b. Aug. 1649; d. Before 1713; m. John Willson
Children of Thomas and Mary (Hoyt) Lyon
III. Abigail; b. About 1654-5; d. Before 1713; m. John Banks.
IV. John; d. 1736; m._______.
V. Thomas; d. 1739; m. Abigail Ogden.
VI. Samuel; d. About 1713; unm.
VII. Joseph; b. 1677; d. Feb 21, 1761; m. Sarah ________.
VIII. Elizabeth; d. Before Nov. 1713; m. John Marshall.
IX. Deborah; m. _______ Cone.
X. Sarah; m. ________ Merritt.
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