Lot 4
  • 4

Thomas Lynch, Jr., Signer of the Declaration from South Carolina

100,000 - 150,000 USD
212,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Document signed in full ("Thomas Lynch Junr"), on behalf of his father, Thomas Lynch, Sr., then a South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia
  • Paper, Ink
Printed document, accomplished in a clerical hand, 1 page (5 1/4 x 7 3/4 in.; 132 x 196 mm), probably cut from a larger sheet printed with the same formula, Charles Town, 22 August 1775, acknowleding receipt of £4,200: "Received Charles Town August 22d. 1775. of  Thomas Farr, jun. Esq; Clerk of the Commons House of Assembly of the Colony of South-Carolina, Eight four Certificates, numbered 2288 to 2371, both inclusive amounting to Four thousand two hundred Pounds Currency signed by him, by Order of the said House, being the Amount of so much granted me by the General Assembly [foregoing accomplishment careted in above ruled-through printed text "my Demands against the Publick, as audited to December 31st, 1775]. For my Father Thomas Lynch Esqr," numbered "279" upper right; two small stains in left margin.


South Carolina State Archives (ordered to be sold by the General Assembly of South Carolina in 1938 for not less than $3,000 and sent to New York for auction [presumably at Anderson Galleries, which had sold a similarly deaccessioned Lynch document for South Carolina in 1929], but purchased privately before going under the hammer by) — Gabriel Wells (the celebrated New York book and manuscript dealer, for the complete set of letters, documents, and signatures of the 56 Signers of the Declaration assembled by) — Thomas J. Watson (chairman and CEO of IBM; the full sold, 1951, through autograph dealer Foster Cannon to) — the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, Milwaukee (the full set sold, 1968, again through Cannon to) — King V. Hostick (Springfield, Illinois, collector and dealer, who exhibited the collection at the First Federal Bank of Chicago during the Bicentennial; the full set sold, 1991, to) — the Gilder Lehrman Collection

N.B. The two Lynch documents deaccessioned by the South Carolina State Archives were sold to help fund the construction and equipping of the state's World War I Memorial Building, which from 1935 to 1959 housed South Carolina's Historical Commission and Archives Department. The Gilder Lehrman Collection retains the example South Carolina sold in 1929.


Joseph E. Fields, "A Signer and his Signatures, or the Library of Thomas Lynch, Jr.," in Harvard Library Bulletin 14 (1960): 210-52, no 67

Catalogue Note

ONE OF THE FINEST EXAMPLES EXTANT—AND LIKELY THE BEST EVER TO BE AVAILABLE FOR SALE— OF THE AUTOGRAPH OF THOMAS LYNCH, JR., second only to Button Gwinnett in rarity among the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Lynch, Jr. (1749–1779) was the only son of a prosperous rice planter, who sent him to England to receive a classical education; Lynch was the only Signer to attend Eton and Cambridge. He assembled a small gentleman's library, and his ownership signatures in his books have provided the bulk of the known examples of his autograph. In Joseph Fields's census, forty-eight of the eighty-one examples are clipped signatures, the majority removed from title-pages or fly-leaves of his books. Five examples are signatures on full title-pages excised from books, while fourteen other signatures appear within still-complete volumes. Two autograph letters signed, one autograph document, and one signed book cover are recorded, as are ten documents signed, including the present. With the possible exception of Fields's no. 81 (then located at the Reredel Corporation, New York), all other of the recorded documents signed by Lynch are in institutional collections.

At the time this document was signed by his son, Thomas Lynch, Sr., was a South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress, and the funds recorded here were likely the stipend provided to him for his congressional service. But in late February, 1776, the elder Lynch was felled by a stroke that left him all but incapacitated. In March, the South Carolina legislature elected Thomas Lynch, Jr., to serve in Congress as well, presumably to act on his father’s behalf.

In 1775, while his father attended Congress, the junior Lynch accepted a captaincy in the newly-formed First South Carolina Regiment. On a recruiting trip, however, he was stricken with a violent fever that left him permanently debilitated. Despite his own failing health, Lynch, Jr. accepted the congressional seat and traveled to Philadelphia. He attended sessions from 16 May to early November 1776, during which time he voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence.

Both Lynches departed Philadelphia for Charleston in November 1776, but Thomas, Sr., died during the journey, and the health of his son was further reduced. The drowning of Thomas Lynch, Jr., some three years later, as he and his wife were sailing for the West Indies in an effort to regain his health, contributed to his signature being one of the two rarest of all the Signers of the Declaration. Indeed, although Button Gwinnett is a more familiar name to collectors and the general public alike, if clipped signatures are excluded their respective censuses, the holograph of Lynch is much less common than that of Gwinnett.