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Lyons (surname)

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Lyons is a surname with several origins. It is the name of an eminent Anglo-Norman family (originally styled de Lyons, or de Leonne, and also spelled Lyon) that is descended from Ingelram de Lyons, Lord of Lyons, who arrived in England with the Norman Conquest, and from his relation, Nicholas de Lyons, who emigrated from Normandy to England in 1080 and was granted lands at Warkworth, Northamptonshire by William of Normandy. The family originated in the district of the Forest of Lyons, north of the town of Lyons-la-Forêt, in Norman Vexin, where their seat was the Castle of Lyons. The original surname was 'de Lyons' ('of [the Forest and Castle of] Lyons'): subsequently, the 'de' was removed from the name, and some branches removed the 's' from the end of the word, producing 'Lyon'.[1][2][3][4]

During the 14th century, a branch of the family emigrated to Scotland, where they became Clan Lyon, the Lords of Glamis, and the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. During the 15th century, a branch of the family emigrated to Ireland, where they established a seat at King's County that became known as River Lyons, and a seat at County Westmeath that was named Ledestown/Ledistown Hall, from which they served as High Sheriff of Westmeath and as High Sheriff of King's County. This branch of the family owned land in Antigua and later removed from Ireland to England.[5] During the 16th and 17th centuries, including after the English Civil War, some members of the family emigrated to America to New York, America.[4] The descendants of the Warkworth family who remained in England had ceased to reside at Warkworth by the 16th century, and resided on estates in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Middlesex. They intermarried with descendants of the branch of the family that had emigrated to Scotland.[1][4]

There are other families with the surname that are not related to the Anglo-Norman family, including a Celtic Irish family whose name derives from the Celtic word for 'grey'[6] through the Irish names of Ó Laighin and 'Ó Liatháin.[7] However, there were also in Ireland descendants of the Norman family, which had seats in County Offaly and County Westmeath.[5][8][9]

People with the surname[edit]









  • Harry Lyons (1866–1912), US baseball player
  • Henry A. Lyons (c. 1809–1872), second Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California
  • Sir Henry George Lyons (1864–1944), geologist and director of the Science Museum in London
  • Henry Lyons (b. 1942), former President of the National Baptist Convention
  • Hersh Lyons (1915–2008), US baseball player
  • Humphrey Lyons (1802–1873), English politician in India


  • Israel Lyons (1739–1775), English mathematician and botanist







  • Oren Lyons (born 1930), Native American, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan


  • Pat Lyons (1860–1914), US baseball player
  • Patrick Lyons (1903–1967), Australian Catholic prelate; Third Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand, and Fourth Bishop of Sale, Victoria, Australia
  • Paul Lyons, several people, famous American comedian, writer, doctors, and authors
  • Peter Lyons (disambiguation), several people
  • Pratt Lyons (born 1974), US football player







  • Zoe Lyons (born 1971), English comedy performer

See also[edit]


  • MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families: Their Names, Arms and Origins. Irish Academic Press. 4th edition, 1998.
  • O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees. Dublin: James Duffy and Co. 5th edition, 1892.
  1. ^ a b Base Mérimée: Château fort, Ministère français de la Culture. (in French)
  2. ^ Judith A. Green Henry I: King of England and Duke of Normandy, Cambridge University Press, 2006. The introduction is online: "Introduction: A surfeit of lampreys"
  3. ^ Office de Tourisme du Pays de Lyons-la-Forêt: Le pays de Lyons à travers l'histoire Archived 23 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine. This site also contains further historical detail concerning the castle and its royal connections. (in French)
  4. ^ a b c Miller, Robert, ed. (1907). The Lyon Memorial: New York Families Descended from the Immigrant, Thomas Lyon of Rye. Press William Graham Printing Co.
  5. ^ a b Langford Vere, Oliver. History of the Island of Antigua, Vol. 2. Mitchell and Hughes, London, 1894. pp. 214–217.
  6. ^ The Surnames of Ireland, Edward MacLysaght, sixth edition (1997), published by the Irish Academic Press, ISBN 0-7165-2364-7.
  7. ^ "100 Irish surnames explained". www.ireland-information.com.
  8. ^ Woods, James (1907). Annals of Westmeath, Ancient and Modern. Sealy, Bryers, and Walker. p. 68.
  9. ^ Walford, E. (1882). The County Families of the United Kingdom. p. 405.