‘There at the Beginning’ – a look back: Part 2

Part 1 of ‘There at the Beginning’ was a compilation from a book authored by Doug Johnson of Southampton.  A look back Part 2 continues with Francis Hardwick Lynch-Staunton.

Johnson, an active Mason, was enthralled with Lynch-Staunton after seeing a framed photo of him that had hung in the former Masonic Hall in Southampton.  In his own words, Johnson said, “Who was this man?  Why was his picture hanging in the hall?  Was he once a Mason?  Is he of relevance to us today?”  Johnson began his research with archival assistance of the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre and the Masonic records and began to discover the remarkable life of Francis H. Lynch-Staunton for, not only was he a fellow Mason, he was the founder of Southampton’s St. Lawrence Lodge and an integral part of Southampton’s history.

     Francis H. Lynch-Staunton

Although Francis Hardwick Lynch-Staunton was in Southampton (Saugeen Shores) for only a decade, he definitely left his mark.  He was a military man, a surveyor, village councillor, hotel owner and newspaper publisher, in addition to a founder of the St. Lawrence Masonic Lodge.

Born on August 15, 1818, he was the second son of George S. Lynch-Staunton, L.L.D. (Doctor of Laws) in Galway, Ireland.  This, too, has been disputed as his tombstone says that he was born in Nottingham, England.

Originally, the family name was simply Lynch however, in the provisions of the will of a baronet cousin, Sir George Leonard Staunton, Francis’ father assumed the Staunton family name and the name was changed by decree in 1852 to Lynch-Staunton.

The Baronet Staunton was famous in his own right.  A first baronet of the family, Sir George was a diplomat who travelled as secretary to Lord Macartney’s on his mission to the Far East.  His son, Thomas Staunton also became a British member of Parliament and was also an expert on the East and was co-founder of the Royal Asiatic Society and a member of the East India Committee.

Francis H. Lynch-Staunton was educated at the famous English seminary, St. Mary’s College in Birmingham, England from which many students went on to be leaders in their field, including government and the Catholic church.  Lynch-Staunton was offered a professorship in Chemistry at Trinity College in Ireland and was engaged for three years on the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, before leaving for Canada and arriving in 1854.  It was not determined why he left for Canada as his family was one of considerable financial means.

In 1856, he received his commission as Provincial Land Surveyor and records show that he was a land surveyor and engineer in Bruce County for 10 years from 1855 to 1865 (date is questionable as he was on village council in 1866).  According to records, in 1859, he lived in Southampton at the corner of Landsdowne and Victoria Streets and was part owner of part of lots #8 on the north and south sides of High Street, where the Outlaw Brewing Co. and Lighthouse Restaurant are today.

In 1855, the Militia Act was introduced in Bruce County and, as a result, the 1st Battalion of Bruce was formed and also military service became compulsory for all males between the ages of 18 and 60 under the ‘Sedentary’ section.  Within the section, there were two divisions – servicemen over 18 and under 40 and the reserves for those over 40.  The only stipulation was that servicemen had to assemble once a year on the Queen’s birthday.

Lynch-Staunton was one of the first to receive a commission in the 1st Battalion as a captain on October 20, 1858 that was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Pryse Clark.  Clark was once an officer in the British Army and was a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo and is buried in the ‘old’ Southampton cemetery although his headstone has disappeared.

Southampton Town Hall

At age 29, Lynch-Staunton became a Free Mason and, in 1860, he was Lt.-Col. of the 1st Battalion.  There were rumors of war in the early 1860s and, drill inspectors were sent out the various regiments to drill volunteers.  As a result, a ‘drill’ shed was built in Southampton in 1862 where the Southampton Town Hall stands today.



Photo: Bruce County Historical Society former Masonic Hall

The Masonic Hall (now a private residence) in Southampton on Albert Street served as a combined village hall and school until the village hall was moved to the ‘drill’ hall in 1873 and the school was moved to a new building in 1879 where the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre stands today.  The result was that the newly formed St. Lawrence Masonic Lodge under Lynch-Staunton purchased the building for $150 and it became the Masonic Hall.

Southampton’s 1861 consensus showed that Lynch-Staunton was Government Land Surveyor, aged 33, from Ireland and a Roman Catholic.  The record also showed that he and his wife Victoria, aged 23, had children, George and Alfred, both born in Southampton, and a servant Maggy Currie.

The Lynch-Stauntons had 10 children in total.  Son, George, went on to become a Senator in the Government of Canada and Marcus became publisher of the Hamilton Review newspaper. A great-grandson, John, also became a Senator in 1993, following in his grandfather George’s footsteps.

The family moved to West Flamboro near Dundas and, in 1876, Lynch-Staunton moved to Hamilton where he engineered the high-level Hamilton bridge and the Hamilton and Dundas railway.


Francis H. Lynch-Staunton died at age 76 in 1899 and is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Burlington.





From a very good friend, Doug Johnson, author and publisher of ‘There at the Beginning’, this is an encapsulation of Southampton.  Doug is no longer with us but he presented his book to me several years ago with permission to tell the story, particularly, of
Francis H. Lynch-Staunton