Lynch law is mob law, condemnation without due process as required by the Constitution. The victim of a "trial" by a vigilante committee was usually given summary execution.
   Word historians have been perturbed by the history of this word because many have claimed the source of the eponymous word lynch. One that sounds ridiculous involved a young man named Walt, who killed his friend, Gomez, because he thought Gomez was courting his girlfriend. He later learned that all the friend was doing was teaching Spanish to the girlfriend's father. Walt voluntarily confessed to the police. His father, James Lynch Fitzstephen, of Galway, was both mayor and chief magistrate, and presided over Walt's trial. The defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to be executed. But because Walt was so wellliked in the community, no one would carry out the sentence. Walt's father had no alternative but to hang his son himself. This he did from a window of their house.
   According to another account, perhaps equally apocryphal, in North Carolina, at Lynch Creek, a bizarre form of trial and execution was held on the corpse of a Tory who had already been hanged, the thought being to justify the sentence post facto. This was a case of hanging one on a dead man.
   Two men with the name Lynch lived in Virginia at about the same time and presided over a vigilance committee: Charles, from 1736 to 1796, and William, from 1742 to 1820. The credit for the word lynchor the discredit for it—has been given to each of these men by their respective followers seeking the dubious honor of being the first lyncher. Charles was a planter, a justice of the peace, and a colonel in the militia. William was a member of a vigilance committee in Pittsylvania, Virginia. The weight of the evidence, according to some lexicographers, tilts toward Charles, even though both men engaged in summary executions. Although William Lynch and cohorts were not the first vigilantes to take the law into their own hands, they were the first to enter into a compact that stated the reasons for their actions and justification for a kangaroo court. Lynch and a group of his neighbors made a declaration of justifiable punishment, which received widespread publicity because of an editorial on lynching written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1836 when he edited the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe even quoted their compact: Whereas many of the inhabitants of Pittsylvania . . . have sustained great and intolerable losses by a set of lawless men . . . that have hitherto escaped the civil power with impunity . . . we, the subscribers, being determined to put a stop to the iniquitous practices of those unlawful wretches, do enter into the following association . . . upon hearing or having sufficient reason, that any . . . species of villany (has) been committed within our neighborhood we will forthwith . . . repair immediately to the person or persons suspected . . . and if they will not desist from their evil practices, we will inflict such corporeal punishment on him or them as to us shall seem adequate to the crime committed or the damage sustained. ... In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands, this 22nd day of September 1780.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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