Judge David Lynn
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Georgetown Commission

The Founding of Georgetown, MD 1751

632 Assembly Proceedings, May 15-June 8, 1751

An Act for laying out and erecting a Town on Potowmack River, above the Mouth of Rock Creek in Frederick County.

Whereas several Inhabitants of Frederick County, by their humble Petition to this General Assembly, have set forth, that there is a convenient Place for a Town on Potowmack River, above the Mouth of Rock Creek, adjacent to the Inspection-House in the County aforesaid; and prayed that sixty Acres of Land may be there laid out, and erected into a Town.

Be it therefore Enacted by the Right Honourable the Lord Proprietary, by and with the Advice and Consent of his Lordship's Governor, and the Upper and Lower Houses of Assembly, and the Authority of the same, That Capt. Henry Wright Crabb, Master John Needham, Master John Clagett, Master James Perry, Master Samuel Magruder the third, Master Josias Bealle, and Master David Lynn, shall be and are hereby appointed Commissioners for Frederick County aforesaid; and are hereby authorized and impowered as well to buy and purchase sixty Acres, Part of the Tracts of Land belonging to Messieurs George Gordon and George Bell, at the Place aforesaid, where it shall appear to them, or the major Part of them, to be most convenient, as to survey and lay out, or cause the same to be surveyed and laid out, in the best and most convenient Manner, into eight Lots, to be erected into a Town.

Research by Regent Catherine Ball of the Judge Lynn Chapter of the DAR sheds new light on the Judge's participation in the founding of Georgetown.  She discovered that the Commissioners served until resignation or death.  She searched the Taggart Collection, Box 5, "Minutes of the Proceedings of the Commissioners in Georgetown, 1751-1789" in Library of Congress.  The minutes of the Commissioners record where they met, who was present and what was done.  They met at various houses in Georgetown with varying frequency between Sept. 18, 1751 and 1787 when the minutes end.

David Lynn attended most of the meetings from Sept. 18, 1751 to Oct. 11, 1766.  He was absent at the 1772 and 1774 meetings, and there are no minutes after that until May 1782.  On May 22, 1782, the Commissioners caught up with old business by choosing two new commissioners "in the room of David Lynn, Esqr, deceased and Adam Steuart gone to Great Britain."

After the surveyor laid out the town into lots, the two original landowners, George Beall and George Gordon, were given their choice of lots. Next, the remaining lots were offered for sale.  At a meeting of the Commissioners on March 8, 1752, they recorded that David Lynn bought lot #49 for the price of 3 pounds.  Lot 49 is shown on the plat as being on the west side of Water St (now Wisconsin Ave.) about halfway between Bridge St. (now M St.) and the waterfront.  It looks like it is more or less across the street from where Grace Episcopal Church now stands.

Purchasers were required to improve their lots.  David Lynn never improved his, so it was sold on June 3, 1760 to Thomas Johns.  As an original lot holder, we can consider David Lynn one of the founders of Georgetown.

Judge Lynn's Georgetown Property
by Catherine Ball, Regent Judge Lynn Chapter DAR, D.C. DAR News
David Lynn is remembered as one of the twelve Immortal Justices of the Frederick County Court who repudiated the Stamp Act in November 1765.  Evidence has now come to light that he was also a founder and patriot of Georgetown!  In 1751, Master David Lynn was appointed one of seven commissioners to lay out the Town of George on the Potomac.  From 1751 until his death in 1779, David Lynn served on what was then the governing body of the town.  The Minutes of the Georgetown Commissioners, which Chapter Regent, Cathy Ball recently examined at the Library of Congress, show that David Lynn attended most of the Commissioners' meetings for the first fifteen years, and was not replaced until 1782.  He may have commuted from his plantation in Rock Creek Hundred.  The Minutes reveal another surprising fact: after Georgetown was laid out into lots by the surveyor, David Lynn purchased lot #49!  This lot was a prime location on what is now Wisconsin Avenue, about halfway between M Street and the riverfront.  Although David Lynn never improved the property (and eventually it was resold), he can be considered one of the founders of Georgetown.  The Georgetown connection was renewed at the end of the centrury, when David Lynn's granddaughter, Ann Brooke and her husband William Hammond Dorsey built Dumbarton Oaks on the heights of Georgetown.