Irish signers of the Declaration of Independence

An Irish Central article written by Brendan Patrick Keane reports on the eight men of Irish descent who signed the Declaration of  Independence.

Two-hundred-plus years later we probably aren’t capable of fully appreciating the risk involved with being a revolutionary. Their spirit of independence led these men to risk their lives for freedom in the new country. Here’s a summary of Keane’s story about the eight Irish signers (which can be read at

  • Thomas McKean (1734-1817) – son of Antrim-born William Kean; served as President of Delaware, Chief Justice and Governor of Pennsylvania; led the movement for independence in Delaware.
  • Charles Carroll (1734-1832) – descendant of a noble Tipperary clan; the only Catholic and the longest-living signer of the Declaration.
  • James Smith (1719-1806) – born in Ireland; raised a militia group in York, PA, and joined the Continental Congress before serving as a Colonel in the PA militia during the Revolutionary War.
  • George Taylor (1716-1781) – born in Antrim and emigrated at age 20; served in the Continental Congress and on Committee of Correspondence.
  • Matthew Thornton (1714-1803) – born in Ireland and emigrated as a child; a pre-revolutionary agitator before serving as Colonel of the New Hampshire militia.
  • Edward Rutledge (1749-1800) – son of Co. Tyrone-born father and youngest signer of the Declaration; Edward and his brother both served in the Continental Congress; a son would become 39th governor of South Carolina.
  • Thomas Lynch Jr. (1749-1779)- descendant of the Galway Lynch tribe; stood in for his father (Thomas Sr.) who was too ill to represent South Carolina.
  • George Read (1733-1798)- son of John Read of Dublin; studied law before serving as Crown Attorney General in Delaware and in the Continental Congress.
  • John Dunlap (1747-1812) – born in Co. Tyrone and became official printer for the Continental Congress; saw action with George Washington at Trenton and Princeton.

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