Lynch, James (c.1624–1713), catholic archbishop of Tuam, was born in Galway. His family background and early life remain obscure, but he was educated at the Irish College in Seville, Spain, and later received a doctorate in theology from Salamanca. He preached in San Sebastian, afterwards travelled to Buenos Aires, in South America, and then returned to Galway as a priest. Highly regarded for his missionary endeavours and his lack of involvement in the remonstrance of Peter Walsh (qv), in 1668 Lynch was recommended to Oliver Plunkett (qv), archbishop of Armagh, by Nicholas French (qv), bishop of Ferns. In January 1669 he was one of four catholic priests nominated to vacant Irish bishoprics, and was consecrated as archbishop of Tuam in Ghent, Flanders, on 6/16 May 1669 in succession to John Burke (qv); French and Archbishop Peter Talbot (qv) assisted at the ceremony. Lynch subsequently proved energetic in his role, which occasionally attracted hostile official attention.
In May 1670 Lynch was accused by Martin French, an Augustinian in Galway, of (among other things) ‘having said King James was in hell, and that his son Charles was justly beheaded’ (Plunkett letters, 87). Lynch was subsequently prosecuted, but was found not guilty. French, who held a grudge against Lynch, then accused him of praemunire, but Lynch was bailed until August 1670. While Col. John Fitzpatrick (qv) procured a safe conduct for Lynch, in April 1671 he was again imprisoned for praemunire, though he was acquitted in September. By this time French's vendetta had eased off, but Lynch remained fearful; in January 1672 Plunkett, who held Lynch in some regard, was hopeful that French might be persuaded to go to Flanders. Imprisoned in Galway in October 1674 after further accusations by French, he subsequently went into exile in Spain, travelling to Madrid, where his desperate financial condition forced him to request permission to exercise his clerical functions there; he was later appointed honorary chaplain to Charles II of Spain.
In 1678 there were attempts to implicate Lynch in the ‘popish plot’, in the claims of both Titus Oates (August) and John Shadwell (December). However, these were rehashes of Martin French's earlier claims; the similarity was noted by a sceptical Irish administration. In November 1680 Lynch was mentioned again at the trial of Viscount Stafford in London, this time as seeking to facilitate a French invasion of Ireland. However, Lynch's continued absence from Ireland made such accusations redundant. He remained in exile until the accession of James II (qv) in 1685, when he returned to Ireland. On 22 March 1686 Lynch was granted a pension of £200 a year by James. In the face of Jacobite defeat in 1691, he fled from his episcopal residence at Clonbur, and travelled to France; he had apparently favoured surrendering Galway to Williamite forces. In early 1692, while at Saint-Germain, Lynch, along with a number of other bishops, urged the papacy to support the Jacobite cause. From 1692 he resided at the Irish College in Paris, though he made numerous return trips to his diocese. He was later appointed honorary chaplain to James II in exile; his counsel was valued at the Stuart court. In November 1710 Lynch requested that Dominic Lynch, his nephew and vicar-general, be appointed coadjutor of his diocese, but the latter died soon after; no coadjutor was appointed in Lynch's lifetime. Lynch died in the Irish College in Paris c.31 October 1713, leaving a bequest for the education of clerical students from Galway. He was buried in St Paul's church in Paris, where a bust was erected; the church was later demolished. The lawyer and antiquary, Oliver J. Burke (1826?–1889), writing in 1882, stated that a portrait of Lynch was retained by the Lynch family of Barna, Co. Galway.