Lynn, Robert John (1873–1945), unionist politician and journalist, was born near Bushmills, Co. Antrim, the son of a small farmer. Following his education at a local national school and further private tuition, in 1893 he began his journalistic career, first working in Derry and Newry before joining the reporting staff of the Belfast Newsletter. In 1903 he transferred to the Northern Whig as a leader writer, later becoming assistant editor and editor (1913–28). Known for his staunch unionist views, Lynn served as a unionist MP at Westminster for Woodvale, Belfast (1918–22), and subsequently for Belfast West (1922–9). He also represented Belfast West (1921–9) and Antrim North (1929–45) in the parliament of Northern Ireland.
After the establishment of the Northern Ireland state the minister of education, Lord Londonderry (qv), aimed to establish a new primary school system, despite the objection of Cardinal Michael Logue (qv) and the catholic church, and Lynn was appointed to chair the Ministry of Education's committee of inquiry into a new system. The Lynn committee's interim report in the summer of 1922 formed the basis of the Education Act (Northern Ireland) of 1923 which restructured primary and secondary education, making the former free and compulsory, and providing for scholarships from local authorities to enable gifted pupils to attend fee-paying secondary schools. It also made a provision, which was not favoured by Lynn, for religious instruction as a voluntary option in a secular education system. Due to the opposition of both catholics and protestants, the non-denominational primary system failed, but secondary schools which had been strongly condemned by the Lynn committee did improve in quality and increased their intake of students.
Lynn was knighted in 1924 and served as chairman of the Advisory Educational Council as well as deputy speaker of the house of commons of the Northern Ireland parliament from 1937. His only journalism after leaving the Northern Whig in 1928 were contributions to the presbyterian magazine the Witness, which he managed for a short period before it ceased publication during the second world war. In December 1944 he sustained serious injuries after a fall and, when the new Northern Ireland parliament met in July 1945, he took his oath in the chamber from a wheelchair. He died 5 August 1945 at Ards District Hospital, survived by his wife Florence Moss, a native of Belfast, and their son, Gerald, a resident magistrate.