John Doyle was a son of Thomas Doyle, of Lancaster, who was a very prominent citizen and the proprietor of the Slavinaker tavern, which stood at the northwest corner of East King and Christian streets. His grandfather was also named Thomas, and was the pioneer of this family, having come to the Conestoga probably direct from Maryland in the years 1727-1728. He was a Roman Catholic, and probably belonged to the Order of Jesuits.
John was born January 23, 1750, his mother having been Mary Young, daughter of Mathias Young, a merchant of Lancaster, and one of the founders of the Moravian Church on Market street. He was apprenticed to a gunsmith, and afterwards became one of the leading gunsmiths of Lancaster. On September 5, 1776, he formed an independent company of volunteers and on the same day was commissioned Captain. For some time this company guarded prisoners in York and Lancaster, and was on other detached duty. It became attached to the First Pennsylvania Battalion, where it remained until 1778, when it became part of the Sixth Pennsylvania, and participated in a number of battles. In the spring of 17S1 this Company marched with the Pennsylvania troops under General Wayne to Virginia. On July 6, 1781, after marching several miles from Chickahominy Church, the First Battalion of the Pennsylvania troops was detached, with a small party of riflemen, to feel for the British, whom they found unexpectedly, and they became hotly engaged, which brought on a general engagement. Among the wounded was Captain Doyle. Captain Doyle for brilliant service in this action was promoted to Major.
According to a certificate of General Wayne, he particularly distinguished himself at the battle of Green Springs, Virginia.
He never entirely recovered from his wounds. He was in hospital in York, and from there taken to Lancaster, he was pensioned by the Government.
April 2tst, 1785, a Warrant was granted to Lodge No. 43, A. Y. M., of which Major Doyle was one of the petitioners.
He was probably made a Mason in one of the Army Lodges. In the Warrant of Lodge So. 43 he was named as the first Senior Warden, in which capacity he served from September 14. 1785. until June, 1787, when he was elected Worshipful Master, which position he continued to fill until the fall of 1788, when he died while in office.
Brother Doyle was a Roman Catholic, but a very liberal one; he was also a member of the Society of the Cincinnati. He was said to have been buried in Old St. Mary's churchyard, Lancaster.
1. History of Lodge No. 43, F. & A. M. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, page 329.