Lynching has come to mean the illegal execution of anyone by a mob and is first cited in this sense from the late 19th century in America. Although lynching in this sense is obviously illegal, it is somewhat ironic that it derives from what was originally an entirely legal process during the American War of Independence, some one hundred years earlier. During the war, Colonel Charles Lynch (1736-1796) a prominent magistrate in Bedford County, Virginia, was instrumental in rounding up suspected Loyalists who, after summary trials, were subjected to floggings, property seizure, and enforced military service. This became known as ‘Lynch’s Law’, which was first cited as such in 1782, and legitimatised by the Virginian General Assembly in the same year. Some confusion exists as to which Lynch gave his name to ‘Lynch’s Law’ because, by a strange coincidence, a certain Captain William Lynch (1742-1820), no apparent relation to Charles Lynch, was carrying out a similar brand of summary justice against Loyalists in nearby Pittsylvania County, Virginia, at the same time. In 1811, fifteen years after Charles Lynch’s death, William Lynch laid claim that ‘Lynch Law’, as it had become known as, was in fact named after himself. William Lynch’s claims, however, are disputed by most American sources, but are still supported by the OED. The first citing for ‘lynching’, without reference to ‘Lynch Law’, is from 1835, when it meant inflicting severe, but not deliberately fatal, punishment on perceived wrong-doers without legal sanction. Such punishment could mean anything from beatings, to tar-and-feathering, property confiscation, and being run out of town by mobs of angry citizens. ‘Lynch mob’ is first cited from 1838, and even then, it did not necessarily mean that targets of such mobs would lose their lives. As time went by, however, most lynchings became more and more violent and ended in fatalities. They also became more and more driven by racial prejudice against blacks rather than outrage against people who broke the law. Even so, between 1835 and the end of the American Civil War in 1865, lynching in the Southern United States was not solely directed against blacks but also against all abolitionists, regardless of colour. By the late 19th century, lynching had mostly come to mean the deliberate killing of blacks by white mobs without legal sanction. According to the Tuskegee Institute, 4,743 people were lynched in America between 1882 and 1968, of which 72% were black, the remainder mainly white but also some Asians. More than 85 percent of these lynchings occurred in the Southern United States.