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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (L)
Lawson, William - A Scottish Rebel


  William Lawson was born 26 June 1731 at Monstrose, Scotland.  He was the only son of a widow lady (1).  No information is available on his father. Some believe his name was Robert and may have been killed during the Scottish uprising which culminated in the fatal route and disperson of the followers of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, "the Pretender" to the throne of Great Britain at the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746.

   At this battle the British army, under the command of the Duke of Cumberland, killed 1000 of the 5000 Scottish troops in less than an hour and pursued the fleeing rebels, persecuting and prosecuting them and members of their families (2).  William Lawson was one of many young Scotsmen arrested and placed in prisons in northern England.

   Confined at Chester and Carlisle, the scottish rebels became a threat to the English crown.  On 25 September 1746, one Richard Gildart of Liverpool signed an agreement with the English Treasury to transport these prisoners to the plantations (American Colonies) at the rate of 5 pounds per head.  Nearly 200 prisoners were transported to the Colonies (3).

   On 5 May 1747 104 prisoners went aboard the "Johnson" and arrived 17 July 1747 at Port Oxford, MD.  The Captain was William Pemberton.  William Lawson and 80 other prisoners went aboard the "Gildart" and arrived 5 August 1747 at Port North, Potomack, MD.  The Captain was Richard Holme(4)  These prisoners were bound out as apprentices (slaves) to various plantation owners in which the Captains of the ships were paid handsomely in tobacco.

   William Lawson was bound out to a Virgina planter.  After about a year he ran away from his enslavement.  This put a price on his head and he had to seek refuge somewhere.  It is assumed by this writer that William  had relatives here in the Colonies and he sought refuge with them.  The Lawson family was already established in Virginia and North Carolina that were of Scottish origin. It is assumed by this writer that William was offered sanctuary with his cousins that came before him.

   During this period of refuge, William Lawson met and married Rebecca.  Her maiden name might be Travis.  They had several children.  All known children were born in North Carolina(5). They were:

   1.  William Lawson II b, 1763 m. 4 Jan 1788 to
       Nancy Baker, Montgomery County, VA.
   2.  Travis Lawson b. ca 1766 m. 4 Jan 1788 to
       Maysie Simpkins, Montgomery County, VA.
       (note:  William and Travis were witnesses to
       to each others marriage along with one Thomas
       Mallett who might be a brother-in-law.) (6)
   3.  Sarah (Sally) Lawson b. 1770 m. 14 Aug 1794 to
       Henry Wood.
   4.  Robert Lawson born before 1774 m. 4 Mar 1794 to
       Anna Goad. 
   5.  Betsy Ann Lawson m. 5 Aug 1789 to William
       Canterberry.
   6.  Rev. Jeremiah Lawson b. 1773 m. 3 Mar 1799 to
       (1) Matilda Wiggins (2) 1811 to Hannah Chanslor.
       Jeremiah helped pioneered the Methodist movement
       in wilderness Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio.

       Possible children were: 
   7.  Rhoda Lawson b. before 1780 married John Wilson.
   8.  Catherine Lawson b. in the 1770s married Jessee
       Elliott.
   9.  A daughter that married Thomas Mallett.
       There may be other children.

   William Lawson never realized that one day hew would be facing the Brittish army again, but this time, in a new and different land.  The Declaration of Independence set him free and facts are established that he swore allegience to the state of (Virginia) and the American cause on 13 Sept 1777 as a member of Captain Daniel Trigg's Company of the Montgomery County, Virginia Militia.  This service connection eventually led the Scottish Rebel to face the Brittish at the Battle of King's Mountain in South Carolina 7 October 1780.

   William Lawson lived a long and turbulent life.  He died in Scott County, Va on 18 April 1826.  Rebecca followed him in death on 16 January 1827(7)  Both are buried on a beautiful Knoll in the Snowflake community near Gate City, Va.  Some of his children lived in Scott County, Virginia.  Some moved to Kentucky and to Tennessee.  Descendants are scattered from coast to coast.

(1) Wood Family in Virginia by M>B> Wood published in
    1893 by J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, PA
(2) ibid
(3) National Archives, Washington, D.C. and National
    Genealogy Society, 1975 Quarterly Publication
(4) ibid
(5) Census Records and other sources.
(6) Montgomery County, VA mariage records.
(7) Wood Family Bible Record.

Other sources are court records in Russell County, VA and Scott County, VA

Bill Porter


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