Two names, many shared histories

Discord over inheritance? Claims to the baronetcy of Brough Hall.

Discord over inheritance?

The Lawson baronetcy of Brough had two creations. The first was in 1660 and the second was after 1834 when the sixth baronet of the first creation died, leaving no direct heirs.

Later, in 1907, John Lawson of Whitby (1885-1924) a descendant of the 1st Baronet announced in the local Whitby paper that he was resuming the title of ‘Sir John’ by right of his descent. The full text of the notice he had published is below.


​Notice is hereby given that I, John Lawson of Whitby Co. Yorks, have by deed poll dated the 24th of June, 1907 assumed as my lawful right the rank style and title of Sir John Lawson of Whitby in the County of York, Baronet which rank style and title was conferred upon my ancestor Sir John Lawson of Burgh Hall Co. York aforesaid by King Charles II by Letters Patent dated 6 July, 1665, the said Baronetcy having descended regularly to the late Sir Henry Lawson of Burgh Hall who died sine prole in 1834 (when the title became vested in the issue of William Lawson Esquire, the second surviving son Of Sir John Lawson 1st Baronet) leaving John Lawson the Elder of Whitby aforesaid Gentleman great-grandson and heir of the said William Lawson, his heir at law. I the said John Lawson of Whitby aforesaid being the great-grandson, and heir at law of the said John Lawson the Elder, Gentleman.

The aforesaid deed poll was executed in lieu of recording my pedigree in the College of Arms as required by the order of his late Majesty King George III dated sixth December, 1782, such order having been subsequently revoked by his said Majesty so far related to Baronetcy’s created prior to 1783. Dated 24th June 1907,

(Signed) John Lawson.

Witness: David Gordon Walker
34 Esk Terrace

The notice refers to ‘John Lawson the Elder of Whitby’ as the great grandfather of the 1907 John Lawson. In the Garbutt/ Lawson family tree, he is also the great grandfather of William Garbutt (1862-1944). William and John Lawson (1907) were therefore second cousins.

Who was the rightful heir to the Baronetcy?

Dating from the 1830s or even before that, there had been long-running resentment and dispute over who was the legitimate heir to the baronetcy of Brough. The lines of inheritance had been clear, from the 1st baronet up to the 5th baronet, Sir John (1712-1781).
The 6th baronet (Henry Maire Lawson 1750-1834) was the younger brother of the 5th baronet. The 5th baronet had married twice but his only living heirs were both female. The 6th baronet succeeded to the title in 1811 but had left no issue when he died in 1834. However, he had made a will naming his successor as his great nephew, William Wright (1796-1865). William was the grandson of the 5th baronet through one of the latter’s two daughters, Elizabeth. He adopted the name Lawson when he inherited the Brough estates in 1834 and became the 1st baronet in the second creation in 1841. He strengthened his claim to the estates by marrying his second cousin,Clarinda Catherine Lawson, granddaughter and heiress to John Lawson of Bath, the younger brother of the 4th Baronet. Thus, both William and Clarinda were the great grandchildren of the 3rd baronet, but neither were direct male descendants.

This being the case, there was likely to have been discontent amongst direct male descendants of the 1st baronet when the estates and titles were bestowed upon William Wright. The 1st baronet, John, had had several sons and daughters but his fourth son, William, was actually his second surviving son. This William, “Esquire of the city of York”, inherited an annuity of £30 from his father in 1698 and then £10 from his brother Henry (2nd baronet) in 1726. In 1719 William enrolled his estates by deed and his will was dated 1728.

William’s great-grandson, was the first John Lawson of Whitby (‘The Elder’ 1756-1855). He must have felt that he was entitled to the title as he styled himself ‘Sir John’, even though he was a tradesperson ( a draper). However, it was his great grandson who published his intention to be called ‘Sir John’ in the press in 1907 ( see above). The father of John Lawson the Elder had been Philip who was the great grandson of the 1st baronet via William (Esquire of York) and Philip had lived to the remarkable age of 104. ‘Old’ Philip ( as he was known) was born in 1729, a year after William Lawson, his grandfather, had died, and only 31 years after the death of the 1st baronet. So Old Philip and his family would be very aware of their close kinship with the 1st Baronet. Indeed, because of his longevity, Philip would have been alive at the time that the estates and title passed to the 5th and 6th baronets, and he would surely have known that neither had a direct male heir to inherit. Philip died a year before the 6th baronet, but his son and family must have been very aware of their own entitlement and also the will ( dated 1726) of the 2nd baronet who had entailed “his estates to his male heirs forever”

In 1907 Philip Hugh Lawson (b 1887) published the family tree that he had been researching on behalf of the claim of his uncle, John Lawson of Whitby, to the baronetcy (see quoted text above). In 1904 and 1907 press reports and letters to newspapers appear to show a heightened interest in this research and this branch of the family assumed by deed poll the ‘name, rank and title of ……baronet. This was “de jure” ( i.e. as a right of law, rather than a fact of law). Brough Hall and its estates actually belonged to the descendants of William Wright Lawson (1st baronet of second creation). Nevertheless, John Lawson of Whitby styled himself 10th baronet. His son Philip (b 1891) was styled the 11th baronet, and his grandson John Philip of Hull (b 1926) was the 12th baronet.

An ironic footnote?

The rather ironic footnote to these disputes and claims is that, in recent times, there has been discord within baronetcy of the second creation, that is amongst the descendants of William Wright Lawson (1796-1865). This branch married again into the Howard family and were known later as Howard-Lawson. Their seat was at Corby Castle in Cumbria and the 6th baronet of the second creation is Sir John Philip Howard Lawson (b1934). He was in a long running legal dispute with his son Philip (b1961) over the sale of Corby Castle which, Philip claimed, had been illegally sold by his father. However, Philip lost the costly case in March 2012.

What happened to Brough Hall?

Brough Hall was inherited by the two daughters of the 4th baronet of the second creation (1905-1975). At the present time its ownership has not been established by the current writer but there is promotional video that shows some of its current interior, available on utube.

Picture of ‘Sir’ John Lawson (1855-1924), master of Union Workhouse, Whitby.

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JOHN LAWSON, 1st BARONET of Brough Hall, died 1698. Inherited from his brother Henry. He was a Captain of horse in the Royalist Army. His Estates were confiscated by the Parliamentarians after they had won the Civil War and he went into exile with his family. Upon the restoration of the monarchy his estates were restored and he was made a baronet in 1665 by Charles II.
Married Catherine Howard, (1637-1668), sister of Charles Ist Earl of Carlisle.
They had many children but only two surviving sons who married and had issue:

1.Henry 2nd BARONET (1653-1726). His will entails his estates “to his maleheirs forever”.

2. WILLIAM (the only other surviving married son) described as “a gentleman ( esquire) of York”. In 1698 his father, the first Baronet, bequeathed him an annuity of £30 in his will. His brother Henry, the 2nd Baronet, bequeathed him £10 in his will in 1726.
His son:

GEORGE “of Egton in County of York.”
His son:
PHILIP ( 1729-1833)
Later known as ‘old Philip’, presumably because of his longevity (he was 104 when he died!).
He was the great-grandson of 1st baronet, John, and grandson of William Lawson.
He married Barbara Elders of Egton and had a number of children by her.
When she died he married Jane Hoggart and had one daughter by her.

JOHN Lawson ‘the Elder’ (1756-1855) Draper of Bridgestreet in Whitby, son of Philip, gt,get grandson of 1st baronet, John. Father-in-law of Cpt William Garbutt who married his daughter, Jane. Later named as 7th baronet “de jure” ( ie by right, but not in law)

JOHN (The younger) (1795-1874) also draper of Bridgestreet, Whitby. Married Ann White. His eldest surviving son was:

JOHN NICHOLAS (1823-1898) married Eliza Ann Rook.
His eldest sons were twins, John and William. John was the elder twin:

JOHN (1855-1924). In 1907 he claimed the title of “Sir John” and claimed to be the 10th baronet. He married Rebecca Storm. He was the Master of the Union Workhouse at Whitby, she was the Mistress. His portrait hangs in the Pannet Gallery in Whitby. He was an amateur painter/artist. He had 4 sons: John, Philip, William (portrait by his father in Pannet Gallery) and Henry (Harry). The eldest was:

JOHN (1885-1910) He was a sailor and drowned off the coast of India. He is commemorated on the Lawson gravestone at St Mary’s Whitby ( now eroded).
PHILIP : the heir. (1891-1962)known as the 11th Bart. Served with his brothers in the Great War. His brother,Harry (1895-1916) died in that War. His brother William is referred to below*
Married Doris Boulby. His son:

JOHN PHILIP (1926-) known as the 12th Bart. Married Joan Alice Robinson.
His son:
DAVID PHILIP (b 1957) married Pamela Giblin

WILLIAM (1893-1946) brother of the above PHILIP. Of Whitby then St Albans. He was co-founder of Faith Craft works and designed and made ecclesiastical features and church fittings, including stained glass windows.
He married Winifred Maude Corble. His son was:

JOHN Nicholas (1932-2009). An artist and master craftsman, also. He had many prestigious ecclesiastical commissions, including the window in the west wall of Henry VII chapel, Westminster Abbey, and a window in Ripon Cathedral. Also commissions in the Middle East.
Spouse: Frances Baker. Children:
, Rebecca (b1969), Helena (b 1970) Dominic (b 1972)

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ZACHARIAH Garbutt (1752-1805) mariner of Whitby, father of Cpt William Garbutt

Married to………
ELEANOR Garbutt (1764-1819) wife of above and mother of Cpt Wm Garbutt

Surviving Children of the above couple with spouses:

1.Zachariah Garbutt (1791-1833) eldest surviving son of above, brother of Cpt Wm Garbutt

Married to……

Mary Lawson (1799- 1883) wife of above, sister in law of Cpt Wm Garbutt.
Children of this couple: several, including John Lawson Garbutt, seaman, born 1829, died in 1859, lost at sea on ship ‘Rosshire’.

2.WILLIAM Garbutt (1803-1837) captain, of ‘Canton’ died In wreck, Canada.

Married to……

JANE Lawson (1808-1837) died in wreck of ‘Canton’ with husband and infant son.

Children of the above couple….

3. ZACHARIAH (‘James’) Garbutt (1831-1913) eldest son of Cpt Wm Garbutt

married Dorothy Atkinson (1834-1914)
LUCY Garbutt (1834-37) Sister of above, died in infancy

WILLIAM Garbutt (1836-37) infant brother of above, died with parents in wreck of ‘Canton’.

4.WILLIAM Garbutt ( 1862-1944) son of Zachariah & Dorothy Atkinson grandson of Cpt William.
married Margaret Metcalf (1864-1951)
Ethel Garbutt and……..

5.WILLIAM Garbutt ( 1888-1975) ‘Will’ : great grandson of Cpt William
married Blanche Snowdon (1888-1961)
Margaret Garbutt, later Carr (1914-2009)
William Garbutt (b1922) ‘Bill’: gt gt grandson of Cpt William.
married (Doris) Marjorie Walker (b1923)
Children: Barbara Jean (b 1950)

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The Lawson family history is complicated and has been subject of disputes over the centuries ( see post ‘Discord over Inheritance’). This first list indicates the line of the Lawsons who inherited estates and property and who were given the status of baronets which had been recognised ‘officially’.

EDMUND Lawson , Died 1551 Esquire of Byker & West Matsen manors in Northumberland & Durham
Married Margaret Swynhowe
Son and heir:

RALPH 1547-1623 Heir to above estates.
Married Elizabeth, heir to Manor of Burgh ( Brough) near Catterick, Yorkshire. Knighted by James I in 1603
Son & heir:

ROGER who died in his father’s lifetime c 1613/14. Married Dorothy Constable of Burton Constable Family, Yorkshire.
Son and heir to his grandfather Ralph’s estates:

HENRY 1602-1635 Married Ann
Various children including
JAMES Inherited Burgh( Brough) but only briefly, as he died young.
HENRY. Inherited from his brother James. He was a Colonel in the Royalist Army during the Civil War and died at the battle of Melton Mowbray in 1644. He had one daughter only.
His Heir:

JOHN LAWSON, 1st BARONET of Brough Hall, died 1698. Inherited from his brother Henry. He was a Captain of horse in the Royalist Army. His Estates were confiscated by the Parliamentarians after they had won the Civil War and he went into exile with his family. Upon the restoration of the monarchy his estates were restored and he was made a baronet in 1665 by Charles II.
Married Catherine Howard, (1637-1668), sister of Charles Ist Earl of Carlisle.
They had many children but only two surviving sons who married and had issue:

1.HENRY 2nd BARONET (1653-1726). 2. WiLLIAM. Esq of City of York
Married Elizabeth. D 1728
Son: Son:
JOHN. 3rd BARONET (1689-1739). George
This line continues in Lawson: part2

His son& heir:

HENRY 4th BART(1712-1769) married Anastasia Maire, heiress.

His son & heir
JOHN 5th BART (1744-1811).
No male heirs so title and estates pass to 5th Bart’s younger brother who was:

HENRY (“Maire” Lawson) 6th BART (1750-1834)
On his death, he had no male heirs to succeed. The estate passed to his great nephew through the female line, William Wright, who assumed the name Lawson. The first baronetcy lapsed but in 1841 William was created a baronet in the second creation:

WILLIAM (“Wright”) Lawson (1796-1865) 1st BART in second creation
His heir:

JOHN (1829-1910) 2nd BART in ditto

His heir:
HENRY Joseph (1877-1947). 3rd BART in ditto. Married Ursula Mary Howard, of Corby Castle Cumbria.

His heir:
RALPH Henry (1905-1975). 4th BART in ditto. He had no male heirs so Brough Castle was left to his two daughters, jointly.

His younger brother inherited the title of baronet and the seat moved to Corby Castle:
WILLIAM HOWARD-LAWSON (1907-1990) 5th BART in ditto.
His son and heir:
JOHN PHILIP Howard-Lawson (b 1934) 6th BART in ditto. He assumed the use of the Howard name and arms in 1962 by Royal License. He then resumed the use of the Lawson name in 1992.
He sold Corby Castle in 1994.

His son is:

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