Two names, many shared histories

The Sea

The sea has played a large part in shaping the histories of the Garbutt and Lawson families.

Here you can read the posts that relate to the sea and maritime stories.

  • The wreck of the Canton

    In October 1837 ‘The Gleaner’, a local Canadian newspaper, published an account of the events surrounding the shipwreck of the Canton, that month.
    the information had been forwarded to their offices from “our correspondent at Harbour Maison, Magdalen Islands, 28th October”. This correspondent writes the account as a first hand witness; he had also interviewed survivors of the shipwreck.
    The following is the account:

    “the brig Canton, of Whitby, Garbutt, master left Gaspe, Oct 19, with a cargo of deals*,homeward bound, and struck on the west end of Brian Island. The Captain,accompanied by the boatswain, carpenter, and two seamen, left the wreck in the gig to land his wife and child on Brian Isand, since which they have not been heard of.
    About an hour after the gig left the brig, the mate, three seamen and 2 boys, left with the jolley boat, but could not effect a landing at Brian Island – but did here in safety.
    On the following morning the brig was driven over the east side of this island, laying among the breakers, where I left her on Wednesday last.
    On returning from the wreck I observed a boat on the shore, which induced me to land, and it proved to be the gig with Canton on her bows; it had been picked up by the inhabitants, with four oars and a trunk of wearing apparel,etc.
    As the mate informs me that nothing was taken in the gig when she first left the brig, I am led to suppose that they first effected a landing and returned, when in endeavouring to reach the shore a second time, the boat must have upset, and all hands perished.
    I have dispatched a vessel to Brian Island to bring off any person that may be there.
    29th – Since yesterday the bodies of two seamen have been picked up on the beach, and I am now using every means to obtain the remainder- Keefler’s Reading room”

    (*’deal’ is wood which was the return cargo on board the Canton. It is not known whether she was carrying cargo on her outward journey to the St Lawrence and Gaspe peninsula.)

    This account raises several questions:

    1)If the gig effected a landing on Brian island why did Cpt Garbutt not leave his wife and child there, before ( supposedly) returning to the Canton for the trunk?
    2) Was the mate correct in his understanding that the gig had NOT had the trunk on board when it left the brig for the first time?
    3) Why was the trunk of such importance that they decided to go back in dangerous conditions to the brig to retrieve it?
    4) Was there a return journey back to brig, in fact, or were all or some of the occupants of the gig drowned shortly after they left the brig?
    5) what are the conditions of the seas and coast like around Brian/ Brion island,in October.
    6) What happened to the wreck of the Canton? Was anything salvaged.
    7) Are there any other contemporary local accounts of this shipwreck or any official records, held locally?


  • Garbutts of Whitby pre19th century

    Captain William Garbutt was born in 1803. His mother’s name is on his indenture ( see previous post) where she is describes as ‘widow of York’.

    At the time of this post, her maiden name is unknown, but she appears to have died 3 years after William was indentured, in 1819, at the age of 55. This means that she was born in 1764. Eleanor’s husband is recorded in parish register as Zachariah, a name which was to recur several times within the Garbutt family. Zachariah Garbutt was a mariner ( a seaman or fisherman) of Whitby, born in 1752. He died in 1805, when this youngest son, William, was only 2 years old.

    From the parish records it appears that Zachariah and Eleanor had 6 children in total, of whom only possibly 3 survived. To complicate matters they appear to have given their first two children who died young, the same name as their sixth and final child: William. Looking at parish registers of this time and later, this seems to have been a common practice, but one which makes it difficult for those who are tracing family members!

    The couple’s first child ( William I) was born in 1785 and lived for a year, dying in 1786. It is likely that the next child ( William 2) was born in 1788 and that he too died, though to date his burial registration has not yet been uncovered. The third child was also a son, named Zachariah, born in 1791. He survived into adulthood and died at sea in 1833. Another child, Samuel, followed in 1795 but he too died after a year, in 1796. Then the couple had a daughter, Dorethy/ Dorothy, born in 1797, (date of death unknown as yet) Finally, in 1803, William Garbutt (later Captain) was born.

    This last William became a master mariner and married Jane Lawson, dying with her and their infant child in 1837 in the shipwreck of the Canton. William and Jane were related by both marriage and blood to Zachariah and Mary. Zachariah was William’s brother, born in 1791 and therefore 12 years older than William. He had married Jane Lawson’s sister, Mary, who had been born in 1799 and was therefore 9 years senior to Jane. Given that Zachariah Garbutt the father died in 1805 it is likely that Zachariah Garbutt, the elder brother who was also a mariner, took charge of supporting his widowed mother and her youngest child. It is also likely that Jane and William came to know each other through their married older siblings.

    Zachariah and Mary had several children, one of whom ( John Lawson Garbutt) also died at sea, like his father, and his uncle and aunt and baby cousin. The frequent occurrence of death at sea in the history of both the Garbutt and Lawson families through the 19th and even into the 20th century, shows how precarious this means of livelihood was. It would not be be surprising if other similar deaths were to be revealed in the record going back from Zachariah and Eleanor.


  • Apprenticeship indenture of William Garbutt 1816

    Indenture for William Garbutt b 1803. Transcript

    This Indenture made the fourth day of June in the 56th year of the reign of our sovereign Lord King George the Third and in the year of our Lord One thousand Eight hundred and sixteen between William Garbutt son of Eleanor Garbutt of Whitby in the County of York widow, of the one part, and Edward Chapman of the same place merchant – of the other part. Witnesseth that the said William Garbutt hath of his own free will and with the consent of his friends put and bound himself Apprentice to and with the said Edward Chapman and him after the manner of an apprentice to serve for the term of six years, to be computed from the day of the date hereof, and from thence to be fully completed and ended. During which term the said apprentice his said master shall and will faithfully and diligently serve to the utmost of his power; and shall do and perform all such reasonable and lawful service and business, as well at sea, on board of any ships and vessels which shall belong to, or be employed in the service of his said Master, and with and under such person and persons as he shall order or appoint – as on shore, or otherwise, as the Occasions of the said master shall from time to time require: and shall not do, nor wilfully suffer to be done by others, and Hurt, Prejudice, or Damage to the goods, Merchandise, or Affairs of his said Master; but the fame to the utmost of his power shall hinder, and him thereof forthwith warn. He shall not, at any time, absent himself from his said service, but in all things shall behave himself as a good and faithful apprentice during the said term.

    And the said Master, his said Apprentice, shall and will teach, or cause to be taught and instructed, in the art or business of a Seaman or Mariner, so far as shall be necessary, for the Voyages, wherein he shall be employed: and shall and will find and provide for his said Apprentice, sufficient meat, Drink, Washing and Lodging during the said term, except in the winter seasons, when the ship to which he shall belong shall lay by unrigged, during which time it is agreed that the said apprentice shall maintain himself, or be maintained by his friends; and in lieu and satisfaction thereof, the said Master shall pay him, the said Apprentice, the sum of Four shillings a week, weekly and every week, during such time as the said apprentice shall to be maintained by his said Master. And the said Master shall pay, or cause to be paid unto the said Apprentice, as and for Wages for such his service, the sum of Forty Pounds in manner following ( that is to say) five pounds for the first year, five pounds for the second year, six pounds for the third year, seven pounds for the fourth year, eight pounds for the fifth year, and nine pounds for the sixth and last year……..

    And for the performance of All and Singular the Covenants and Agreements aforesaid, each of the parties aforesaid doth bind himself unto the other firmly by these presents. in witness whereof the Parties above-named, to these present indentures interchangeably have set their hands and seals the Day and Year above-written.
    Signed, sealed and delivered In the presence of
    James Fawcett.Henry ? William Garbutt. Ed.Chapman

    Transcript of Second indenture for William Garbutt

    London 25 th June 1819

    These are to certify that the within named William Garbutt has been transferred over to Capt George Willis of the Economy who agrees to perform the conditions of this indenture towards the said William Garbutt

    Signed on behalf of the owners of the ?

    Abm? Jackson
    Geo Willis

    Advanced him by the owners of the ?Enuclous? £4 8. 6

  • Another tragedy at sea


    John (1885-1910) was the eldest son of John Lawson of Whitby (1855-1924) who had become Master of the Union workhouse and who later styled himself ‘Sir John’ and 10th Baronet ‘de

    jure’ of Brough.

    John was drowned on September 12th 1910 off Tuticorin, India. He was second officer of The SS Clan Leslie.

    He is commemorated on the Lawson gravestone in Whitby church, along with his ancestors.

  • The Canton

    The ‘Canton’ was owned by John Lawson ( the elder). Its master was registered as ‘William Garbutt’. William was born on 1803 and died in 1837. He married one of the daughters of John, Jane Lawson.

    The ‘Canton’ was a square-rigged coppered brig and its net tonnage was 273. John Lawson bought and registered it in 1830, the year of Jane’s marriage to William. Its certificate of registery was number 2 for that year. The ship was built in Whitby but was surveyed on the Clyde. It had a crew of twelve.

    On the 14th November 1837 the ‘Canton’ was on a return voyage from Gaspe to Britain. It ran into difficulties off the north west of Brion Island, part of the Magdalen Islands. On board were Captain William Garbutt, his wife Jane, and their baby William with 10 crew members. William, Jane and the baby left the floundering ship “in the gig” with four of the crew. They were never heard of again. The mate and five of the crew reached Magdalen island in the ‘jolly’ boat.

    Word of the disaster reached Halifax, Novia Scotia, and then Lloyd’s insurers in London in December 1837. However, the gravestone in Whitby records that the loss of the ‘Canton’ occurred in October.

    A model of the Canton was said to exist within the Garbutt family in the early part of the 20th century, but it appears to have been lost or thrown away at that time.



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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