Sir Wilfred Lawson, MP

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Wilfred Lawson, MP

Birthdate:
Birthplace: England
Death: Died in England
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Lawson, of Usworth and Elizabeth Darrell
Husband of Margaret Lawson and Maude Lawson
Brother of Barbara Mitford; Gilfred Lawson; John Lawson; Margaret Swinburne; Catherine Lawson and 1 other

Managed by: Daniel Mark Howard
Last Updated:

About Wilfred Lawson, MP

Family and Education b. c.1545, 2nd s. of Thomas Lawson (d.1559) of Little Usworth, Washington, co. Dur. and Elizabeth, da. of Sir Edward Darrell† of Littlecote, Wilts.1 educ. Trin. Camb. 1562; G. Inn 1564.2 m. 1572, Matilda (d. 21 Sept. 1624), da. of Richard Redman of Levens, Cumb., wid. of Christopher Irton of Threlkeld, Cumb. and Thomas Leigh of Isel, s.p.3 kntd. 18 Apr. 1604.4 d. 16 Apr. 1632.5

Offices Held

J.p. Cumb. by 1582-d.;6 sheriff, Cumb. 1582-3, 1597-8, 1606-7, 1612-13;7 lt. hon. of Cockermouth, Cumb. 1591-d.;8 commr. musters, Cumb. and Westmld. 1593,9 member, High Commission, York prov. 1599,10 oyer and terminer, Northern circ. by 1602-d.,11 border malefactors 1605, 1618, 1619,12 subsidy, Cumb. 1608, 1621-2, 1624;13 dep. lt. Cumb. by 1627;14commr. Forced Loan, Cumb. 1627.15

Biography Lawson came from a Durham minor gentry family. His uncle Robert married an heiress and was elected for Northumberland in 1563. Lawson’s own marriage brought him an estate in Cumberland, and enabled him to buy out his nephew in the paternal property in county Durham.16 Better educated and a sounder Protestant than most of his neighbours, even such a zealous Catholic as Lord William Howard of Naworth confessed that he was ‘learned and sufficient’ on the county bench.17 As lieutenant of Cockermouth, Lawson was given ‘great countenance’ by the 9th earl of Northumberland, whom he kept informed with regular bulletins on the state of his holdings in Cumberland. With the earl’s support Lawson was elected knight of the shire for the second time in 1604.18

Following the opening of the first Stuart Parliament Lawson, who was knighted at Whitehall one month into the session, was named to three legislative committees. These concerned the naturalization of Lord Bruce, the Scottish master of the Rolls (4 May 1604), sheriffs’ accounts (5 May), and abuses by informers (1 June).19 On 8 Feb. 1605 Lawson was appointed to the new commission for the borders, renamed ‘the middle shires’ by royal command. He was the only salaried commissioner on the English side of the Western March, with a hundred marks a year and travelling expenses.20 On taking up his duties he wrote to the earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) commending ‘the honest care and forwardness we find in the Scottish commissioners to the furtherance of the service and advancement of justice without partiality’, and was optimistic that ‘in short time the people here, formerly inured to all kind of vice, shall be brought to know God and yield due obedience to the king and his laws’.21 However, relations with the Scottish commissioners, and with his opposite number in Northumberland, Sir William Selby*, could not invariably be maintained at this level of cordiality. Within a week he had the embarrassing task of reporting that 29 of the 33 prisoners awaiting execution in Carlisle Castle had escaped.22

The Gunpowder Plot presented a greater threat to his career, since it was observed that, like his patron Northumberland, Lawson was absent from the opening of the second session of Parliament, having obtained permission from Salisbury on a somewhat specious plea of infirmity to remain in the north for gaol deliveries at Carlisle and Newcastle.23 Moreover, as Northumberland’s deputy at Cockermouth, he had recently been in company with the conspirator Thomas Percy, who was collecting and embezzling his employer’s Michaelmas rents in the north to finance the plot.24 Northumberland was lodged in the Tower for many years, and his estates were taken into the king’s hands. However, Lawson was under no immediate suspicion, and an order to hand over Cockermouth Castle to Sir Henry Widdringon* was rescinded on 19 Nov. by the Privy Council, who informed him they ‘would not prejudice your reputation, for we know your good service’.25 The borders remained quiet, despite Percy’s connections with the area; but when Parliament met again in the New Year Lawson considered it fitter for him to stay in the country than travel to London. On 5 May 1606 he wrote to the Speaker, Sir Edward Phelips, who had held the assizes on the Northern circuit in 1604, to apologize for his absence from Parliament.26

Lawson’s long series of reports on the Percy estates in Cumberland had been interrupted by the Gunpowder Plot. Once they resumed he wrote to Northumberland on 26 Oct. 1606 that ‘although this be the first time I wrote unto you since the beginning of your trouble, I trust you will not impute it to negligence’.27 He again missed the third session because of his duties as convener of the border commission. He gave both charge and judgment at the Carlisle gaol delivery, no other commissioner being willing to take the responsibility. His isolation cannot have surprised him, as the bishop of Carlisle had warned him on 11 Mar. 1607 to ‘expect to bear the whole burden yourself as concerns the English part’.28 In the fourth session his status as an expert on law enforcement was recognized by nomination to the committee for the gaols bill (10 May 1610) and to the conference with the Lords of 5 July 1610 to discuss justice on the borders.29

Lawson was re-elected in 1614, but left no trace on the records of the Addled Parliament, though in its closing days he sued out a pardon in Chancery for the escapes from gaol during his shrievalty.30 He continued to serve diligently on various local commissions, including that for the Forced Loan of 1626-7, by which time he was over 80 years old. It was alleged that after his wife’s death he proposed to her granddaughter, Matilda Irton, to whom he had taken a great liking; but the young lady civilly refused him on grounds of consanguinity.31 He died childless and intestate on 16 Apr. 1632, and was buried at Isel.32 The estate was inherited by a nephew William, whose son Wilfred represented Cumberland in 1659 and 1660.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629 Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi Notes 1. Surtees, Dur. ii. 47. 2. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss. 3. Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xxiv. 21. 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 131. 5. C142/486/106. 6. Lansd. 35, f. 132; SP16/212, f. 10v. 7. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 28. 8. Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xxiv. 17. 9. HMC 10th Rep. IV, 305. 10. HMC Hatfield, ix. 397; xv. 394. 11. C181/1, ff. 19v, 131v; 181/2, ff. 4, 333v; 181/3, ff. 8, 262v; 181/4, ff. 14v, 120. 12. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 193; T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, pp. 38, 96. 13. SP14/31/1; 14/123/3; C212/22/21, 23. 14. SP16/73/41. 15. SP16/56/34. 16. Surtees, Dur. ii. 46-7; J. Nicolson and R. Burn, Cumb. and Westmld. ii. 95. 17. Naworth Household Bks. ed. G. Ornsby (Surtees Soc. lxviii), 30, 418. 18. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 268. 19. CJ, i. 198b, 199b, 299b. 20. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 193. 21. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 151. 22. Ibid. 160. 23. HMC 10th Rep. IV, 238-43; CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 237, 268. 24. Northumb. Estate Accts. ed. M.E. James (Surtees Soc. clxiii), 167, 173, 228. 25. HMC 10th Rep. IV, 240-2. 26. Ibid. 253; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 258. 27. Cumb. RO (Carlisle), D/Lec. 169. 28. HMC 10th Rep. IV, 265, 268, 272; P. Williams, ‘Northern Borderland under the Early Stuarts’ in Hist. Essays Presented to David Ogg ed. H.E. Bell and R.L. Ollard, 10-11. 29. CJ, i. 426b, 445b. 30. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 240. 31. Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xxiv. 20, 21. 32. Nicolson and Burn, Cumb. and Westmld. ii. 96.

Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Knight, was born in 1545 and died 16 April 1632.

Parents: Thomas Lawson d. BEF JUN 1559 (date of inquest) and Elizabeth Darrell d. AFT 19 MAY 1602 (date of will)

Married:

  1. Margaret, b. abt. 1550. She also married Thomas Swinburne b. ABT 1550 of Capheaton; their daughter Frances m. Anthony Patrickson.
  2. Maude or Matilda Redmain, daughter of Richard Redman, as her second husband. Inherited a share of the Manor of Great Orton from her first husband, Christopher Irton (1535-1562). Sold it (with her 3rd husband, Thomas Leigh (d. 1573)) in 1574.

Died without issue.

Brief Biography

In 1572, Sir Wilfrid, for he was a Knight, took for his second wife Maud (Matilda) Redmain, previously widow of Christopher Irton (died before 1567); and Thomas Leigh of Isel, heiress of his estates.[4] Upon her death in 1624, she conveyed her inheritance upon Lawson, as she had received it from Thomas Leigh. In consequence, Lawson became the sole possessors of the Isel estates.[5] In 1591 the Earl of Northumberland made him Lieutenant of the Honour of Cockermouth (Grand Steward of all his estates) and the Conveyor of the Commissioners of the Marches on his behalf.[6] Sir Wilfrid was Sheriff of Cumberland in 1582, 1597, 1606 and 1612.

In 1632, at the grand old age of 87 years, Sir Wilfrid Lawson died; childless by all his marriages, he bequeathed his estate upon William Lawson son of his brother Gilfrid; much to the great displeasure of Mary Irton (heir general of Maud Redmain). On the pretence that Maud had not made a legal conveyance to her third husband, but had acted upon gross intimidation, Mary Irton contested the rites of William. When settled by composition, Mary received for her title, the tithes of Blindcrake and the demesne of Threlkald, worth at that time an annual sum of two hundred pounds. William increased the property, marrying Judith Beweley, heiress to the manor of Hesket near Caldbeck and had issue by her.[7]

Events

  • 1562 Trinity Coll., Cambridge
  • 1564 Gray's Inn. abt 1591 Captain of Cockermouth Castle
  • Lived Isell, Cumberland Pre 1587
  • J.P. for Cumberland.
  • 1605 Border Commissioner
  • 1588 - \\ - 1613 Sheriff of Cumberland

Links

Citations

  • 4. Field p.178 (1937)
  • 5. Denton p.47 (1887)
  • 6. Ferguson p.394 (1871)
  • 7. Denton p.47 (1887)

Sources

  • F. J. Field (1937). An Armorial For Cumberland. Kendal.
  • John Denton (1887). Estates & Families In The County Of Cumberland From The Conquest Unto The Beginning Of The Reighn Of K. James (The First). Kendal.
  • R. S. Ferguson (1890). A History Of Cumberland. Carlisle.

-------------------- Born the son of Thomas Lawson, Little Usworth, County Durham.

In 1572, Sir Wilfrid took for his second wife Maud (Matilda) Redmain, previously widow of Christopher Irton (died before 1567); and Thomas Leigh of Isel, heiress of his estates.[4] Upon her death in 1624, she conveyed her inheritance upon Lawson, as she had received it from Thomas Leigh. In consequence, Lawson became the sole possessors of the Isel estates.[5]

In 1591 the Earl of Northumberland made him Lieutenant of the Honour of Cockermouth (Grand Steward of all his estates) and the Conveyor of the Commissioners of the Marches on his behalf.[6] Sir Wilfrid was High Sheriff of Cumberland in 1583, 1597, 1606 and 1612 and knight of the shire (MP) for Cumberland in 1593, 1604 and 1614. He was made a Knight in 1604.

In 1632, at the grand old age of 87 years, Sir Wilfrid Lawson died; childless by all his marriages, he bequeathed his estate upon William Lawson son of his brother Gilfrid; much to the great displeasure of Mary Irton (heir general of Maud Redmain). On the pretence that Maud had not made a legal conveyance to her third husband, but had acted upon gross intimidation, Mary Irton contested the rites of William. When settled by composition, Mary received for her title, the tithes of Blindcrake and the demesne of Threlkald, worth at that time an annual sum of two hundred pounds. William increased the property, marrying Judith Beweley, heiress to the manor of Hesket near Caldbeck and had issue by her.[7]

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