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HomePort is pleased to share information regarding the descendants and family of William Lawson and Elizabeth Jenkins, who married in Boston in 1743 and emigrated to Halifax, Nova Scotia, around 1750.

2nd Generation:

Elizabeth Foster
          LawsonJohn Lawson (1749-1828) the son of the emigrants was born in Boston and came to Halifax as an infant.  In 1769, he married Sarah Shatford, and together they had nine children. After Sarah's death at the age of 42, he married Elizabeth Foster in 1791.  John was a merchant in 1784, actively engaging in trade and was associated with other merchants in pursuing the cod fishery in 1811, and signed a petition to standardize the values of various foreign coin circulating in Halifax. 

During the Napoleonic Wars and War of 1812, when greater quantities of prize (seized) goods were brought in and sold at auction than the commerce of the colony could handle Lawson signed a petition seeking permission to export to the United States portions of the goods particularly adapted to the American market.  Commissioned as a Magistrate, he resigned that position in 1813.  At the time of his death he owned shares in an iron manufactory, the Shubenacadie Canal, and the ship Pacific which was on a whaling voyage.

Elizabeth Foster (1756-1819) was born in Boston, the daughter of Edward Foster, a master blacksmith who was "proscribed and banished,"  in 1776, for having done work for the British in
his foundry.  Elizabeth and her family came with Boston Loyalists to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, where Elizabeth married Dr. Handyside, a Naval surgeon. After he died, she married in 1791, John Lawson, a fellow transplanted Bostonian who was also a widower.

3rd Generation:
Hon. William Lawson (1772-1848) Hon. William Lawson (1772-1848), was the son of John Lawson and Sarah Shatford. He is best remembered as a founding director and the first president of the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotia Bank). As a member of the House of Assembly he introduced a bill chartering a public bank. The bill provided double security as a means of building trust through ensuring the savings of depositors were secure. The novel concept provided stability to the fledgling bank which prospered and spread quickly from an idea that hatched in the Merchants' Coffee House, Halifax becoming an international financial institution.  Besides his mercantile and shipping ventures he served as an elected member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly for thirty years and was appointed to the Council for seven years beyond that. He married Elizabeth Handyside (b. 1775) who was the daughter of his step-mother (above) from a previous marriage. Although technically step-brother and step-sister, the couple were not biological relatives. William & Elizabeth had 14 children. William was the third generation in this Lawson line to live in Nova Scotia. Other members in this line made contributions to a variety of fields. Often their roles were at a time when new processes or institutions were developing within Canada.  They are listed by generation.
Bioographies of William in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and Wikipedia place his contributions in context.

4th Generation:
Sarah Lawson, married Hon. Charles Rufus Fairbanks, an active Halifax entrepreneur and member of the House of Assembly. His unfailing commitment to connect Halifax harbour to the Bay of Fundy though a set of canals produced the ambitious Shubenacadie Canal. The legacy of the canal, now partially restored, remains a treasure for recreational boaters and hikers. 

Charles Fenerty (1821-1892) is credited as the inventor of the modern paper-making process using pulp made from spruce wood chips. His experiments produced usable paper in a process which he explained in The Acadian Recorder on October 26, 1844.

Hon. John L. Lawson (1794-1874), was Solicitor-General of Prince Edward Island, member of the Legislative Assembly and the Recorder of the City of Charlottetown (CEO). He was one of six lawyers practicing on PEI when he arrived from Nova Scotia. His book describing life on PEI was published as, Letters on Prince Edward Island.

5th Generation:

Jessie Jane Lawson (1838-1901), married Rev. George Monro Grant, a Halifax minister, whose career took him across Canada as Secretary to the expedition led by Sanford Flemming, the Engineer-in-Chief of the proposed transcontinental railway in 1872. The expedition which was documented in Grant's best selling book, Ocean to Ocean, describes the vast and growing country. Grant became Principal of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and became a leading figure in Canada, including a term as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.  Materials at Queen's tells of his career and of the Grant family.

Edward Lawson Fenerty (1843-1932) invented and patented the Peerless Club self-fastening skate. He manufactured skates and other products in Halifax, during a time when hockey and skating in Nova Scotia where fast growing ice sports.

Henry Lawson (1829-1897), was Editor of the Charlottetown Patriot and the Summerside Progress, at the same time, eventually buying the Patriot. He was a writer for the Toronto Globe, both the Montreal Herald  and the Montreal Star, before assuming the editorship in 1888 of the Victoria Colonist, in Victoria BC.

Dr. Archibald Lawson (c1843-1919), of Halifax, NS married Anna Eliza Mitchell. Archibald was a prominent medical doctor; he and Anna were parents of American Impressionist painter Ernest Lawson. (1873-1939).

6th Generation:

James George Aylwin Creighton (1850-1930), "the Great JGA", took the game of hockey - which he had learned in his native Nova Scotia - to other parts of Canada. Moving to Montreal he introduced the game to friends with hand carved sticks sent by friends in Halifax. In the first public hockey game held indoors - in Montreal on March 3, 1875 - JGA was captain of the winning team. Called Canada's Father of Organized Hockey - when he moved to Ottawa to serve as Law Clerk of the Canadian Senate, he played with William and Arthur Stanley, the sons of Lord Stanley and Dad realized a need for recognition within their new sport. Being the Governor-General of Canada at the time, Lord Stanley donated the trophy which is now know as the Stanley Cup.

The work of American/Canadian Impressionist painter Ernest Lawson (1873-1939) who was born in Halifax, NS is well documented in gallery collections. Robert Henri insisted that, among landscape artists, he was "the biggest we have had since Winslow Homer."

William Lawson Cotton, (1848-1928) was Editor of the Charlottetown Patriot, and a leading figure in Prince Edward Island. William married Margaret Ellin Harris, a sister of prominent Canadian portrait painter, Robert Harris, and William Critchlow Harris an important Maritime architect.

William Lawson Grant (1872-1935) was born in Halifax and educated at Queen's University and taught history there. However, he is most noted for his principalship at Upper Canada College. Under W. L. Grant, attendance at Upper Canada College more than doubled, and improvements were made to buildings, staff and curriculum. A life time advocate of learning opportunities for adults, particularly in the fields of liberal education and citizenship training he was a founder and first president of the Workers' Educational Association of Ontario and played a leading role in establishment of the Canadian Association for Adult Education.

John "Jack" Lawson (1854-1947) was born in New London, Prince Edward Island and was first associated with the Cambridge Press, Cambridge, Mass., and then with the Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.  Later, he worked with small newspapers in Minnesota including Northfield, and was well known throughout the state as a political writer, writing under the pen name, " TOM NOSWAL. "  [Lawson spelled backward].  Upon leaving the newspaper field, he located in Chicago and was associated with Donnelly Press until he was 79 years of age.  When he was 80, the company asked him to return and resume his work but he chose to retire. He lived to the age of 92.

7th Generation:

Philosopher George Parkin Grant (1918-1988), has been described as "one of Canada's most significant thinkers." 

The legacy of philanthropist Robert Lawson Cotton (1881-1968), continues to enrich the lives of students and communities on Prince Edward Island. His efforts in rural beautification and the donation of parkland significantly enriched PEI. Over his lifetime his donations including a major contribution to the building of Confederation Centre so that it would include an art gallery. One calculation of his total philanthropic efforts, in 2003 currency, has been estimate at $10 Million. 

John Lefurgey Lawson, a reporter for The Chicago Tribune, was one of the best-known newspapermen in the American Midwest. He met a tragic death in 1914 when he fell down an elevator shaft in the Chicago Press Club Building. In reporting the case The New York Times indicated that "It is believed that he opened the door of the elevator shaft used for freight, mistaking it for the door of the lavatory adjoining, and stepped in before realizing his mistake. Among editors and reporters Mr. Lawson generally was considered "the best reporter in Chicago.'" As an investigative reporter who had been involved with covering many important stories, questions remain, regarding the mysterious death. An article thirty years later indicated that "he was associated with the Chicago Tribune and was killed while with that publication.  How he met death has never been known but at the time he was conducting a quack doctor campaign in Chicago."

Harry Alexander Lawson, like his brother, John Lefurgey Lawson carried on the newspaper tradition of his father Jack and grandfather Henry becoming editor of The Eagle Rock Sentinel, in Los Angeles.

Thomas Grantham Norris (1893-1976), was born in Victoria, British Columbia, and articled with the law firm Barnard, Robertson and Heisterman.  Admitted to the B.C. bar in 1919, Norris practised in Vernon and Kelowna as a lawyer for the Soldier Settlement Board and later in private practice. He moved to Vancouver and continued to work in private practice until 1959 when he was appointed to the B.C. Supreme Court, and in 1960 was elevated to the B.C. Appeal Court. In 1961 he also sat on the Canadian Court Martial Appeal Board as well as acting Deputy District Judge of the Admiralty. Norris was president of the Kelowna and Vancouver Board of Trade, and president of the Vancouver Bar Association. Serving as a Bencher of the Law Society from 1944 to 1957 he was elected Treasurer of the Law Society of B.C. from 1957 to 1958. Justice Norris gained an international profile when he was placed in charge of the "Industrial Commission as to Shipping in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River System," in 1963. Violence and conflict between international unions had caused the "Great Lakes Shipping Dispute" and Norris was appointed sole commissioner of hearings over a sixteen month period. At the time the notorious Hal Banks, was leader of the Seamen's International Union - Justice Norris concluded that Banks was "a bully, cruel, dishonest, greedy, power hungry, contemptuous of the law."  Banks, an American with Mafia connections fled Canada in 1964 after charges were laid against him, and efforts by the Canadian authorities to have him extradited to face charges failed.

8th Generation:

Michael Ignatieff PhD, an international scholar, professor, and writer who served in Canada's Parliament as leader of the Official Opposition. The author of 16 books - including True Patriot Love, which tells the story of his maternal (Lawson-Grant) roots. His official website michaelignatieff.ca includes a biography.

Hon. Frederick Walter Hyndman (1904-1995) served as the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island.  Well know for his work in pioneering radio broadcasts, he along with a group of young radio enthusiasts were on the cutting edge of an emerging technology. Walter enjoyed operating his "radio shack" even moving his equipment into Government House, the official residence of Lieutenant Governors during his term in office.

Betty (Rogers) Large, (1913-1990), tells of the history of broadcasting in Prince Edward Island through her book Out of Thin Air. As it involved several generations of Betty's family - the book documents both family history as well as significant developments in Island history. Betty began her own broadcasting career at the age of 12. Over sixty years later she was still involved in the broadcasting field in retirement; her love of Barbados inspired her to write and item that was purchased and broadcast by BBC.

Peter Lawson Smith. PhD (1933-2006) was professor of Classics at University of Victoria with a long affiliation with the institution. As his university states. "classical scholar, author, honorary UVic historian, Dr. Peter Lawson Smith has been a major contributor to the development of the University of Victoria."

Do you have information that would be helpful in correcting or adding to the contents of HomePort ?  We appreciate your comments, suggestions and additions.

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