The Lawson Family
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewski, B.F.A.

My grandmother, Elspeth ("Alice") Lawson (nee Wilson) Malcolm
to whom this page is dedicated


Lawson means the "son of Law," which is a pet form of Lawrence. Lawrence means "a laurel, which is a symbol of victory." There was a Walter Loison who lived in Normandy from 1180-1195. It is thought that Lawson came the Norman name Lowe or St Lowe.


Lawson ~ Scottish. a garb, ppr. Motto: Dominus providebit, which means "The Lord will provide."

Lawson ~ Scottish. a leopard's head, erased, ppr. Motto: Surgo, lumen adest, which means "I arise, light is here."


The Lawson family belongs to the Clan MacLaren. The clan motto is: Creag an Tuire, which means "Boar's Rock." The Boar's Rock or Manse Rock is a large rocky hill that is sacred to the Maclarens.

For more on the MacLaren Clan CLICK HERE


Richard Lawson was a canon of St. Giles in 1370, and a John Larson lived in Linton around the same time. John McLaren was killed, in 1736, by Rob Roy's son Robin (at age 19). It was reported that John MacLaren, the clan chief, was shot in the back.


John Lawson was christened May 29, 1768, in Kettle Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland. He married June 19, 1784 to Elspeth Lawson, daughter of William Lawson and Isabel Gourlay. This is yet to be proven by anything but the parish records, and the fact that my grandmother knew Lawson was in the family tree, and that she was named after Elspeth Lawson, her great-great grandmother. She signed her name as Elspeth Lawson Wilson on many documents.

I found a Robert Lawson, innkeeper in Cupar, land records. His wife was listed as Mary Herauld in March 9, 1789. Robert's son was a weaver in Colinsburgh. He could possibly be the brother of John?

David Wilson was born August 11, 1771 (?). He married Elspeth Lawson (age 20)who was thirteen years younger than him, on November 17, 1804 in Cupar, Fifeshire, Scotland. Cupar is the market center for agricultural produce of the fertile Howe of Fife, and a Royal Burgh with its charter back to 1363. His occupation was given as farm servant on his son's death certificate. He was a poughman at Rhynd farm, which is located just northeast of Leuchars in Fife. Today Rhynd is an Equestrian Center. Elspeth was born September 29, 1789 in the parish of Kettle, Fifeshire, Scotland; to John Wilson and Elspeth Lawson.


Photo by J.M. Bassett.
Cuplahills Farm - 2000.

John Wilson was a farm laborer. John was born on March 28, 1827, at Randerston farm. Randerston was originally a 17th century building and lies 2 meters southeast off Crail Road. It is southeast of the village of Kingsbarns and is bounded by the North Sea. John was baptized on April 15, 1827 at Kingsbarns, Fifeshire, Scotland; to David Wilson (farm Servant) and Elspeth Lawson. Kingsbarn is situated a little inland between Babbet Ness and Cambo Ness. He was christened on March 28, 1827 (in Kingsbarn). He married Jean Murdoch on November 18, 1848, in Dunbog Manse, Fifeshire, Scotland (Kirk Session Record). John Wilson died September 25, 1871, in Cuplawhills Farms in the Parish of Leuchars. John died of Phthisis (TB) (at age 44 years), as reported by John Constable, M.D. I originally thought that Jean Murdock was born March 6, 1820 in Strathburn, Leuchars, Fifeshire, Scotland, and was baptized on April 2, 1820 in St. Athernase, Leuchars, Fifeshire, Scotland. Her minister was Rev. David Watson. I also thought that Jean was the daughter of David Murdock and Janet Robertson. David and Janet were married on July 5, 1817. I found a David Murdock, in the LDS Parish records. His christening date was January 1, 1818, in Leuchars, Fifeshire, Scotland, and he was Jean's older borther.

A Thomas Robertson was a writer in Cupar, and was involved in a deed sale with John Grieve, a merchant, on June 27, 1766. Now I know that Jean Robinson was not Jean's mother at all (see below).

The Murdock Family

In the 1851 census, John Wilson is 24 years of age and is listed as a agricultural laborer. His wife Jane is age 23 and is shown as being born in Springfield, Cupar Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland. In the September 1871 census, John (44 years) and Jane/Jean (44 years) were living in the cotter houses in Cuplawhills. At this time the farm was owned by Henry Stewart of the St Fort Estate in Forgan Parish. Andrew Hain was the tenant farmer there. By March 31, 1901, in Kingsbarns, Station House, Jean, mother of John (now age 45), is living with him, his wife, Elizabeth and their daughter Elizabeth (age 18). Station House was about a mile west of the village, and the track was closed in the 1950's. Jane will die in the home of her daughter, at Holmlea Cottage on Arthur Street, on December 13, 1901 (Sheddons) at age 74 years of age. Her death certificate was registered on December 30, 1901, in Cathcart, Refrewshire, Scotland.


Thomas Wilson Stationmaster and Elder in the United Free Church, was born March 27, 1851 in Leuchars Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland. He was christened on April 5, 1851 in Leuchars Parish. Thomas was the son of John Wilson and Jean Murdoch. He married (1) Isabella Cossar on June 9, 1876. Isabella was the daughter of Robert Cossar (tailor) and Isabella Robertson. Isabella died February 15, 1879 at Bridgend Parish, Bathgate (age 28) of consumption (TB). Mosty likely Isabella was sick for most of their three years of marriage. Thomas Wilson then married (2)Margaret McFarlane on August 8, 1879 in Bathgate, Linlithgow. Their marriage was only six months after his first wife died of TB. And I might note that both women were pregnant before they married. I am not sure that this might have been socially acceptable in this time period. Thomas married his first wife four (4) months before she gave birth and his second wife only three (3) months before birth. I would imagine that there was much gossip in this regard. Maggie was 21 years old at their marriage. Before their marriage, Maggie was hired on to do housework when Isabella got sick and could not do for herself. This was an age when men looked for the next wife immediately after their wife's death, especially if they had children that needed a mother. John was almost three years of age at his mother's death. Most likely Margaret had tended to young John's needs while his mother was sick? Tom was 28 years old at his second marriage.

Margaret was the daughter of Andrew McFarlane(laborer) and Jane Anderson. Margaret was born May 26, 1858 in Avonbridge, Muiravonside, Stirlingshire, Scotland. She died December 28, 1900 in Station House, Loanhead, MidLothian, Scotland (at age 42), after giving Thomas eight children. His third wife was Mary Henry Rathie. They had no issue.

Thomas Wilson died June 6, 1911 in Station House, Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland (at age 60).

Thomas Wilson's career in the North British Railway was as follows:

Source: Submitted by my cousin Bill Manley from a letter he received regarding North British Railway Company records, from the Scottish Records Office in Edinburgh on October 6, 1992.

See my own page regarding the Wilsons and the Clan Gunn

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