Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/296

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Lawson
Lawson
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seceders at Selkirk, was ordained their pastor on 17 April 1771. Mungo Park was one of his congregation.

Lawson knew the Scriptures by heart, and much of them in Hebrew and Greek. He left at his death some eighty large volumes in manuscript, forming a commentary on the Bible. He frequently preached extempore with great facility, and, though he was well read in philosophy, history, and science, with attractive simplicity. On the death of Brown, Lawson was chosen his successor in the chair of theology (2 May 1787). He discharged its duties faithfully until his death on 21 Feb. 1820. In 1806 the university of Aberdeen conferred upon him the degree of D.D. His habit of life was singularly simple. He is supposed to have been the original of Josiah Cargili in Scott's 'St. Ronan's Well.' He was so absent-minded that he is said to have forgotten the day fixed for his marriage.

Lawson married, first, Miss Roger, the daughter of a Selkirk banker, who died within a year of the marriage; and secondly, the daughter of Mr. Moir, his predecessor in Selkirk, widow of the Rev. Mr. Dickson of Berwick. By her he had five daughters and three sons; two of the latter, named George and Andrew, were in turn their father's successors in Selkirk.

Lawson's chief works are: 1. 'Considerations of the Overture lying before the Associate Synod on the Power of the Civil Magistrate in matters of Religion.' 1797. 2. 'Discourses on the Book of Esther, with Sermons on Parental Duties, Military Courage, &c.' 1804; 2nd edit. 1809. 3. 'Discourses on the Book of Ruth, with others on the Sovereignty of Divine Grace.' 1805. 4. 'Lectures on the History of Joseph.' 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1807; other editions 1812 and 1878. 5. 'Sermons on the Death of Faithful Ministers; Wars and Revolutions: and to the Aged.' Hawick, 1810. And posthumous. 6. 'Exposition of the Book of Proverbs.' 1821. 7. 'Discourses on the History of David, and on the introduction of Christianity into Britain.' Berwick, 1833. 8. 'Reflections on the Illness and Death of a beloved Daughter.' Edinburgh, 1866. Lawson contributed a number of articles to the 'Christian Repository,' an evangelical serial commenced in London in 1815; and other papers appeared in the 'United Secession Magazine.'

[Obit. notice in the Christian Repository, 1820, v. 193-221, by the Rev. Mr. Lothian of Edinburgh; Memoir by Dr. Belfrage of Falkirk, prefixed to Dr. Lawson's Discourses on the History of David; Life and Times of George Lawson, D.D., Selkirk, by Rev. John Macfarlane, LL.D.. 1862]

H. P.

LAWSON, HENRY (1774–1855), astronomer, was the second son of Johnson Lawson, dean of Battle in Sussex, and of Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Wright of Bath. He was born at Greenwich on 23 March 1774, was a pupil of Dr. Burney, and entered as an apprentice the optical establishment of his stepfather, Edward Nairne [q. v.] of Cornhill. He, however, never engaged in business, but devoted himself to private scientific study. He lived with his mother until her death in 1823, when he married Amelia, daughter of Thomas Jennings, vicar of St. Peter's, Hereford. Fixing his residence in that town, he equipped an observatory with a five-foot refractor in 1826, and with one of eleven feet in 1834, considered by Dollond the finest telescope he had ever made. He observed there an occultation of Saturn on 8 May 1832 (Monthly Notices, ii. 111), Galle's first comet in December 1839 and January 1840 (ib. v. 9), and recorded the falling stars of 12-13 Nov. 1841 (ib. p. 173). A relative having left him a fortune, he removed to Bath in 1841, and mounted his instruments on the roof of his house at No. 7 Lansdowne Crescent. He published in 1844 a paper 'On the Arrangement of an Observatory for Practical Astronomy and Meteorology, and in 1847 a brief 'History of the New Planets.' The Society of Arts, of which he was a member, voted him a silver medal for the invention of an observing-chair called 'Reclinea.' and awarded him a prize for a new thermometer-stand, described before the British Association in 1845 (Report, ii. 17). He made communications to the same body in 1846 and 1847 on solar telescopic work (ib. ii. 9), and published in 1853 accounts of a 'lifting apparatus' for invalids, and of a 'surgical transferrer,' both contrived by himself. Lawson offered in December 1851 the whole of his astronomical apparatus, with a thousand guineas, to the town of Nottingham, on condition of money enough being raised to build an observatory and endow it with 200l. a year; but the plan failed of realisation through disputes about the valuation of the instruments. His eleven-foot telescope was later presented to the Royal Naval School at Greenwich, that of five feet to Mr. W. G. Lettsom, and his meteorological appliances to Mr. E. J. Lowe of Beeston, Nottinghamshire. Lawson devoted much time to promoting the scientific pursuits of young people, and dispensed liberal and unostentatious charity. He died at Bath in his eighty-second year, a few weeks after his wife, on 22 Aug. 1855, and was buried at Weston. The last of his family, he bequeathed to Miss Agnes Strickland several relics of