Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/299

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Lawson
Lawson
293


the parliament's service, and ever since the Lord has kept my heart upright to the honest interest of tne nation, although I have been necessitated twice to escape for my freedom and danger of my life at the treacheries of Sir Hugh Cholmley [q. v.] and Colonel Boynton at Scarborough in the first and second war ; my wife and children being banished two years to Hull, where it pleased God to make me an instrument in discovering and (in some measure) preventing the intended treachery of Sir John Hotham [q. v.], having met with other tossings and removals to my outward loss, suffering many times, by the enemy, at sea, my livelihood being by trade that way. During part of the first war I served at sea in a small ship of my own and partners, in which time, receiving my freight well, I had subsistence. Since that, I commanded a foot company at land near five years, and about three years last past was called to this employment in the state ships. ... At my return from the Straits the last summer, I resolved to have left the sea employment and to have endeavoured some other way to provide for my family; but this difference breaking out betwixt the Dutch and us, I could not satisfy my conscience to leave at this time. . . .' If he died in this employment he finally entreated Vane to 'become instrumental that my wife and children may be considered in more than an ordinary manner, for they have suffered outwardly by my embracing this sea service.'

The ship which he commanded in the parliament's service from 1642 to 1645 was the Covenant of Hull. In March 1643 he petitioned the commissioners of the navy to the effect that having been in the service for eight months, he had received only 530l. for payment of his men ; that he and his partners were 600l. 'out of purse;' and that there was due to him 1,590l. (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1643-5}. Of his service on land there is no record ; but in 1650 hie was again at sea commanding the Trade's Increase, a merchant ship in the employ of the parliament, and afterwards the Centurion, a state's ship, attending the army in Scotland (Penn, i. 297, 303). In November Vice-admiral Penn, being ordered to sail at once for Lisbon, hoisted his flag on board the Centurion, Lawson following m the Fairfax as soon as she could be got ready, exchanging back to the Centurion at Terceira on 22 Jan. 1650-1 (ib. i. 819) [see Penn, Sir William]. He continued with Penn during his Mediterranean command, and returned to England with him 1 April 1652. He was shortly afterwards moved into the Fairfax, which he commanded in the fleet under Blake in the North Sea in June, and in the battle of the Kentish Knock on 28 Sept. [see Blake, Robbert]. In the following spring he was vice-admiral of the red squadron m the battle of Portland, 18 Feb. 1652-1653, and co-operated with Penn in the critical manoeuvre which saved the day. The Fairfax received so much damage in the action that she was in need of very extensive repairs, and Lawson was moved (11 March) to the George, on board which he commanded as rear-admiral of the fleet and admiral of the blue squadron in the battles of 2-3 June and 29-31 July 1653 [see Monck, George, Duke of Albemarle]. For his services during the war he received one of the large fold medals and a chain worth 100l. Through 654 and 1655 Lawson, again in the Fairfax, which had been rebuilt, commanded the squadron emploved in the North Sea and the Channel. On 25 Jan. 1655-6 he was appointed as vice-admiral to command the Resolution with Blake off Cadiz ; but a few weeks later the commission was cancelled, and Lawson summarily dismissed from the state's service, apparently on political grounds.

Lawson was an anabaptist and a republican; and even if obedience to the naval maxim, 'It is not for us to mind state affairs, but to keep foreigners from fooling us.' may have prevented his taking any action against the Protector during the war, he regained his political independence when released from his command. Whether he engaged in any conspiracy in 1655 (Thurloe, iii. 185, vi. 830) is doubtful, though Charles II would seem to have believed that he might be won over to his cause (Cal. Clarendon State Papers, iii. 17) ; and he was probably implicated in the conspiracy of the Fifth-monarchy men in April 1657 (Thurloe, vi. 185; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 23 April 1657; Cal. Clarendon State Papers, iii. 257). On the discovery of the plot he, together with Harrison and others, was taken in custody by the sergeant-at-arms (ib. 29 July 1657, 26 March 1658) [see Harrison, Thomas, 1606-1660]. But he was soon released, retired to Scarborough, and remained there till the deposition of Richard Cromwell in May 1659, when he was appointed by the parliament to command the fleet in the Narrow Seas during the summer [see Mountagu, Edward, first {{sc|Earl of Sandwich], 'as well to prevent an invasion from Flanders as to balance the power of Mountagu's party' (Ludlow, p. 666; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 26 May 1659 ; Commons' Journals, vii. 666). In December he was commander-in-chief of the fleet in the Downs, and on the 13th sent up a declaration, signed by himself and the several captains of the fleet,