As part of the St Paul’s skill sharing initiative I decided to make use of Julie Abbott’s offer to do some research into English ancestry. While my mother’s continental ancestry is quite well documented, the family didn’t know that much about the English connection. That comes in the figure of William Lawton. Unfortunately, William Lawton was not really present in his daughter’s up-bringing, but rather the distant father in far-away England. So his family history was not well known.
According to my mother’s information, he was born and died in Tooting, London. The location and dates made it possible for Julie to find more information on a man whose name is not that distinct.
Yes, his parents lived in Tooting and Julie also found the record for his baptism in St James, Islington in 1808. Why he was baptised north of the Thames, I do not know, but it seems that’s the general area where his grandparents lived.
We wondered whether William Lawton was related to the Lawtons of Lawton Hall, but that does not seem to be the case directly, as Julie’s research has shown. Instead, William’s grandfather is shown in several records with the enigmatic name Squire Lawton. The family seems to have lived in and around London for a few generations and Squire Lawton seems to have been a silversmith.
In later life William also lived for some time in Brighton, where his house was not far from the beach. Those basic dates may indicate a quite settled life, but it clearly was not. William Lawton was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Russian Army and married Auguste, the daughter of one of his superior officers, Christoph von Reutern, a lieutenant general in the Russian Army. Only one of William and Auguste’s eight children survived. William Lawton’s daughter was brought up by her maternal grandmother and later her aunt and made her way to Germany, where her blind cousin attended a special school. There that daughter of William Lawton married a German theology student. While we knew that part of our Russian and German history, the nature of our English ancestors has become a little clearer, though many questions remain.
With that in mind, I commend to you the opportunity of skill sharing in our Parish. You never know where it might lead you.