Were the Lawson Brothers Related to Thomas W. Lawson?

[Between 2009 and 2011, I maintained a TypePad blog, “More Fiends,” intended to update my book Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines. Those posts can still be found in the archive.org Wayback Machine, but I stopped updating that site in 2011. Because this WordPress site promotes and updates all my books, I’d like to republish some of those earlier posts.]

Posted 4/27/2010:

While researching Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines, I came across a clipping in which George H. Lawson claims he was a cousin of Thomas W. Lawson. Though few recognize his name today, Thomas W. Lawson was the Ted Turner/Richard Branson of his age (during the period 1890-1920). Thomas W. Lawson was a Boston millionaire, a financier who made a fortune in copper markets and stock manipulation. He spent his fortune freely on racing yachts, a lavish country estate replete with a folly tower, dog breeding for shows, racehorses, and writing books.

Coincidentally, one of T. W. Lawson’s first books was a glossary of baseball slang, The Krank, His Language and What It Means. However, I have not come across any mentions of T. W. Lawson being active in organized baseball. Lawson’s later books repudiated the shady Wall Street deals that had made him rich. His wealth dissipated, and he died in 1925 in debt.

I dismissed George Lawson’s claim to being a blood relative of Thomas W. Lawson as spurious–an obvious ploy to associate himself with a rich and famous namesake. But I have recently come across an article in which George’s brother, Colin T. Lawson, makes the same claim, i.e. that he was a cousin of Thomas W. Lawson. Colin specifically states that his father, Robert Henry Lawson (1829-1896) was a brother of Thomas W. Lawson’s father.

This prompted me to do a little genealogical digging. Thomas W. Lawson’s father was also named Thomas Lawson. He was born in 1828 in Sackford, Nova Scotia and died in Charleston MA in 1865. Robert Henry Lawson was born a year later, in 1829, in Bethnal Green, London. Census records from England indicate he had three younger siblings (none named Thomas), but no older brother. Moreover, RHL’s own father was a lifelong Bethnal Green resident. It seems almost impossible that he could have sired the Thomas Lawson born in 1828 in Nova Scotia.

So I think it’s safe to debunk this claim by the Lawson brothers; they were not first cousins to Thomas W. Lawson.

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