Lawson, George (1749-1820) (DNB00)

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LAWSON, GEORGE, D.D. (1749–1820), Scottish associate clergyman, born at the farm of Boghouse, in the parish of West Linton, Peeblesshire, on 13 March 1749, was the second son of Charles Lawson, by his wife Margaret Noble. His father was a carpenter as well as a farmer, and able to bestow a fair education upon George, the only one of his six sons who survived childhood. George was studious, and disinclined to manual labour, and his parents, intending him for the ministry, placed him under the care of the Rev. John Johnstone, secession minister at Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, afterward's Carlyle's pastor. Lawson proceeded to the university of Edinburgh, and later studied divinity under John Swanston of Kinross, and John Brown (1722-87) [q. v.] of Haddington, successively professors of theology in the associate secession (burgher) church of Scotland. He was licensed as a preacher in his twenty-second year, and receiving a call from the congregation of burgher 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.