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Lawson, Sir John

LAWSON, SIR JOHN (d. 1665), British sailor, was born at Scarborough. Joining the parliamentary navy in 1642, he accompanied Penn to the Mediterranean in 1650, where he served for some time. In 1652 he served under Blake in the Dutch War and was present at the first action in the Downs and the battle of the Kentish Knock. At Portland, early in 1653, he was vice-admiral of the red, and his ship was severely handled. Lawson took part in the battles of June and July in the following summer. In 1654-1655 he commanded in the North Sea and the Channel. Appointed in January 1655-1656 as Blake's second-in-command, Lawson was a few weeks later summarily dismissed from his command, probably for political reasons. He was a Republican and Anabaptist, and therefore an enemy to Cromwell. It is not improbable that like Penn and others he was detected in correspondence with the exiled Charles II., who certainly hoped for his support. In 1657, along with Harrison and others, he was arrested and, for a short time, imprisoned for conspiring against Cromwell. Afterwards he lived at Scarborough until the fall of Richard Cromwell's government. During the troubled months which succeeded that event Lawson, flying his flag as admiral of the Channel fleet, played a marked political role. His ships escorted Charles to England, and he was soon afterwards knighted. Sent out in 1661 with Montagu, earl of Sandwich, to the Mediterranean, Lawson conducted a series of campaigns against the piratical states of the Algerian coast. Thence summoned to a command in the Dutch War, he was mortally wounded at Lowestoft. He died on the 29th of June 1665.

See Charnock, Biographia navalis, i. 20; Campbell, Lines of the Admirals, ii. 251 ; Penn, Life of Sir William Penn; Pepys, Diary.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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