LAWSON, Sir Wilfred, 2nd Bt. (1664-1704), of Isel, Cumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1690 - 1695

Family and Education

bap. 31 Oct. 1664, 2nd but o. surv. s. of William Lawson of Isel (v.p. s. of Sir Wilfred Lawson, 1st Bt.†, of Isel) by Milcah, da. of Sir William Strickland, 1st Bt.†, of Boynton, Yorks.  educ. G. Inn 1681; Queen’s, Oxf. 1681.  m. 21 May 1692, Elizabeth (d. 1734), da. and h. of George Preston of Holker, Lancs., 3s. 3da.  suc. gdfa. as 2nd Bt. 13 Dec. 1688.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Cumb. 1689–90.


Lawson had succeeded to his family’s estates in 1688, but when he was appointed sheriff of Cumberland in 1689 he quickly sought, and was granted, permission to live outside the county. The following year he successfully contested the election at Cockermouth, where he held property, and was classed as a Court supporter by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) in a list of the newly elected Commons. On 1 Apr. 1690 the Commons received a petition from the bailiff and burgesses of Cockermouth contending that the return of Lawson had been illegal due to his serving as sheriff at the time of election. The petition was referred to the elections committee, but no report was made. Lawson’s impact upon the House was slight. In December 1690 he was included upon Carmarthen’s list of likely supporters in the Commons and, though noted by Robert Harley* in April 1691 as doubtful, he was listed as a Court supporter in Grascome’s list from the spring of 1693. On 4 Dec. 1693 Lawson was absent from a call of the House and was ordered to be sent for into custody, being discharged ten days later. Having been defeated at Cockermouth by Hon. Goodwin Wharton* at the 1695 election, Lawson petitioned, on 5 Dec. 1695, but no report was made. Lawson appears subsequently to have indulged a desire for travel, spending a month in Ireland in 1697 and in June 1699 journeying to France. He did not stand in 1698, though Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I, had expected him to do so, but when in the summer of 1700 news reached Lawson in France of the death of one of the Cumberland Members, he made known his wishes to stand at the by-election, but it was too late for him to mobilize any significant support. The dissolution in December 1700 removed the need for this by-election, but Lawson remained in France and registered no interest in the elections of January 1701. Before the second election that year, Lawson unsuccessfully lobbied Cumberland’s lord lieutenant Lord Carlisle (Charles Howard*) to support the candidacy of his cousin the Tory Gilfrid Lawson*. In 1702, however, Lawson stood with the support of the county’s Whig interest, obtained through the agency of Lady Lonsdale, the Whig widow of Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. II*, who was an uncle of Lawson’s wife, and upon an assurance to the Whig Lord Carlisle that Lawson ‘may be relied upon in his voting in the House’. Lawson finished the poll in second place, but following the decision of the Cumberland sheriff to disallow 46 of Lawson’s voters, his total equalled that of his cousin Gilfrid and it was the latter who was returned. Lawson petitioned against the return, but no report was forthcoming. On 7 Nov. 1704 Bishop Nicolson recorded the news of Lawson’s ‘dangerous illness’ and four days later noted his death. By the end of the month the details of Lawson’s will were made public, and Nicolson recorded that

he left about £600 in money; and £800 per annum. Each of his five younger children are to have £1,000, with power to his lady to advance any of them to £500 . . . The tithes of Blindcrake and Redmaine (all the impropriations that he had) are settled upon the vicar of Isel for ever. The £600 left to her Majesty, in recompense of all undue payments of his land-tax.

In April 1705 Lawson’s widow petitioned the crown against this final bequest and in August the Treasury, following a report from the attorney-general that ‘the codicil containing the bequest is so worded that it carries a presumption with it that the testator was not in his senses when he dictated it’, awarded the £600 to Lawson’s widow. Lawson was succeeded by his eldest son, who sat in the Commons during the reigns of the first two Hanoverian monarchs.2

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. HMC Le Fleming, 33; Nicolson and Burn, Cumb. and Westmld. ii. 96; Hutchinson, Cumb. ii. 241–2; J. Foster, Peds. of Yorks. Fams. ii. (Strickland); Lowther Corresp. ed. Hainsworth, 386–7, 401; IGI, Dublin.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 357; Cumbria RO (Kendal), Le Fleming mss WD/Ry 3750, [–] to Sir Daniel Fleming†, 26 Feb. 1689[–90]; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/25, Thomas Tickell to Sir John Lowther I, 2 Mar. 1689–90; D/Lons/ W2/2/2, James Lowther* to same, 24 June 1699; D/Lons/W2/2/3, same to same, 24 Aug., 3, 17 Sept. 1700; D/Lons/W2/2/5, same to same, 26 Mar. 1701[–2]; D/Lons/L1/1/46, Sir John Lowther I to Lady Lonsdale, 23 Sept. 1700; D/Lons/W1/22, same to same, Apr. 1702; D/Lons/W1/27, George Fletcher* to [Sir John Lowther I], 21 Apr. [1702]; Lowther Corresp. 248, 386–7, 401, 632; Hopkinson thesis, 102, 104–5; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 215–6, 237; Cal. Treas. Bks. xx. 27, 230–1, 431.