Lawson, William

Pioneer of PM in Canada, born at Low Row near Brampton, Cumbria. A WM local preacher, steward and class leader, he was a shopkeeper in Brampton. William Clowes, hearing of PM work developing in the Carlisle area, began preaching there in November 1822. Lawson was expelled from WM for associating with the PM preachers and he and his wife (d. 1873, aged 71) became the first PM members there. When his business failed, he sailed from Maryport in April 1829 and settled in Toronto (then known as Little York). He began preaching there in the open air in July and the first PM class in Canada met at his home in September. Robert Walker, also from Brampton, gave him active support. Lawson's business prospered in Toronto and in 1834 he moved to Brampton, Ontario, where he opened a general store and helped to establish PM. He later returned to Toronto and eventually settled at Hamilton. When a Canadian District, largely independent of the British Connexion, was formed in 1842, Lawson became its secretary and Walker its treasurer.

  • Hopper, Mrs. R.P., Old-Time Primitive Methodism in Canada (1829-1884) (Toronto, 1904)
  • Elizabeth Hudson in WHS (Yorkshire Branch) 47 (September 1985) pp.6-11
  • Neil Semple, The Lord's Dominion: the history of Canadian Methodism (Montreal, 1996)


Entry written by: DCD and JAV
Category: Person
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