The son of the Rev. D. Ledger Pawson (1862-1934; e.m. 1889),he was born on 17 May 1897. The family may have been descended from a brother of the early itinerant John Pawson. He studied agriculture in Durham and later achieved an MSc in 1946 for a thesis on hay production on hill farms. He was lecturer (1917-1948) and Professor (1948-1957) of Agriculture at Newcastle University. During World War II he served as Chief Technical Adviser to the Northumberland War Agricultural Executive Committee. As a local preacher from 1917 he always 'preached for a verdict' and 3,000 responded to his call. He was Vice-President of the 1951 Conference. He wrote many articles for the religious press. Among his books were Cockle Park Farm (1960), an account of the Northumberland Agricultural Experimental Station with which he was long associated, Agriculture of Northumberland (1961), Personal Evangelism (1968) and an autobiography, Hand to the Plough (1973). He died at Newcastle upon Tyne on 19 December 1978.
His son David Pawson entered the ministry in 1952, but left it and joined the Baptists in 1961, disagreeing over infantbaptism. Among his books is Explaining Water Baptism (c. 1992).