William Lawson (explorer)

Last updated


William Lawson
Portrait of William Lawson.jpg
ca. 1840s – watercolour on ivory figure
Member of Legislative Council of New South Wales
In office
11 July 1843 (1843-07-11) 20 June 1848 (1848-06-20)
Personal details
Born(1774-06-02)2 June 1774
Middlesex, England
Died16 June 1850(1850-06-16) (aged 76)
Prospect, NSW
CitizenshipFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Relatives John Street (son-in-law)
Known for 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains

William Lawson (2 June 1774 – 16 June 1850) was an English-born Australian explorer, land owner, grazier and politician who migrated to Sydney, New South Wales in 1800. Along with his close friends and colleagues Gregory Blaxland and William Wentworth, he pioneered the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains by European settlers.

Contents

Early life and migration to Australia

Lawson was born in Finchley, Middlesex, England son of Scottish parents who had lived at Kirkpatrick. He trained as a surveyor but later bought a commission in the New South Wales Corps and migrated to Sydney, arriving in November 1800. [1] Shortly after his arrival he was posted to work at the military station at Norfolk Island. It was here that he met Sarah Leadbeater whom he married and had eleven children. [2]

By 1813, when Lawson was invited by Gregory Blaxland to join him in attempting to cross the Blue Mountains, he had become an established colonial officer and pastoralist in New South Wales with lands in Concord and Prospect. [2]

Crossing the Blue Mountains

William Lawson - Journal of an expedition across the Blue Mountains. Lawson's Journal.jpg
William Lawson – Journal of an expedition across the Blue Mountains.

Lawson commenced his exploration of the Blue Mountains alongside Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth on 11 May 1813. He kept a journal of the expedition titled, 'W Lawsons Narrative. Across Blue Mountains [sic]'. [3] In his first entry he writes:

Mr. Blaxland Wentworth and myself with four men and four Horses- Laden with Provisions etc- took our Departure on Tuesday the 11th May 1813. Crossed the Nepean River at Mr. Chapman's Farm Emma Island at four o'clock and proceeded SW. Two miles. Encamped at 5 o'clock at the foot of the first [Nioji] of Hills-. [3]

On 31 May 1813, the party reached the most westerly point of their expedition, now known as Mount Blaxland. [2] On this day, Lawson writes:

...this Country will I have no doubt be a great acquisition to this Colony and no difficulty in making a good Road to it, and take it in a Political point of View if in case of our Invasion it will be a safe Retreat for the Inhabitance with their Familys and that for this part of the Country is so formed by Nature that a few men would be able to defend the passes against a large body. [3]

Later life

After the crossing, Lawson, like Blaxland and Wentworth, was rewarded with a grant of 1,000 acres (4 km²) of land by Governor Macquarie. He selected his land along the Campbells River, part of the Bathurst settlement for which he was appointed Commandant until his retirement in 1824. Whilst Commandant he continued to undertake expeditions, and in 1821, with Constable Blackman, discovered the Cudgegong River and further explored Mudgee and its outlying regions. [4]

After Lawson retired from the army he entered politics and became a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council for County of Cumberland from 1843 to 1848. [5] He died at his estate, Veteran Hall in Prospect, on 16 June 1850. [4] The town of Lawson in the Blue Mountains is named after him.

Following Lawson's death, Veteran Hall was eventually acquired by the Metropolitan Water Board and most of the granted property is now submerged by the waters of Prospect reservoir. The house was demolished in 1926. His daughter Susanna Caroline Lawson married John Rendell Street, founder of the Street dynasty. [1]

In 1963 Lawson was honoured, together with Blaxland and Wentworth, on a postage stamp issued by Australia Post depicting the Blue Mountains crossing. [6]

Related Research Articles

Blue Mountains (New South Wales) Region in New South Wales, Australia

The Blue Mountains are a mountainous region and a mountain range located in New South Wales, Australia. The region borders on Sydney's metropolitan area, its foothills starting about 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of centre of the state capital, close to the major suburb of Penrith. The public's understanding of the extent of the Blue Mountains is varied, as it forms only part of an extensive mountainous area associated with the Great Dividing Range. Officially the Blue Mountains region is bounded by the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers in the east, the Coxs River and Lake Burragorang to the west and south, and the Wolgan and Colo rivers to the north. Geologically, it is situated in the central parts of the Sydney Basin.

Gregory Blaxland English explorer in Australia

Gregory Blaxland was an English pioneer farmer and explorer in Australia, noted especially for initiating and co-leading the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains by European settlers.

William Wentworth Australian poet, explorer, journalist and politician

William Charles Wentworth was an Australian explorer, journalist, politician and author, and one of the leading figures of early colonial New South Wales. He was the first native-born Australian to achieve a reputation overseas, and a leading advocate for self-government for the Australian colonies.

Great Western Highway Highway in New South Wales

The Great Western Highway is a 201-kilometre-long (125 mi) state highway in New South Wales, Australia. From east to west, the highway links Sydney with Bathurst, on the state's Central Tablelands.

Blaxland, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Blaxland is a town in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. Blaxland is located 70 kilometres west of Sydney in the local government area of the City of Blue Mountains. It is at an altitude of 234 metres and borders the townships/suburbs of Glenbrook, Mount Riverview and Warrimoo.

George Evans (explorer) Australian explorer

George William Evans was a surveyor and early explorer in the Colony of New South Wales. Evans was born in Warwick, England, migrating to Australia in October 1802.

Division of Wentworth Australian federal electoral division

The Division of Wentworth is an Australian electoral division in the state of New South Wales.

Prospect, New South Wales Suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Prospect is a suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Prospect is located 32 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district in the local government area of the City of Blacktown and is part of the Greater Western Sydney region. One of the oldest suburbs in Sydney, Prospect takes its name from the prominent nearby landmark of Prospect Hill - from the top of which people could get a prospect of the surrounding countryside.

1813 in Australia featured a number of important developments. Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth crossed the Blue Mountains which opened up the interior of New South Wales for European settlement. John and Elizabeth Macarthur sent the first wool exports from their properties.

Sir Maurice Charles Philip O'Connell KCH was a commander of forces and lieutenant-governor of colonial New South Wales.

Bowenfels, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Bowenfels is a small town on the western outskirts of Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia.

Mount York mountain in New South Wales, Australia

Mount York, a mountain in the western region of the Explorer Range, part of the Blue Mountains Range that is a spur off the Great Dividing Range, is located approximately 150 kilometres (93 mi) west of Sydney, just outside Mount Victoria in New South Wales, Australia. Mount York has an elevation of 1,061 metres (3,481 ft) AHD  and is a projection of the Blue Mountains dissected plateau, creating a promontory of the western escarpment with a minor rise at its summit.

The Central Tablelands in New South Wales is a geographic area that lies between the Sydney Metropolitan Area and the Central Western Slopes and Plains. The Great Dividing Range passes in a north–south direction through the Central Tablelands and includes the Blue Mountains. The region shares borders with the Hunter, Central West Slopes and Plains, Southern Tablelands, North Western Slopes and Plains, the Sydney Metropolitan Area and the Illawarra.

OConnell, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

O’Connell is a village in New South Wales, Australia. The village, classified by the National Trust of Australia, is 23 kilometres from Oberon on the O'Connell Road. At the 2006 census, O'Connell and the surrounding area had a population of 355.

Explorers tree Historic Blue Mountains ash

The Explorers Tree is a Blue Mountains Ash tree located at Explorers Hill, about 5 km west of Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia.

1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains Australian mountaineering expedition

The 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains was the expedition led by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth, which became the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales by European settlers. The crossing enabled the settlers to access and use the land west of the mountains for farming, and made possible the establishment of Australia's first inland settlement at Bathurst.

Mount Blaxland (New South Wales)

Mount Blaxland, actually a hill, is located about 25 kilometres south of Lithgow at longitude -33.548500061, latitude 150.117904663. It was the furthest point reached by Blaxland, Lawson, and Wentworth on their historic 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains.

John Street (Australian politician) Australian politician (1832-1891)

John Rendell Street, MLC was an Australian businessman, banker and politician. He served as the successor of Sir Edmund Barton, 1st Prime Minister of Australia, in his New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of East Sydney, holding this office until his death on the 23rd of March, 1891. A descendant of the English Baron Sir Thomas Street, John Street is the founder of Australia's Street family.

European land exploration of Australia aspect of history

European land exploration of Australia deals with the opening up of the interior of Australia to European settlement which occurred gradually throughout the colonial period, 1788–1900. A number of these explorers are very well known, such as Burke and Wills who are well known for their failed attempt to cross the interior of Australia, as well as Hamilton Hume and Charles Sturt.

St Bartholomews Anglican Church and Cemetery, Prospect Church in New South Wales, Australia

St Bartholomew's Anglican Church and Cemetery is a heritage-listed former Anglican church and cemetery at Ponds Road, Prospect, City of Blacktown, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Henry Robertson and built from 1838 to 1840 by James Atkinson. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999. Since 1975, the site has been leased to the Council of the City of Blacktown.

References

  1. 1 2 Dunlop, E W. "Lawson, William (1774–1850)". Australian Dictionary of Biography . Melbourne University Press. ISSN   1833-7538 . Retrieved 11 April 2013 via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  2. 1 2 3 Jensen, Jo; Peta Barrett (1997). Blaxland, Lawson & Wentworth. Slacks Creek, Qld: Future Horizon Publishing. ISBN   0958762295.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Lawson's journal – 1813". Discover Collections. State Library of NSW. 1822.
  4. 1 2 Percival Serle. "Lawson, William (1774–1850)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Angus and Robertson (1949). Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  5. "Mr William Lawson (1774–1860)". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales . Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  6. Australian 5d postage stamp showing Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth's mountain crossing. australianstamp.com

Additional resources listed by the Australian Dictionary of Biography


New South Wales Legislative Council
New creation Member for County of Cumberland
Jul 1843 Jun 1848
With: Charles Cowper
Succeeded by
Nelson Lawson