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date: 27 September 2023

Lawson, Williamfree


Lawson, Williamfree

  • John Considine

Lawson, William (1553/4–1635), writer on gardening and Church of England clergyman, was probably a member of the extensive northern English gentry family of Lawson, but his parents' names are not known. He was ordained deacon in 1580, and became vicar of Ormesby, near Teesmouth, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, in 1583. He spent the rest of his life there. His first wife, Sibille, with whom he had two children, was buried at Ormesby in 1618; on 28 April 1619 he married Emme Tailer, who survived him. His only book, A new orchard and garden, or, The best way for planting, grafting, and to make any ground good for a rich orchard; particularly in the north parts of England, was published by Roger Jackson in 1618, with a dedication to a connection of one branch of the Lawsons, Sir Henry Belasyse. It was the first published work on gardening in the north of England, and its second section, The Countrie Housewifes Garden, was the first horticultural work written specifically for women (there would not be another in English for a century). The 'sound, clear, natural wit' manifested in it was praised by John Beale forty years later (Beale, 14), and it continued to be reprinted, often in a collection called A Way to Get Wealth, with works by Gervase Markham and others, until 1683. Lawson also wrote practical annotations, at Roger Jackson's request, to the second edition (1620) of John Dennys's verse treatise The Secrets of Angling. He was buried on 16 August 1635 at Ormesby, where he was remembered as a good man.


  • J. Harvey, ‘William Lawson and his orchard: a 17th-century gardening writer identified’, Country Life, 172 (1982), 1338–40
  • J. Beale, Herefordshire orchards (1657)
  • J. Taboroff, ‘“Wife, unto thy garden”: the first gardening books for women’, Garden History, 11/1 (1983), 1–5
  • parish registers of Ormesby, Yorkshire: unpubd transcript, Society of Genealogists, London
  • B. Henrey, British botanical and horticultural literature before 1800, 1 (1975)
  • F. N. L. Poynter, Bibliography of Gervase Markham, 1568?–1637 (1962)