James was born on 18 August 1841 at Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, the son of John Lawton and Sarah Harman. His father was then a milkseller.
In the 1851 census James was living with his parents and siblings at Newtown, Bradford on Avon. He was aged 10 years. This was the last time James has been located in an English census.
It is speculated that this James is one and the same as a James Lawton who ended up living and dying in New Zealand. There are arguments for and against these two being the same person but until evidence is produced that disproves the theory I am linking the two herewithin. Please contact me if you wish to discuss the matter further.
On 29 May 1893 James, as part of an application he was then making for a land claim, completed a document in which he stated – I was a drummer in the 62nd Regt. I was discharged at Lucknow [India] on 22 March 1871. I put in my discharge showing I was discharged with a good character and in possession of 2 good conduct badges. I got my discharge for settling in Nelson, N.Z. I landed in N.Z. in June 1871. I took service in the N.Z. Armed Constabulary the same month.
His application form showed James had served 10 ½ years with his regiment.
And in a newspaper article written at the time of James’ retirement [Evening Post dated 2 October 1908, Pg 7] it states - In 1860 Mr. Lawton enlisted as a drummer in the 66th Wiltshire Regiment [should read 62nd regiment], famously known as the "Springers." He was for ten years attached to that regiment, seeing service in Canada and India. In 1870 Mr. Lawton came from the latter place to New Zealand, and the martial spirit being inherent he joined the Armed Constabulary.
Of interest Wikipedia shows the 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army, which was raised as a line regiment in 1756 and saw service through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Following the Crimean War [1853 to 1856] the 62nd was sent to Canada. They remained in Canada until 1865 when they were rotated through Aldershot [England]. A year later the 62nd was in Ireland. The 62nd engaged Fenians in an action at Kilmallock, defending the police barracks on 6 March 1867. Two years later, the regiment was sent to India.
James joined the Armed Constabulary on 22 June 1871.
Armed Constabulary records state James was born on 16 June 1844 at Wiltshire. This date does not coincide with the birth date above but a birth of a James Lawton born in 1844 in Wiltshire has not been located. On joining the constabulary James was described as aged 27, with a fresh complexion, light brown hair and grey eyes.
From The Nelson Evening Mail dated 29 May 1874, Pg 2 – MARRIAGE. Lawton-Waterhouse – May 25, Mr James Lawton to Miss Sarah Ann Waterhouse, both of Nelson.
Sarah Ann Waterhouse was the granddaughter of Thomas Harman, the brother of Sarah Lawton, nee Harman [James Harman's mother]. Thomas Harman came to New Zealand in 1843, settling in Nelson. His daughter Mary Ann Harman married John Waterhouse.
Known children of this couple were Lucy Alice May Lawton [6 October 1876], William James Lawton [18 February 1880], Ernest Lawton [8 September 1882], Mary Elizabeth Lawton [18 September 1884], Mabel Rosina Lawton  and Blanche Lawton [13 April 1890]. Their two eldest children were born at Patea, Taranaki, Ernest at Hawera, Taranaki, Mary at Manaia, Taranaki and Mabel and Blanche at Drummond St, Wellington. James was the informant when Blanche's birth was registered. He stated his own birthplace as Bradford, Wiltshire, England.
From the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1874 Session I, H-12, which read - Extract from the Annual Report of Musketry Practice of the Armed Constabulary Force for 1874, showing the Distribution of Prizes for the Year. [Two tables were included, one for Mounted and the other for Foot. Under Foot is listed] Constable James Lawton of the Wanganui-Patea District, Regimental No: 1677. Points in 2nd period: 57. Points in 3rd period: 27. Total 78. No. of Prize: 44th [out of a total of 46]. Amount: £2. Remarks: Failed in Judging Distance Practice, 2nd Class.
From the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1875 I H-10, which read - Extract from the Annual Report of Musketry Practice of the Armed Constabulary Force for 1875, showing the Distribution of Prizes for the Year. [Two tables were included, one for Mounted and the other for Foot. Under Foot is listed] Constable J. Lawton of the Wanganui-Patea District, Regimental No: 1677. Points in 2nd period. 2nd Class: 49. Points in 3rd period. 1st Class: 25. Total 74. No. of Prize: 11th [out of a total of 39]. Amount: £2.
From The Hawera and Normanby Star dated 17 November 1880, Pg 3 - THE McCUSKER RELIEF FUND. The following subscriptions have been collected by Captain Baker at Waihi. Every man on the station gave a donation, but two were absent when the list was brought round:- [list included] Constable J. Lawton, 2s 6d.
Waihi Redoubt was established in September 1966 on the hill south-west of Waihi Cemetery, located on Pikituroa Road, near Normanby, 10 km north-west of the south Taranaki town of Hawera. It was used as the advanced quarters of the colonial force in their south Taranaki campaigns. The post was temporarily abandoned after the decisive defeat at Te Ngutu o te Manu on 7 September 1868. It was rebuilt in 1869 and sheltered various forces, including the Armed Constabulary, until the 1880s.
From The Hawera and Normanby Star dated 26 February 1881, Pg 3 – GOVERNMENT LAND SALE. Township of Manaia. Block IV. No. of Section: 10 and 11. Upset Price: £10 and £12 respectively. Price realised. £10 and £12 respectively. E. Fake and J. Lawton, A.C. Force
And Block VII. No. of Section: 77. Area. A.R.P. Acres 5. Roods 2. Perches 0. Price per acre. £10 4 0. E. Fake and J. Lawton
James Lawton fathered a child Lavinia Ada Morey, born 18 June 1884 in Manaia, Taranaki to Emily Ada Morey.
From The Hawera and Normanby Star dated 29 January 1884, Pg 2 – RESIDENT MAGISTRATE’S COURT. Monday, 28th January. (Before Messrs. Bate and Finlayson, J.P.) Charge Of Rape. James Lawton was charged that he did on or about the month of December, 1882, commit a rape on Emily Ann [sic] Morey, a girl of tender years. Mr. Hutchison appeared to prosecute, and Mr. Caplen defended. Mr. Hutchison, in opening the case for the prosecution, stated that he would lay the matter as dispassionately before the bench as possible. Accused was well known, and the girl upon whom the crime was committed was a young girl about fourteen years of age. The evidence in a case of this sort was generally hard to get at, and he might have to ask for a remand till a future date, so as to procure further evidence. All witnesses were ordered out of court. Plaintiff, sworn, deposed – My name is Emily A. Morey. I am fourteen years of age. I know the accused. Recollect going to service at his house. I went there last year; it was before Christmas, the year before last. Accused lives outside the A.C. camp, at Manaia. He has a wife and children. I slept in a room at the back of the house, with two of the children. Accused came to my room one night about three months after I went to live at his house. I was in bed, and he then committed the offence. While the evidence was proceeding the witness fainted, and had to be carried out of Court. At this stage, the Court adjourned until 2.30. On resuming. Alfred H. Morey was sworn, and deposed – I live at Manaia, and am the father of last witness. She is my eldest daughter. She was at service previous to going to accused’s. She went to accused’s in December 1882. She remained there nearly a twelvemonth. She came home about ten or eleven weeks ago for a change, because she was unwell. Afterwards she went to stay at Sergt. Gentles. Did not notice that the girl was pregnant. Accused came to me this day week, along with another person. Accused said it was a bad case; he was sorry from his heart it had happened, and would like to make some recompense. He offered me £30 down, and £40 when the girl was confined. He offered me the money because he had done wrong to the girl, and to hush the affair up. I would not listen to him. I saw him again last Thursday. I told him what the case was against him. He said it couldn’t be; it was more than the law could do to bring it in rape. After that I laid this information. Examined by Mr. Caplen – His friend told me he had come to settle with me for what had been done to Emily. He wanted to know what recompense I wanted. I wouldn’t answer any questions. I wrote to Lawton before he came to me. He told me he could not comply with my demands. His friend did not say anything about money on the Sunday. He did not tell me the girl was pregnant. I did not say that nothing but money would settle it. I saw Lawton outside my house. He expressed himself as being sorry for what had been done. I would have settled the matter then for £250. Saw accused on Thursday last. I asked him what he was going to do in the matter. I said I would give him another chance. He replied that he could do no more than what he had offered. I refused to accept that amount. It was on the Thursday that I told him I would charge him with rape. It was not till after he had refused to pay the amount demanded that I mentioned the charge. This conversation with Lawton about the money was after having seen my solicitor. A letter written by Morey to accused, demanding £250, was put in and read. Morey continued – I told Lawton he had promised to give the girl a sum of money, but he had not done so. On consulting my solicitor, he told me it was a case of rape. I offered to settle the matter for £250 after that. My daughter was not discharged from Lawton’s. Renwick’s, Gentles’, and Lawton’s houses are close together. If the girl screamed she could be heard from one to the other. I would not settle the matter for money now. To the Bench – I am aware that it cannot be so settled now. Re-examined by Mr. Hutchison – After the girl had left accused’s employ, he wanted to take her back. To the Bench – The girl who slept in the same bad as my daughter is about 7 or 8 years of age. Mr. Hutchison here applied for a remand, on account of the illness of the principal witness. Mr. Caplen said he would strongly oppose a remand. He quoted from “Russell on Crimes,” and contended that not a tittle of evidence had been brought forward to warrant a remand. He alluded in strong terms to the letter written by the girl’s father, wherein he had offered to compromise the matter. Why was so much animus shown and why had not a summons been issued? It was clearly one of the grossest cases of attempted extortion he had ever heard of. Mr. Hutchison considered that sufficient evidence had been brought forward to warrant him in asking for a remand. The Bench thought differently. They did not consider that evidence had been brought forward to prove the charge, and they would not be warranted in granting the remand. The case would therefore be dismissed.
From The Hawera and Normanby Star dated 30 September 1884, Pg 2 – MANAIA. Resident Magistrate’s Court. [One of several cases dealt with that day] James Lawton v. Thomas Renwick. – Claim £8 10s 4d, for milk and butter supplied. Judgment for plaintiff by default, with costs 11s.
From The Hawera and Normanby Star dated 18 November 1884, Pg 2 – MANAIA. Assessment Court. At the sitting of the Assessment Court for the Manaia town district, before Mr. C. A. Wray, judge, the valuation made by G. A. Hurley for the year ended 31st March, 1885, was brought forward for consideration. [Three objections to the valuations were heard including] James Lawton objected to valuation of 11, block 4, £12 10s; and to 87, suburban, £17. – Reduced to £10 and £14 respectively.
On 5 July 1885 James was transferred to Wellington as an arms cleaner at the Defence Stores.
From The Evening Post dated 15 September 1888, Pg 3 - In an open letter dated 10 September 1888 ratepayers requested T. Kennedy MacDonald to allow himself be nominated for the office of Mayor of Wellington. Among the list of those who signed the letter was James Lawton of Drummond Street.
From The Evening Post dated 19 November 1889, Pg 3 – NOTICE. Lost, white Cockatoo, with yellow plumage. Finder rewarded on returning same to Mr. James Lawton, Drummond-street.
From The Evening Post dated 5 August 1891, Pg 2 – PARLIAMENTARY NOTES. Lawrence McGovern and James Lawton, of Wellington, petition the House for recognition of their claims as military settlers.
On 31 July 1891 James had submitted this document to Parliament -
To The Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of James Lawton late of Her Majesty’s Service serving in India and now a settler in New Zealand
That in the year 1871 your petitioner came to the Colony of New Zealand and port of Nelson. During his service in India it was officially given in General Orders that soldiers retiring with good characters from Her Majesty’s Army for the purpose of settling in New Zealand would receive a grant of land free of cost from the New Zealand Government.
On this understanding on completing my service term of ten years I got my discharge and came to New Zealand. The attached discharge and certificates of character clearly show what my intentions were.
Since my arrival in 1871 I have resided permanently in New Zealand and have never received any consideration or grant of either money or land.
During my residence in Nelson Colonel Harrington who was then in command of the Colonial Forces having heard that I had recently left the Army sent for me and requested me to join the Armed Constabulary as bugler in which I served fourteen years and receiving the long service and good conduct medal for service in New Zealand.
Your petitioner therefore humbly prays that your Honourable House will be pleased to give your petitioner such grant, remuneration, or relief in order to redeem the promises made to me on leaving H.M. Army as your Honourable House shall seem just and equitable.
James Lawton, Drummond Street, Wellington
Presumably James was then advised to complete an application of Claim to Land under the Naval and Military Settlers’ and Volunteers’ Land Acts of 1889 and 1891. The first, completed on 11 December 1891, was declined. In his decision the Commissioner of Crown Lands stated - As the discharge shows that you were not discharged until 22nd March 1871, and the above Acts only admit the claims of those soldiers who were discharged before the 31st December 1868, I regret that I am unable to admit your claim and have no option but to disallow it.
James made a second application on 10 January 1893 following the passing of a further Act in 1892. This, too, was declined on the grounds that under Section 2, sub section (a) of the Naval and Military Settlers’ Act 1892 James had not served in New Zealand with his regiment.
From The Evening Post dated 1 March 1894, Pg 2 [in part] - A WHOLE DEPARTMENT WIPED OUT. Eighteen Officers Dispensed With. Late yesterday afternoon intimation was received at Mount Cook Barracks from the Defence Office that the services of all the officers of the Stores Department, except the Storekeeper, Captain Anderson, were to be dispensed with at a month’s notice, which was at once given them. Amongst the officers thus turned adrift are many of acknowledged capacity and very long service ...[The list of officers dispensed with included] J. Kelly, R. Davis, Jas. Smith, Jas. Lawton, Geo. Smith, H. Jarred, R. Fredric, W. Warren, arms cleaners.
From The Evening Post dated 31 March 1894, Pg 2 - The month’s notice of dismissal given to the whole of the Stores staff (18) in the Defence Department expired to-day. Six of the men – the armourer and his assistant and Messrs. O’Sullivan, Sewell, Harper, and May – have received intimation that their services will be retained – it is understood permanently. One has been given a week’s re-engagement, eight are to be kept on pending arrangements to be made on the Defence Minister’s return from his northern tour, and in the case of three – Captain Smith and Messrs. Davis and Moors – the notice dispensing with their services already given has been allowed to take effect.
As James retired from his job with stores in 1908 it is assumed his employment in the Defence Department was saved by the Defence Minister.
From The Hawera and Normanby Star dated 12 September 1896, Pg 2 – Mr. C. E. Major reports the sale of allotment 52, section 26, Hawera borough, from Mr James Lawton, Wellington, to a local purchaser.
From The Evening Post dated 11 March 1899, Pg 6 [in part] – Mr. G. A. Hurley reports having sold part section 16, Block XV., Manaia, the property of Mr. James Lawton, to Mr. John Hunt, draper, Manaia.
From The Evening Post dated 8 September 1900, Pg 5 [in part] – VETERANS AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE. Old Soldiers Entertained By The Governor. His Excellency is to-day celebrating Sebastopol Day by entertaining veterans of the army and navy at luncheon at Government House. Tables are laid in the ballroom, which has been tastefully decorated for the occasion under the direction of the Countess of Ranfurly. The reception is to extend from 2 to 6 o’clock. Only two toasts will be given by the Governor – "The Queen" and "Lord Roberts and our Forces in South Africa." [The Boer War was being fought at this time] ... In the list of invitations given hereunder, some of the records of the old soldiers have not been obtained, and the initials "N.Z." after the names means that the veteran wears the New Zealand medal ... [The list included] James Lawton (Wellington), N.Z.
A full copy of the article from The Evening Post dated 2 October 1908, Pg 7 reads – Many Government servants are retiring under the provisions of the Superannuation Act, but probably few of them have had the varied experiences of Mr. James Lawton, who for the past thirty-six years has been connected with the defence forces of the Dominion. In 1860 Mr. Lawton enlisted as a drummer in the 66th Wiltshire Regiment, famously known as the "Springers." He was for ten years attached to that regiment, seeing service in Canada and India. In 1870 Mr. Lawton came from the latter place to New Zealand, and the martial spirit being inherent he joined the Armed Constabulary. Since severing his connection with that corps Mr. Lawton has been on the staff of the Defence Stores, and on Wednesday he was the recipient of a presentation from his comrades to mark the occasion of his retirement. Captain O’Sullivan, Director of Military Stores, in making the presentation, which took the form of a travelling rug and case of pipes, referred to the esteem in which Mr. Lawton was generally held, and on behalf of those assembled wished him many years of health and prosperity to enjoy his well-earned rest.
James Lawton died on 27 February 1912 at 10 Drummond St, Wellington aged 69 years of cardiac disease [6 years]. He was described on his death certificate as an armourer in the Defence Store. James was buried on 29 February 1912 at Karori Cemetery, Wellington. The minister was Rev. S Ogden, of the Anglican Church. James was stated to have been born in Wiltshire, England, the son of John Lawton. He had married Sarah Ann Waterhouse in Patea 26 years previously. His widow was aged 57 years at his death. His living children at the time of his death were 2 sons aged 32 and 30 and 4 daughters aged 36, 28, 26 and 21 years.
From The Evening Post dated 28 February 1912, Pg 1 – DEATHS. Lawton - On the 27th February, 1912, at his residence, 10 Drummond street, after a long illness, James Lawton, dearly beloved husband of Mrs S. A. Lawton; deeply regretted.
From The Evening Post dated 28 February 1912, Pg 8 – FUNERAL CARD. The Friends of the late James Lawton are invited to attend his Funeral, which will leave his late residence, 10, Drummond street, Tomorrow (Thursday), 29th February, 1912, at 2 p.m., for the Karori Cemetery - E. Morris, Jun., Undertaker and Embalmer, 60, Taranaki st, and 28 Revans st, Telephone 937 (day and night).
COURT SIR GEORGE BOWEN, A.O.F., No. 5084. Members of the above Court are invited to attend the Funeral of our late Bro. James Lawton, which will leave his late residence, 10, Drummond street, Tomorrow (Thursday), 29th Feb., 1912, at 2 p.m., for the Karori Cemetery. Members of other Courts cordially invited. A. W. O. Travers, Sec.
From The Evening Post dated 27 February 1913, Pg 1 – IN MEMORIAM.
Lawton - In fond and loving memory of James, beloved husband of Sarah Ann Lawton, who passed away at Wellington on the 27th, February, 1912.
We often sit and think of him
When we are all alone;
For memory is the only friend
That grief can call its own.
The midnight stars are beaming
Upon his silent grave;
Sleeping, without dreaming,
Lies the one we could not save.
Inserted by his loving wife and family
Lawton - In loving remembrance of James Lawton, who passed away at Wellington on the 27th February, 1912.
Tho' far from sight, to memory dear.
Inserted by L. J. McPascoe [sic]
Sarah Ann Lawton died on 12 October 1946 aged 91 years.
James and Saran were both buried at Karori Cemetery, Wellington. Their headstone reads - In loving memory of James the beloved husband of Sarah Ann Lawton, died Feb. 27th 1912 aged 69 years. Also his loving wife Sarah Ann died Oct. 12 1946 in her 92nd year. Though gone from sight to memory dear.
Sarah's will read as follows -
THIS IS THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of me SARAH LAWTON of the City of Wellington in the Dominion of New Zealand, Widow.
(1) I REVOKE all prior Wills AND I APPOINT my son in law LOUIS JAMES MCKEE PASCOE of the City of Wellington, Master Butcher, to be the sole executor and trustee of this my Will.
(2) I GIVE AND DEVISE unto my son ERNEST LAWTON for his absolute use and benefit and free from all duty all my household and personal effects and also my freehold property situate in the City of Wellington containing ten decimal five (10.5) perches more or less being part of the section marked 747 on the Public Map of the City of Wellington together with the right-of-way over other part of the said section 12 links in width and 151 ½ links in length and being the whole of the land comprised and described in Certificate of Title Volume 15 Folio 277 Wellington Registry.
(3) SUBJECT to the payment thereout of all my just debts funeral and testamentary expenses I GIVE DEVISE AND BEQUEATH the whole of my estate both real and personal of whatsoever nature and wheresoever situate not hereinbefore otherwise disposed of unto such of them my daughters LUCY ALICE MAY CURRAN, MABEL ROSINA JACKSON and BLANCHE PASCOE as survive me and if more than one of them survives me then in equal shares share and share alike.
AS WITNESS my hand this 15th day of February 1928.
S A Lawton
SIGNED by the said SARAH ANN LAWTON the testatrix as and for her last will and testament in the presence of us both being present at the same time who in her presence at her request and in the sight and presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as attesting witnesses.
[Unreadable signature] Solicitor Wellington and H A Archer Law Clerk Wellington
Son in law Louis James McKee Pascoe whom Sarah named as her sole executor died on 28 December 1939, predeceasing Sarah. Her daughters Lucy, then a widow of Wellington, Mabel, then married of Wellington, and Blanche, then a widow of Hastings, applied to be granted Letters of Administration of their mother's estate. Son Ernest was at this time residing in Rouse Hill, New South Wales, Australia and consented with their request. They advised the court that other than the property and household effects devised to Ernest the estate consisted of a Post Office Savings Account of approximately £391, a National Bank Account of about £16 and a National Saving Bond of £1.