The oldest ancestor we have managed to find in our Hawson family is Gregory Hawson. He is the father of Henry Hawson, who came to Port Lincoln in 1839.
Based on his age at this death, Gregory was born about 1760. We don’t know where he was born but he spent his adult life in Dartmouth, Devon, so possibly he was born there as well.
Gregory married Mary Tapley on 17 January 1787, in St Petrox church, Dartmouth, Devon.
Gregory was about 27 years old, while Mary was 23 turning 24. This appears to be a common age for women of middle class to marry in this era. Mary grew up in the Dartmouth area, she was born Mary Tapley 16 March, 1763, in Dartmouth. Her parents were James Tapley and Mary Basey. Dartmouth was a port town and James Tapley worked in customs.
Gregory and Mary had the following children:
Gregory Hawson, b. 13 December 1789, St. Petrox, Dartmouth, England.
Henry Hawson, b. 6 November 1791, St. Petrox, Dartmouth, England; d. 24 July 1849, Port Lincoln, South Australia.
Mary Tapley Hawson, b. 23 January 1793, St. Petrox, Dartmouth, England.
Elizabeth Hawson, b. 9 February 1794, St. Petrox, Dartmouth, England.
James Tapley Hawson, b. 3 November 1796, St. Petrox, Dartmouth, England.
Frances Hawson, b. 31 March 1799, St. Petrox, Dartmouth, England.
John Hawson, b. 4 March 1804, St. Petrox, Dartmouth, England.
George Hawson, b. 15 June 1806, St. Petrox, Dartmouth, England.
Both Gregory and Mary appeared to be rusted on Church of England. This is not only because they married in an Anglican Church, baptised their children in one and were buried in the grounds of one, but also because it was apparently recorded as such in the diary of their eldest son, Gregory (II). He recorded that his mother was strongly opposed to the dissenters and the local Baptists. This must have been a big problem when he (Gregory II) became a Baptist minister in 1810. [Source is Mary D Carrick, Abeona and Hawson Family History, 1998.]
The CofE is, of course, the state church of Britain.
Dartmouth is a port city, overlooking the English Channel. Britain was always a major trading town and the 18th century was a huge time for this.
Gregory appeared to be involved in merchant shipping, and later became part of the British navy for a short while.
Gregory lived his adulthood during the period of the French revolution and the subsequent wars that ultimately led to the Napoleonic Wars (ending in 1815). He had at one stage during the late 18th century invested in a merchant ship and was involved in importing goods from Europe to Britain. On one such trip he was captured and imprisoned by a French privateer. [Mary D Carrick, Abeona and Hawson Family History, 1998.]
This would have occurred between 1799 and 1801. He returned to England in 1801. Gregory went on to became an officer in the cutter ‘Albert’ which worked to control smuggling. He would have done this before 1810 as he managed to get his son, Gregory, to work with him before he was apprenticed in Portsmouth (which occurred before 1810). Jenny Stiles mentions on her website that, “A list of boat Pilots for Dartmouth in 1812 includes the name of Gregory Hawson”.
He may have been doing this right up to 1814. There are National Archive records of correspondence from Captains for the Royal Navy for the date 1814, and some are from a Captain G Hawson. [<http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C12820882>%5D
However, Mary Carrick mentions in her book that Gregory (II) said in his diary that both he and his father left the cutter before Gregory (II)’s apprenticeship (so before 1810). Gregory could possibly have gone on to work on another ship.
Gregory could possibly have been paroled by the British government after his capture by the French privateer. Paroling was basically paying a ransom for the release of prisoners (an age old practise that goes back at least to Richard the Lionheart). Often such paroling demanded the released prisoner join the armed forces in payment. Gregory’s work with the navy may have been because of this, or he simply may have been doing his bit for the war effort.
Gregory most likely died in 27 August 1835, aged 74. His wife died ten years earlier, aged 64.
There is a burial for that date in St Clement’s, Townstal, Dartmouth, for a Gregory Hawson. Gregory does not appear in any UK Census records; as they began in 1841 then he could well have died before that date.
There is a burial for Mary Hawson on 22nd May 1825 in the same place.
[Both from Find My Past, Devon Burials]
For more information on Gregory Hawson visit the wonderful webpage by Jenny Stiles.