As to how Robert Lawn became Robert Layton, I shall quote from the family records prepared by my great grandfather, Dr. Thomas Layton:
"It seems that Robert Lawn resided on the farm (run by Buxton Lawn, his father, and a Lord Faulkstone) or estate and that at the time of the event concerning which I am about to write, he was a young, but honourable boy. One season, after the crops were harvested, some young men, among whom was Robert Lawn ... were sent to a neighboring town or village to dispose of the products of the estate. After selling the crops, these young men began to gamble with the funds thus obtained and Robert Lawn, who was then quite young, although he took no part in the game, yet still remained with his companions who continued to play all night until they had completely squandered the funds received for the sale of the crops. When he found out what had occurred and realized the shameful conduct of his companions, Robert Lawn ... was so deeply mortified and ashamed that he did not return to the farm, and to his Father, but enlisted as a private in the army." (Parenthesis added)
Buxton Lawn "bought" Robert out of the army, and took him back to his mother. Robert did not last long, however. He ran off and re-enlisted, this time under the name "Layton". Our family records claim that a Mrs. Layton was Robert Lawn's aunt, the sister of Buxton Lawn. Robert did not stay in the army long, and shortly thereafter left with a friend and sailed to New York under the name Layton which he maintained the rest of his life. The exact date of this is not at all clear.
The information you have about Robert Lawn Layton essentially conforms to the information we have, except that our records show two additional children of the marriage of Robert and Margaret Hewes: Robert Layton, Jr., born in New Orleans on August 25, 1827, and I believe died in Monroe, La. at an unknown date, and Maria Hewes L, born in New Orleans May 30, 1829, and died in New Orleans Sept. 4, 1832.
We do not have a great deal about Mary Dawson. Apparently her paternal grandfather was Lord Mayor of London. Her father apparently married a "waiting maid" to the Dawson family, which was apparently quite wealthy. The Dawson family strongly disapproved of this marriage, cut off the two, and Mary's parents became linen drapers. For some unknown reason, Mary's parents were not happy with her marriage to Buxton Lawn, and were estranged from her until shortly before she sailed to the United States.
When GEorge III became incurably ill, his son By Queen Charlotte, the Prince of Wales became regent in 1810. Obviously the children of George by Charlotte were on bad terms with Buxton, who had a valid claim to the throne. When the Prince of Wales became regent, Buxton Lawn was fired as the private secretary of George III and no longer had access to the Court. We do not know whether it was out of fear or for what reason, but shortly thereafter, he left England for New York. Our records state: "Soon after directing his wife and children to meet him speedily in New York,something occurred which required Buxton Lawn'
s immediate return to England." Mary had already set sail for New York with some of their children, when Buxton sailed back to London. Buxton remained in England until his death. Mary remained in the United States the rest of her life.
Mary did not stay long in New YOrk, but in about 1810, she joined her son Robert L Layton in New Orleans. Mary died in New Orleans in 1819.
The children who accompanied Mary to New York were Susan Lawn who died soon after her arrival in New York, Ann Lawn, married to a Mr. Stevens, Joseph Lawn who died in New Orleans in 1818, Mary Lawn who became Mrs. Porter and Eliza Lawn who became Mrs. Ligon.
I have nothing about Mary Lawn after the death of Mr. Porter. In fact, I did not know Mr. Porter's name until I received your message.
Our records indicate that possibly one of Mary Dawson's brothers emigrated to South Carolina. A newspaper article read by Dr. Thomas Layton indicated that a Judge Dawson died and left his estate to the heirs of Mary Dawson Lawn or of Catherine Rives. I have no other details than this.
I hope the above is helpful.
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