Henry Richardson Lawrie 1811 - 1894
Henry Richardson Lawrie was born on 17th September 1811 in Yetholm, Roxburghshire, the youngest child to Thomas Lawrie (a carrier) and his wife Jane Douglas.
From available records he would have appeared to have spent the majority of his life living and working in the village of Eckford in Roxburghshire.
The first adult record we have is of him marrying Jane Thomson on 29 Nov 1839, in Jedburgh Roxburgh. They had six children. Jane was to die in 1850. There is a record of their marriage - and her death in the Old Parish Record of Eckford.
"1839. Nov 15 Mr Henry Richardson Lawrie Schoolmaster of the Parish and Miss Jane Thomson in the Parish of Jedburgh gave up their names for proclamation in order to marriage".
Below this there is
"1839 November 29th married by the Reverend J Yair. Eckford".
In this record - in fainter ink has been added
"1850 October 15 The said Jane Thomson Died”.
The 1841 census records the couple in Eckford with their son Tomas aged 11 months, Henry being recorded as a schoolmaster. Subsequent census records record him as living in Eckford as although it is unclear when he initially occupied the schoolhouse
On the 4th of June 1856 he remarried Ann Bennet (daughter of John Bennet, a tailor and Jane Raeburn).
Unusually, the marriage did not take place in Eckford. It took place in Coldstream Bridge. This would have been an 'irregular marriage' - outwith the church, but fully recognised in Scots Law. The marriage was formalised by John Murray MD, Justice of the Peace. The marriage was recorded by Henry himself, as he was the Registrar for Eckford. The certificate states
"On the Fourth day of June 1856 at Coldstream Bridge. Marriage was contracted between us in the presence of William Dickson, Charles Alexander and John Jackson".
The couple went on to also have six children, at least 3 pre-deceasing him following contraction on tuberculosis. Sadly, Ann was to die on 27th April 1887 - aged 54, from 'Pneuomonia (left lungs) and acute tuberculosis'. Once again Henry registered a loved one's passing.
In 1889 he was involved in a court case 'Schoolboard of Eckford vs The Ratepayers". (It is recorded in The Scottish Law Reporter. - Vol. XXVI. Pages 298 - 300) An excerpt notes:
"The School Board of the parish of Eckford, in the county of Roxburgh, in December 1886 arranged with Mr Henry Richardson Lawrie,the teacher of the Eckford School, that he should retire upon an allowance of £60 per anum, with the use of the teacher's house and garden rent- free for the rest of his life."
Mr Lawrie was then nearly seventy-eight years of age, had taught in the parish for fifty-eight years, and had occupied the house and garden attached to Eckford school for fifty-five years.
Some of the rate payers were objecting to having to pay for accommodation of the then serving teacher, whist the schoolhouse was being occupied by the one who had retired. Common sense for once - and the law, was on Henrys side and he remained living in the schoolhouse till he died in 1894.
Henry Richardson Lawrie occupied a large part of the village life in Eckford in the 1800s - educating several generations of children. (As the 1889 court case shows, he taught for over 50 years in Eckford). The 1891 census also records a number of job and role titles for Henry, which emphasis how his life was entwined with all members of the community. He is recorded as being a Retired Teacher, Inspector of the Poor, Collector of Poor and Sick Rates, Registrar, Session Clerk. There is also another job/role which is unable to be deciphered.
Henry was also a Sunday school teacher as the Statistical Account for Scotland (1836) records for Eckford, that
“A Sabbath-school also exists in the parish which under the superintendence of the minister, is taught by the teacher of the first parish school, and several other well disposed persons in the district (note: the second school was Caverton).
He would also appear to have been the parish librarian as the same account notes
"Library. - In the parish, there are two branches of an itinerating library, - the one at Eckford , and the other at Caverton-mill. They are placed under the care of the parish teachers, and the books are lent to the people on their payment of a small sum quarterly. It is proposed, as soon as circumstances will permit, to establish a stationary library in the district”.
At the same time, from 1829 - 1892, Joseph Yair MA was Minister at Eckford and it is reasonably surmised that these two gentlemen would have had more than a passing relationship, due to their position in parish society and the intertwining of their roles and responsibilities
His death on 8th July 1894 was recorded by his only son to Ann Bennet - also called Henry Richardson Lawrie. He gave his fathers occupation as 'Inspector of Poor'. Henry had been ill with stomach cancer for two to three years. His will has been obtained.
Generations later both in Scotland and in Canada, where descendants emigrated to, he was referred to as 'The Dominie'.