“Our Grandmother”: Sarah Robert Lawton, 1755-1839

Sarah Alexander Cunningham donated a collection of family papers to the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah. If you are interested in viewed the papers, which have lots of Lawton stuff, you’ll need to request MS194.

This next article comes from Sarah Alexander Cunningham’s mother’s scrapbook.  Her mother was Nora Lawton who married Henry Cumming Cunningham.


     The following letter written me by my cousin,

Rev. Jos. T. Robert, D.D., of Augusta, Ga.  I

publish in THE INDEX, hoping that it may in-

spire in the hearts of mothers of the present day,

an earnest desire to emulate the Christian vir-

tues of one who has long since gone to that

blissful home where all is joy and all is peace.

I thank God for such a grandmother.

     The dinner occasion of which Dr. R speaks is

fresh in my memory, though I was a boy only

ten years old.    Grandmother’s birthday-dinner

at old “Mulberry Grove” will never be effaced

from my memory as long as I retain my reason.

I wrote Dr. Robert and requested him to give me

some facts in relation to our grandmother’s birth

and death, and more particularly some account

of her birthday-dinner, as he was, perhaps, bet-

ter posted than any one now living.  I cannot

refrain from publishing his letter to me in full.

     “Mulberry Grove” was the birth place of my

own father and the father of Gen. A. R. Lawton.

(Gen. L’s father died a few years ago at the ripe

age of eighty-six.)  The house is still standing, and

is owned by Gen. A.R. Lawton, now of Savannah,

which was also his birth place.  It may not be

necessary for me to apologize for publishing

this letter, as I do it with the hope of benefitting

those who may peruse its contents.  J.S.L.


     Dr. J. S. Lawton — Dear Cousin:  Our grand-

mother, Mrs. Sarah Lawton, was the second

daughter of Jacques Robert, who was a grand son

of Rev. Pierre Robert, the first minister of the

Gospel that came to South Carolina among the

Huguenots in 1646(?).  Her father was a man of cul-

ture, well educated, and fond of scientific re-

searches, as we learn from records of philosophi-

cal (?) belonging to this family.  His chil-

dren were brought up intelligent and influential

members of society.

     Sarah Robert was born February 6, 1755, and

was married to Joseph Lawton at about her

eighteenth year of age.  In March, 1783(?), her el-

der brother, John Robert, and her husband, with

their families, removed from Stono Creek, near

Beaufort, and settled plantations near where

now is Robertville, in formerly Beaufort district,

now Hampton county.  Both families, pre-

viously Episcopal, had embraced Baptist sen-

timents, and together were the founders of the

Baptist church at Robertville, and the chief

supporters of it during their lives.

     By the death of her husband, March 5, 1815,

grandmother was left a widow when sixty years

of age.  She was very intelligent, fond of read-

ing, hospitable, and eminently pious and exem-

plary.  She honored God in all her ways, and He

honored her with long life and the warm affect-

tion of numerous pious descendants, and the

respectful esteem of all her acquaintances.

     In 1831, when she was seventy-six years old,

she determined to invite all her children and

grandchildren then living, to meet together at

her residence at Mulberry Grove, and spend a

day with her once more as a family in social en-

joyment.  The interview was very affecting.  The

proceedings on the occasion were such as a lov-

ing Christian heart might well dictate.  Eighty-

five of her regular descendants were present.

Of her four sons living, two were ministers, and

the other two deacons in the Baptist Church;

and two of the grandsons, also, were Baptist


     Soon after their arrival and mutual greetings,

all gathered together and united in a song of

praise to the Giver of every good and perfect

gift.  Her oldest son, a minister, then read se-

lected Scriptures, gave an affectionate address of

welcome to the company, and led in prayer,

thanking God for blessings past, and suppli-

cating his continued merciful kindness to us as

a family.  After this introductory exercise,

kindred mingled with kindred in a delightful so-

cial converse, or pleasant promenade, or sportive

amusement, as age, or sex, or taste might direct.

At dinner, forty-four of her children and grand-

children arrived at maturity, sat at the same

table; and of this number, forty-three were

members of the Church upon profession of

faith in Jesus Christ.

     The afternoon was spent, as the morning, in

pleasant intercourse.  Towards its close, the

venerated parent, calling her children around

her, gave them affectionate counsel, and be-

stowed upon them her parting blessing.  Her

youngest son, being a minister, then concluded

the interview with appropriate religious exer-

cises, and kindred bade adieu to kindred, long to

cherish the memory of that day spent at Mul-

berry Grove.

     Mrs. Sarah Lawton lived eight years after

this event, and at her decease, (October 6, 1839)

she left one hundred and fifteen lineal descend-

ants, in which large number there was not to be

found a profane swearer nor a drunkard.

     This narrative shows the power of a mother’s

influence.  She leaves a deep and indelible im-

press of her character upon her progeny.  Mrs.

Lawton was trained piously, and she reared her

offspring in the fear of God, and won their

hearts to the love and service of Christ.  Nearly

a half century has passed away since that mem-

orable gathering of her descendants, and very

many who were then present are now gathered

together in the assembly of the redeemed above,

but I shall ever recall the fond memories of

that day as among the most delightful expe-

rience of my life.              JOSEPH THOMAS ROBERT.

Augusta, Ga., May 10, 1878.


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One Response to ““Our Grandmother”: Sarah Robert Lawton, 1755-1839”

  1. Of DNA and Such | Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] tending to the cooking and cleaning and laundry, among other things.  Now go back and re-read “Our Grandmother”, and see if you get a different mental picture.  I know I […]


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