Captain Frederick Larsen, of Denmark/Shetland

DOCUMENT CONTROL Last updated by Lindsay J Robertson, 9 Mar 2010


Captain Frederick Larsen was born in Denmark..
He came to Shetland in about 1836..
He commanded ships owned by Hay & Co...
He married twice, and fathered 9 children...
His name continues today...
He died in Scalloway.
This website has been set up to bring together what is known of Captain Frederick Larsen, and hopefully to encourage others to contribute their knowledge.
Can you help?  If so I would greatly appreciate either new information, confirmation of the information I have listed here, or indeed evidence that information I have listed is incorrect!
A short article that I wrote on Frederick Larsen, for "Coontin' Kin", the journal of the Shetland Family History Society, is located here


Many people have already contributed to what we know of Frederick Larsen:  As many as I can remember are acknowledged at the end of this document; my sincere apologies in advance to anyone who has escaped my memory.

Table of Contents

Birth-place and -date
Parents and family
Life until 17
Sea service, pre-arrival in Shetland
Arrival in Shetland
Service with Hay & Ogilvy (later Hay and Co)
Naturalisation - request, testimonial, grant
Seaman's ticket
Marriages and children
Death and burial
Appendix A: Higgins letter
Appendix B: PRO letter
Appendix C: Frederick Larsen (Jr)
Appendix D: Secondary references to Frederick Larsen
Acknowledgements, Refs



1 Birth and baptism

1.1 We have several references to Larsen's birth-nationality:

1.1.1 Davidson letter

The letter from R Davidson, regarding Larsen's application for a seaman's register ticket, says that he is "belonging to Denmark near Copenhagen",   As Dr Alan Beattie has pointed out, nowhere in Denmark is far from Copenhagen, and the inclusion of this phrase may reflect the writer's assumption that the readers know little of Denmark

1.1.2 Citizenship application

In his application for British citizenship (made under oath) Larsen/Lawson states that he is a native of Denmark.

1.1.3 Seaman's ticket

Larsen's seaman's ticket quotes his birthplace as "Denmark"

1.2 Birth locality

The following map is offered by the excellent "Wikipedia" service, more information via the [ Link ]

Map of Denmark

While it is literally true that nowhere in Denmark is very far from Copenhagen, the above map indicates that the Frederiksborg and Roskilde regions are adjacent, with West Zealand and Storstrom on the same island. 



1.3 Birth-date
1.3.1 Citizenship application

Larsen's citizenship application (dated 22 Dec 1845, quotes him as "aged 41"  
[  Link ]

1.3.2 1851 Census

The 1851 census quotes Captain Larsen as 48 yrs old, born 1803, from Denmark, British Subject  
1.3.3 Seaman's ticket
Larsen's seaman's ticket records a birthdate of 4 Dec 1802. [ Link ]

2 Parents and family

2.1 IGI references
The patrynimic naming system persisted within Denmark well into the 19th Century, so the only clue  offered by Frederick Larsen's name is that his father's given name was probably "Lars" - not a very useful piece of information. Denmark has good records of births, deaths etc, but they are also somewhat difficult to search for a case such as this.

I have set the search criteria fairly wide (Frederick Larsen, with "Friderick", "Friderich", "Frederik, Frideric", "Fridrick" and "Lassen" etc all being both possible, Denmark, birth/christening 1803 plus/minus 5 years, and eliminating all records for which a death is recorded, and and all records that do not meet at least one of the "supplementary" criteria - ie, location Copenhagen, Date of birth in rance 1803-1804, or mother's name "Catherine".

The IGI offers the following possibilities:


Kopenhavn, Frederiksborg, Roskilde



08 APR 1804

Tikob, Frederiksborg



18 MAY 1803

Trinitatis, Kobenhavn



Friderich Christian <LARSEN>
Birth: 05 Feb 1805
Christening: 03 Mar 1805
Father: Lars MATHISEN
Mother: Cathrine Elisabeth HVIDT

Helsingor, Frederiksborg



Friderich <LARSEN>
Christening: 10 May 1800
Father: Lars OLSEN

Gerlev, Frederiksborg



Friderich Christian <LAURITZSEN>
Birth: 01 Nov 1801
Christening: 08 Feb 1801
Father: Lauritz CHRISTENSEN
Mother: Georgel Christine MARCUSEN




Friderich Christian <LARSEN>
Birth: 02 Dec 1802
Christening: 19 Dec 1802
Father: Lars Jorgen ANDERSEN
Mother: Mette Kirstine HANSDR




Friderich Ferdinand <LARSEN>
Birth: 01 Apr 1802
Christening: 09 Apr 1802
Mother: Ane Marie SEVERIN




Friderich Martin <LARSEN>
Birth: 31 Oct 1805
Christening: 17 Nov 1805
Father: Lars LARSEN
Mother: Ane Marie THOMASDR




Friderik <LARSEN>
Christening: 20 Feb 1807
Father: Lars JEPPESEN
Mother: Sidse FREDRIKSDR

Stro, Frederiksborg



Friderich <LARSEN>
Birth: 10 Aug 1808
Christening: 02 Sep 1808
Father: Lars NIELSEN
Mother: Anne Kirstine ANDERSDR




Frideric Christian <LARSEN>
Birth: 24 May 1800
Christening: 06 Jul 1800
Father: Lars JORGENSEN
Mother: Ane Marie JENSDR

Kongens Lyngby, Kobenhavn



Friderich Christian <LAURITZSEN>
Birth: 01 Nov 1801
Christening: 08 Feb 1801
Father: Lauritz CHRISTENSEN
Mother: Georgel Christine MARCUSEN




Friderich Christian <LARSEN>
Birth: 02 Dec 1802
Christening: 19 Dec 1802
Father: Lars Jorgen ANDERSEN
Mother: Mette Kirstine HANSDR




Friderich Christian <LAURITZSEN RIISING>
Birth: 18 Nov 1807
Christening: 30 Dec 1807
Father: Lauritz RIISING
Mother: Elisabeth Margrethe HANSEN




Friderik <LARSEN>
Christening: 20 Feb 1807
Father: Lars JEPPESEN
Mother: Sidse FREDRIKSDR

Stro, Frederiksborg



Friderich <LARSEN>
Birth: 10 Aug 1808
Christening: 02 Sep 1808
Father: Lars NIELSEN
Mother: Anne Kirstine ANDERSDR




Christening: 08 APR 1803

Oksbol, Aabenraa-Sonderborg




Birth: 04 MAR 1804
Christening: 07 MAR 1804

?Nyborg, Svendborg




Friderich <LARSEN>
Birth: 12 Dec 1804
Christening: 13 Dec 1804
Father: Lars HANSEN
Mother: Birthe Kirstine ABRAHAMSDR
?? Vaerslev, Holbaek




Frideric <LARSEN>
Birth: 17 Feb 1804
Christening: 19 Feb 1804
Father: Lars SORENSEN
Mother: Maren HANSDR

??? Vejlo, Praesto





If the birth-date in Larsen's seaman's ticket is correct, then one IGI entry is relevant: this is highlighted in the above table
On 15 Nov 2006, I (Lindsay J Robertson) requested information re above family from the "Danish Roots" mailing list On 16 Nov 2006, I received from Jette Ejlskov Toftegaard Pedersen, the following information:
His christening was in Holmens Church. I have found the christening in the church book.
They had a daughter too:Ane Sophie Sex: F.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- .
Event(s): Birth: 29 Jan 1805 Place: .
Christening: 17 Feb 1805 Place: Kobenhavn, Kobenhavn, Denmark .


The above image was kindly emailed to me on 17 Nov 2006, by Jette Ejlskov Toftegaard Pedersen.
The image shows the record of Friderich Larsen's baptism, in the church book of Holmens Church.



Assuming that the initial identification of Frederick Larsen in the IGI records is correct, then We also have, courtesy of Jette Ejlskov Toftegaard Pedersen, the following relevant images:



2.2 Bolt family tree

The reference to "Catherine Lawson" on the Bolt family tree is discussed elsewhere - it seems highly likely that this refers to Catherine Higgins.

3 Life until 17

We know nothing of Larsen's life until the age of 17.

Larsen's seaman's ticket quotes that he went to sea as a boy, at 17. [ Link ]

4 Sea service, pre-arrival in Shetland

We have several somewhat enigmatic references to Larsen's sea-time, prior to his arrival in Shetland

4.1 Hamburg

Hay & Ogilvy's testimonial makes reference to Hamburg [ Link ]

4.2 Dates of service
There is a reasonable agreement on dates of Larsen's service:
According to Larsen's Seaman's ticket, he went to sea as a boy of 17 years - i.e. in about 1819.
According to Larsen's Seaman's ticket, he spent 15 years "in foreign service" at "Denmark Is." - hence until about 1834.
According to his "memorial", dated 27 Dec 1845, when applying for citizenship, ".. in the month of May last the memorialist had been employed nine years and three months in the British merchant coasting trade.." 9 years and 3 mths prior to May 1845 is about February 1834.
Hay and Ogilvy's testimonial quotes that, as at April 1843, Larsen ".. has been in the service of Hay & Ogilvy as Mate for more than Seven years.." - hence started with them before Apr 1836.



5 Arrival in Shetland

5.1 Katie Higgins' notes [ Link ]

These indicate arrival via shipwreck (which is also the familty oral tradition); However, Dr Alan Beattie indicates that "shipwreck" was probably a figure-of-speech, simply indicating an unknown mode of arrival. This concept is supported by the observation that there was regular commerce between Denmark and Shetland, so a sailor genuinely shipwrecked would have no difficulty (or delay) in finding passage back home!

5.2 Hay and Ogilvy archives

When the Shetland Archives are accessible, I wish to find out whether the archives of Hay and Ogilvy hold any further information on Larsen's initial employment with Hay and Ogilvy

5.3 Thomas Davidson letter

On 19 Nov 2006 I visited Mr Brian Bolt, living in the Manawatu, New Zealand. Mr Bolt very kindly allowed me to photograph a letter dated 25 Sept 1893; The Sender of the letter is Mr Thomas Davidson, oldest son of Robert Davidson (b 1769, d) and Robert Davidson's first wife (Ann Sinclair). The recipient of the letter is Mr Francis ("Frank") Bruce Bolt, ARANZ) son of Bruce Craigie Lawson (daughter of Isabella Davidson and Frederick Larsen 1802 - 1859) and Wm Mouat Bolt (MLC).
Thomas Davidson's letter, was written from Glenore (dated 25 Sept 1893) to Francis Bruce Bolt, concerning F B Bolt's ancestors. It says of Frederick Larsen (Sr) "your grandfather was, by name, Frederick Lawson, a shipmaster, a Dean, by birth, who came to Lerwick about the year 1838, and some years after that, was married to my half-sister, Isabella Davidson - your grandMother, who died about the year 47 or 48, leaving a young family of four children..."

6 Service with Hay & Ogilvy (later Hay and Co)

6.1 Hay and Ogilvy

We know nothing of Larsen's original employment with Hay and Ogilvy - perhaps this will come to light when it is possible to search Hay & Ogilvy's archives.



6.2 Testimonial from Hay & Ogilvie

R Davidson's letter gives the background to this document:  it was given to Larsen at about the time when Hay & Ogilvy (and the Shetland bank) failed, evidently to assist Larsen in finding alternative employment.
 I believe that this photocopy of the handwritten document was obtained from the UK (Kew) Office of Public Records by Dr Alan Beattie, partly in response to a request from my father, W J Robertson.



These Certify that the bearer Frederick Larsen of Hamburgh has been in the service of Hay & Ogilvy as Mate for more than Seven years, during all which time he conducted himself with the greatest propriety and to the satisfaction of his Queen & of the masters he sailed with - and thus I can recommend him as an honest, steady man - who will be an acquisition to any shipowner who may require his services
Will'm Hay
Merchants and Shipowners in Lerwick

Lerwick 14 April 1843



Notes The name is quoted as "Frederick Larsen" - yet the name quoted in the application for naturalisation is "Lawson" - this puts a fairly accurate date on the anglicization of the name.
Using these dates, we can conclude that F Larsen must have been employed by Hay and Ogilvy earlier than April 1836. This date aligns well with the information that Dr Alan Beattie of Kent sent to W J Robertson in March 1987. Dr Beattie found in the Public Records Office the information that "On 15th May 1845 Frederick Larsen has been in the British Merchant Navy for 9 years, 3 months". These dates indicates that F Larsen joined the Merchant Navy in about February 1836.
The wording "..of Hamburgh" is fascinating. The appplication for naturalisation stated under oath and before quite a selection of prominent witnesses that "Frederick Lawson" was "a native of Denmark". This would appear to allow the options that he resided in Hamburgh after leaving Denmark, or even (unlikely) that there were two individuals (Frederick Lawson, AND Frederick Larsen) in the employ of Hay & Co. 



6.3 Glasgow - USA

Davidson's letter [ Link ] refers to Larsen sailing between Glasgow and USA. It appears that this occurred after the failure of the firm of Hay and Ogilvy (and the Shetland bank)



6.4 Hay & Company

"Hay & Company. Merchants in Shetland". by James R Nicolson. Pub by Hay & Company (Lerwick) Ltd. 1982. Chapter 5: "The Company's Fleet".

Page 86
" In 1849 we find James Phillips in command of the George Canning while the following year George Wishart was in charge during a trip to the Baltic. In 1851 Captain Frederick Larsen, a Dane married to a Shetland lady [footnote: "Mr Thomas Henderson, oral information"] was serving as master with Robert Gray of Scalloway as mate."

Page 92 "There were changes in the other vessels too. In 1854, Captain Fred Larsen who had commanded the George Canning was put in charge of the Thomas Graham. One of his first voyages in his new command was to Pillau in the Baltic with a cargo of herring. It was late when he arrived there and the winter had set in. He brought the Thomas Graham in "as far as the ice" where the cargo was unloaded onto sledges. By the time the cargo was out the vessel was entirely frozen in and had to spend the winter there. She returned to Lerwick in April , 1855 and her next woyage was to Leith where she was put into dry-dock to have her bottom recoated"

(Pillau == Baltiysk, port on the Baltic sea Link

Baltiysk (Russian: ?????´???), prior to 1945 known by its German name Pillau (Polish: Pilawa; Lithuanian: Piliava), is today a Russian sea port [1] in the strait between Vistula Bay and Gdansk Bay, called Strait of Baltiysk, in the Kaliningrad Oblast enclave. Located at 54°39'N, 19°55'E, Baltiysk is the westernmost town of Russia. Population is 33,252 (2002 Census) largely inflated by military personnel and their dependents. (In 1900 the town's population was 3000). Baltiysk is, along with Kaliningrad, one of two year-round, ice-free ports along the Baltic Sea coastline available to Russia. )


  6.4.1 Note on the "George Canning"

Ref: "Hay & Company. Merchants in Shetland". by James R Nicolson. Published by Hay & Company (Lerwick) Ltd. 1982 Chapter 5: The Company's Fleet

"Typical of the fleet was the George Canning registered in the name of Harry Cheyne, William Hay's son-in-law" Pages 85-86. First mentioned in 1844. Rebuilt at Freefield in the winter of 1845-1846 to lengthen her, and increase her tonnage from 34 to 40 tonnes. The ship sank after hitting a rock in Yell sound, in 1863 (page 94).

LJR note: this "George Canning" is actually quite a small ship, and must be carefully distinguished from better-known and larger vessels of the same name. One such is the GEORGE CANNING (1852)
[Link] . This vessel was commanded by Capt. Paul Nickels Paulsen (1812-1882). The Hamburg ship GEORGE CANNING was built at Lübeck by Hans Jacob Albrecht Meyer, for the account of Robert Miles Sloman of Hamburg, in 1852. She displaced 857 tons. This "GEORGE CANNING" sailed exclusively between Hamburg and New York. She was lost on 1 January 1855 on Groß Vogelsand, at the mouth of the Elbe River. Yet another "GEORGE CANNING", displacement 411 tonnes, commanded by Sims, is recorded as having visited Port Chalmers (Dunedin, New Zealand) on 28 Nov 1857 [Link]]



  6.4.2 Note on the "Thomas Graham "

Ref: "Hay & Company. Merchants in Shetland". by James R Nicolson. Published by Hay & Company (Lerwick) Ltd. 1982 Chapter 5: The Company's Fleet

Ref Chapter 5, page 49, mentioned that in 1853, commanded by Captain John W Petrie, trading with Iceland for ponies.
In 1860, the Thomas Graham (commanded by captain Ridland) ran aground on 27 Feb at Duart Bay in the sound of Mull. The company decided not to repair her, and she was sold to Captain Thomas Candlish of Dumfries. (Page 94)

LJR Note: The last paragraph of "The Story of The Scaur; And the Water of Urr Shipping". by Scouronian, 1923 [Link] , adds the following information: "....Captain John Candlish, a brother of Captain Thomas Candlish, died at Rockcliffe several years ago after many years&rsquo life at sea as skipper of Water of Urr vessels engaged in the coasting trade. He was master of the &ldquoThomas Graham&rdquo at one time &ndash a vessel that was lost at sea on the night of the storm that caused the Tay Bridge disaster.....". LJR note, the Tay bridge disaster occurred on the night of 28th December 1879 - [Link] 

A portion of Frederick Larsen's log, relating to his service aboard the "Thomas Graham", is now available and is described in section 8 of this document.

6.4.3 Some additional information about this vessel appears in the Bayanne database entry for John William Petrie;
'Thomas Graham'
vessel registered at Lerwick 5th. (or 12th.) December 1849, 91 tons, John William Petrie, ticket no. 45228, master.
Schedule 'C' (Account of Crew of Foreign going Ship, to be delivered at the end of the Voyage) for voyage from Shetland to London, Newcastle, thence to Sable le Clonne and back to Lerwick leaving 15 Oct. 1850, returning to Lerwick 12 Feb. 1851. John William Petrie, 31, b. Lerwick, last of same vessel, joined 15 Oct. 1850, Master.

There was a Schedule 'M' form for the 'Thomas Graham', 'Release at the Termination of a Voyage' for a voyage from Lerwick to Stathille, Norway, and back to Lerwick, lasting from 1 March to 21 March 1851. Also a schedule 'C'. All the men signed off on Lerwick 22 March, John William Petrie, 31, b. Lerwick, joined 1st. March, Master.

See also Hay & Co. Whaling record D.31/6/17 pages 95, 161, 229 and 259.

Schedule 'C' form, 'account of crew' form, 21 April, Lerwick, to 12 Sept., Scalloway, cod fishing at the Davis Strait. All the rules applying to the 'Janet Hay' applied. Crew - John William Petrie, 31, b. Lerwick, Master, retained.

Schedule 'D' agreement, sailing 30th. October for Hamburg and returning to Lerwick 30 December. Crew - John William Petrie, 31, b. Lerwick, late of the same vessel, retained.



6.5 Correspondence between Davidson and marine authories re Larsen's Mariners Register Ticket

6.5.1 Background

Apparently  F Larsen ran into difficulties with getting his Mariners Register Ticket, due to his Danish citizenship.
Note, this letter is dated 1845, written by Larsen's then father-in-law, Rob Davidson.  Isabella Davidson died 5 Nov 1848.

6.5.2 Transcript
Copy - correspondence relative to the Memorialists application for a Register Ticket

Letter detailing the circumstances of his case - Mr Robert Davidson his Father-In-Law - to The Collector and Comptroller of Customs, Lerwick.
Lerwick 15th May 1845

I am sorry for giving you this trouble; but being an urgent case which I beg leave to state, I trust will plead for me.
It is now the full period of nine years and three months since Frederick Larsen belonging to Denmark near Copenhagen entered into the British Merchant Service as a sailor; during which period he has been in the employ of Messrs Hay and Ogilvy General Merchants and Bankers here, and employed as chief Mate in respectable ????, until of late when their business failed. And when that took place they gave Lawson Recommendation & certificate of his steady ways, abilities and good conducts, to such ship owners and ships masters as he might again get employment with. Lawson consequently went to Glasgow and was immediately employed as Mate of a coasting Schooner-rigged vessel, but just now in last April when said vessel's crew were receiving their Register tickets from the Customhouse, Lawson was denied a Ticket, and not allowed to sail in the Coasting Trade as formerly, he was consequently obliged to take a voyage to America in a vessel trading to and from Glasgow. Lawson has now been employed upwards of nine years as above - stated in the British Merchant Service and married to a British woman with whom he has three children; and being a navigator and can speak and write the English language well, has requested me to make enquiry ?? ?? the Law or an amendment of the Law regarding Register Tickets, may be construed in his favour for obtaining permission to sail in the British Merchant coasting trade as formerly. I would therefore humbly solicit yoru favour by obtaining information accordingly.

I am, ????? gentlemen your humble serv
signed Rob Davidson


  The forgoing was forwarded by the Gentlemen to whom it was addressed, to the Register General of Merchant Seamen in London who returned an answer of which the following is a copy.

General Register and Record office of Seamen
Custom House, London, 23 May 1845 \
In reply to your letter of 17th instant enclosing a communication from Mr R Davidson of Lerwick bearing date the 15th May 1845, appealing to you in behalf of a Danish Seaman named 'Frederick Lawson' for a Mariners Register Ticket, &tc I have to observe that , the individual concerned being a Foreigner is neither required nor permitted to receive a "Mariners Register Ticket", such tickets applying only to those persons who are "Subjects of Her Majesty" Queen Victoria.. There is nothing new in the Law which prevents a Foreigner being employed in the Coasting and Fishing trades of the United Kingdom, it being strictly laid down in the Navigation Acts (3rd & 4th ?? 4th ?? 54) that none but British Seamen shall be employed in vessels so engaged; which law is not in any way interfered with by the Acts of the 7th and 8th Victorian Cap?? 112... But if "Lawson" desires to serve in the Coasting Trade, he must previously posses a Register Ticket; & I think that under the circumstances set forth in the appeal referred to, that he has good cause under the 6 & 7 sections of the "Alien Act" (7 & 8 Victoria Cap? 66) to petition the Secretary of State (The Right Hon'le Mr J Graham), praying to be admitted a Naturalized Subject of Her Majesty, and upon his obtaining the Certificate of Naturalization and taking the Oath of Allegiance, he will then bhe considered a Subject of Her Majesty and be entitled to receive a Mariners Register Ticket. Cases similar to his have occurred and the Parties have I believe obtained the Certificate of Naturalization, the cost of which is but a trifle, as I understand of two or three shillings; and I see no reason why "Lawson" should not likewise experience the benefits offered in the "Alien Act" in question.
(Signed) Charles Boyd Snr
Asst Registrar

7 Naturalisation

The response to Davidson's letter indicates that Larsen's only option, if he wishes to continue in his trade, is to apply for British Citizenship.

7.1 "memorial"

Reference H01 / 21/ 324

To the Right Honorable
The Secretary of State for the home ?House (of) ?????

22 December 1845
The memorial of Frederick Lawson, Sailor, residing in Lerwick, Zetland, North of Britain

That the Memorialist is a Native of Denmark is forty one years of age and is a Sailor - is a qualified navigator and can speak and write the English language. That in the month of May last the memorialist had been employed nine years and three months in the British merchant coasting trade, and has during that period contributed regularly to the Merchant Seamen's Fund as a British Sailor.. That the memorialist is married to a Native of Lerwick in that part of Great Britain called Zetland where his family, consisting of a wife and three children, is settled and he is anxious to become naturalized as a British Subject in terms of the Acts 7' and 8' Victoria cap. 66 and ready to take the oath therein prescribed , as he intends to reside in the kingdom. Wherefore the memorialist himself humbly craves that you will will be pleased to grant to him the certificate authorised by said Acts giving the Rights and Capabilities of a Natural born British Subject as therein stated, he taking the oath of allegiance therein mentioned

And your memorialist shall ever pray etc- -???

Frederick Lawson.

7.2 Subscribers

=== === === === === === === ===

Lerick 24 December 1845
We the subscribers herby certify that to the best of our knowledge the statements contained in the within memorial of Mr Frederick Lawson are perfectly correct.

J ?? Leask, sailor of Lerwick John Morgan Minister Robert Davisdson Elder R S Kilgour, Coll. of M H Customs

=== === === ===

On same sheet, in a different hand

In Lerwick the sixteeth day of January in the year eighteen hundred and forty six; in presence of Francis Heddells Esquire of ???lands one of Her Majestys Justices of the Peace f or Zetland, ???? the within named and designed Frederick Lawson, who being so ??ly sworn and interrogated deposes that all and each of the statements in the within Memorial are true, as he shall answer to God.

F H Heddell J P Frederick Lawson

=== === === ===

In Lerwick the sixteenth day of January and year foresaid, In presence of Joseph Leask Esquire one of the Magistrates of Lerwick, appeared the persons undersigned also householders in the Burgh of ?Lerwick who severally declared and hereby declare that they know the said Frederick Lawson and do vouch for his respectability, and his loyalty as a British subject: as also that the several statements or particulars ??? written memorial as grounds for his obtaining a certificate of naturalisation, are all true to the best of their knowledge and belief.

Rob Davidson
David Hay
Thos. Jamieson
?? Hart
William Irvine
John Mullay
Joseph Leask Magistrate

7.3 Notes

We can deduce several things;  Firstly, the document is given under oath, and supported by the sworn statements of a significant number of persons - we must give a good deal of credence to the basic facts re Larsen's country of origin, year of birth, etc.  Secondly,  Larsen/Lawson was fairly determined to remain in his position.  Thirdly,  he had the strong support of his community (neighbours, townspeople in positions of influence, and colleagues). His father-in-law was obviously willing to act on Larsen/Lawson's behalf


7.4 Note confirming grant of naturalisation

This document was obtained by L J Robertson, from Public Records Office (Kew, UK) in Sept 2006.

8 Seaman's ticket

8.1 Request for registration ticket

Following grant of citizenship to Larsen, he was able to make request for a mariners registration ticket

8.2 Certificate of Service

Given by Hay and Co to Larsen, presumably in support of his application for a mariners registration ticket. Obtained by L J Robertson, from Public Records Office (Kew, UK) in Sept 2006.

8.3 Larsen's mariners registration ticket

This document was obtained by L J Robertson, from Public Records Office (Kew, UK) in Sept 2006.

On 3 Nov 2009, I received a letter from J C Robertson, of Lerwick Shetland (See "current generation of Shetlanders" file).  Joan enclosed correspondence that had been sent by Mrs Mary Atkin, to Dr Alan Beattie.  Mrs Atkin's letter requested Dr Beattie to pass on the contents to me, since they related to Frederick Larsen (Mrs Atkin had seen my 2007 article on Frederick Larsen, in 'Coontin kin').  I corresponded with Mary Atkin, and as a result Mrs Atkin offered to post me photocopies of the portions of Frederick Larsen's log.

These documents arrived in Palmerston North 091222.  The PDF version of the document is  here

The first page of the log is shown below:
Log fragment

9 Marriages and children

9.1 Marriages and immediate descendents

Tony Gott's excellent Bayanne database lists F Larsen's immediate family.

The Bayanne database can be accessed directly via the following [
Link ]


In an email addressed to Lindsay J Robertson, dated 28 February 2006, Mr David Murray comments

"... both families used the name Lawson after naturalisation. The point I was making was that Tony Gott indicates that the name Lawson was used at the time of his first marriage and the christening of his first three children whereas the name used was Larsen. The third child of that marriage (Barbara) was named as the child of Frederick Lawson. She was christened in February 1847. By that time Larsen had been naturalisaed and used the name Lawson. In the death record of Isabella Davidson in 1848 she is described as the wife of Fred Lawson......"


Census' reveal some information regarding the lives of Larsen's family in the years immediately following his death:
1851: Frederick, Agnes, Frederick (Jr), Bruce, Ann, Barbara
1861: Agnes and Barbara Ann Elizabeth, Margaret, Agnes, George
1871: Agnes, George, Agnes Elizabeth Margaret
We also have the following trees From Catherine Lawson (Higgins) Back Front

From Mr Brian Bolt Tree

9.2 Unexplained references

I have a hand-written family tree that originated (to the best of my knowledge) from Mr W M Bolt of Wellington.  On this document, above Frederick Larsen's name - and in the same writing as the rest of the document - is written "  (Catherine Lawson) ".  My father, W J Robertson has speculated that this refers to Frederick Lawson/Larsen's mother - but I have found no other evidence for this. My personal observation is that it is significant that the surname "Lawson" is quoted - one would have expected that either the name quoted would have been "Larsen", or the mother's maiden name.
Here is a partial image of this document.  I have asked the Bolt family to investigate the origins of the document and the 'Catherine Lawson" notation, but have no results to date. Although peripheral to the topic, the document illustrates the close connections in the community - the Davidson name appears more than once, as does Captain Petrie (also employed by Hay & Co)

9.3 Wives

We have no photographs of Larsen/Lawson, however his second wife, Agnes (Nee Tulloch) emigrated to New Zealand after Lawson's death and remarried to Francis Bolt.  She died and is buried with F Bolt at the Taieri Beach cemetery, Otago, New Zealand.

We do have a photograph of Agnes, wearing a Shetland shawl -

9.4 1841 Census

Note:  although the Hay&Ogilvie and Naturalisation papers indicate employment  with Hay since about 1836, F Larsen does not seem to appear in the Shetland 1841 census.
This could simply indicate that he was absent at sea, at the time of the census.

9.5 Reference in "Sons and Daughters"

Mrs Margaret S Robertson of Lerwick authored the well-known book "Sons and Daughters of Shetland, 1800 - 1900". The book is unfortunately out of print. Mrs Robertson has very kindly given permission for Mr John Robertson of Lerwick (grandson of her late husband, Lindsay Robertson) to reproduce the book's contents in database format on the ShetlandRoots website.

The entry regarding Larsen/Lawson is as follows:

LAWSON or LARSEN Frederick Captain
DOB:0//1803 DOD:25/Sept/1859
Bio Born in Denmark he was a captain serving the firm of Hay and Company in Shetland. In 1851 he was master of the George Canning and in 1854 the Thomas Graham. One of his first voyages was to Pillau in the Baltic with a cargo of herring. The vessel was frozen in the ice and wintered there, returning to Lerwick in 1855. Captain Larsen was naturalised and changed the name to Lawson. His first wife was Isabella Davidson daughter of Robert Davidson and Bruce Craigie. They married on 7th March 1839. Agnes Tulloch cared for the children when Isabella died and she became his wife on 29th August 1850. Elizabeth Lawson, born 31.12.1852, daughter, emigrated and married William Robertson of Bressay, born 26.4.1857. They settled in New Zealand and have descendants there.
Ref Nicolson J. R., Hay and Company, p.p. 86 and 92; The Shetland Times, 30.3.1889; Information from the late W. J. Robertson, Dunedin, New Zealand.

9.6 1851 Census

The 1851 census [ Link ] quotes F Larsen living at Chromate lane, Lerwick

9.7 Scalloway

Katie Higgins letter [ Link ] quotes the Larsen/Lawson family as later moving to Scalloway - which is consistent with the observation that he is buried in the Tingwall churchyard.

9.8 Reference in "Shetland Times"
In Margaret Robertson's book "Sons and Daughters of Shetland, 1800 - 1900", in the section on Frederick Larsen, Margaret makes reference to the Shetland Times of 30/03/1889.

On 5 June 2007, Mrs Elizabeth Angus, of the Shetland FHS, emailed me (Lindsay Robertson), as follows:

"... I viewed the reel for the Shetland Times for 30/03/1889 As follows: Under Shetland Notes & Queries FREDERICK LARSEN'S FAMILY- His widow, son, and two daughters from the second marriage, went to the colonies and all are now married. One of the girls, however, came back to Shetland. The two girls of the first marriage, also went to the colonies, I believe Australia, and are married. ..."

10 Death and burial

10.1 Tingwall church records

W J Robertson (1923 - 1988) information re death of Frederick Larsen:  I understand that this information was discovered by Mr Brian Smith (Shetland museum archivist) as a result of research at the Tingwall church.
" First married on 11th March 1839 to Isabella Davidson, in Shetland. Second marriage on 29th August 1850 to Agnes Tulloch, in Shetland. Died 25th September 1859 at 6pm at Scalloway. He was buried in the Tingwall Church Yard on 28th September 1859. His death was registered, on the 30th September by George Edgar an acquaintance. This information is from the Tingwall records. Frederick Larsen's death records do not record his parents' names. "

I (L J Robertson) have attempted to contact descendants of George Edgar, in the hope of finding additional notes - no success at present.

On 5 June 2007, Mrs Elizabeth Angus, of the Shetland FHS, emailed me (Lindsay Robertson), as follows:

Death certificate : Surname of this LAWSON died Scalloway 25/09/1859, buried Tingwall Church Yard on 28/09/1859 Married but no age given Death registered by George Edgar, an acquaintance, Laxfirth [George Edgar was a farmer, I think & Laxfirth is a property in Tingwall]
[ LJR Note, 6 June 2007. In a brief posting, posting, Rosemary Baxter (Genealogist, and relative, of Aberdeen) refers to the Tingwall Kirk roll , specifically
Role of the Male Heads of Families, members of the Congregation and also regular communicants belonging to the United Parishes of Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale revised and readjusted after the dispensation of the Sacrament of the Supper in the months of April and August, Eighteen Hundred and Thirty Seven in these Parishes. List of Male Heads of Families being communicants previous to November, 1837.]
Laxfirth:- ...,...,George Edgar
From this it appears that George Edgar was a local worthy, entrusted to register a death.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that the listing for "Wadbuster" includes Frances Leisk ;Peter Goodlad ;James Flett, but does not list any Robertsons in such a role - must have been a disreputable lot!!


Appendix A: Higgins letter

Letter from Catherine (Katie) Smith, Nee Higgins
Details of the letter is here [
Link ].
The following transcription is extracted from a 12 page handwritten memoir prepared by Catherine (Katie) Higgins.

Katie's grandfather was George Hay Lawson, son of Frederick Larsen and Agnes Tulloch.

Katie prepared her memoir document late in her life (when her health was deteriorating), at the request of her grand-daughter.

I (Lindsay Robertson) hold a photocopy of the original.

The document is in four parts, only two of which are relevant to Captain Frederick Larsen.

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. . . . .   Omitted for clarity - not related to Frederick Larsen . . . .

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Off the coast fo the Shetland Islands, early in the 19th Century.

A good many years earlier than all this, a daring resourceful young Dane, Frederick Larsen, was at the wheel of his small cargo vessel, his course set for the Shetland Islands, away to the north of Scotland.  He had realised his early ambition to go to sea, and command his own ship, although the way up had been hard and full of danger in those far Northern seas, but he had "made it", as we say today.  And now here he was with a cargo of timber from the forests of Scandanavia for the treeless Shetland Islands.  He had made more than one successful run this summer, but now it was late in the year and this trip was a risk he had decided to take.  Anytime now, those terrible winter storms might sweep down from the Arctic in all their fury. He studied the darkening sky and felt a slight unease as he thought he could see a faint greyness in the North. Handing over the wheel to the next in command, he went below to check the barometer reading;  it was falling already, and as he emerged from the hatch up on deck, he was sure that the wind had begun to rise slightly, and there was an ominous swell.  It seemed that they were in for a good blow after all.  Well the next day would see them safely in Lerwick;  they would give it a good try anyway.  Quickly he gave orders to ??reduce?? sail and batten down all hatches securely.  By now it was blowing almost a gale, and the wind whistling ominously through the rigging.  It was a dreadful night of story and icy rain.  Then in the first grey light of dawn, the lookout suddenly called "land dead ahead".  It was too late.  The fury of wind and waves was too much, the brave little vessel was carried onto the rocks of that rugged Shetland coast, battered and broken.  Frederick survived, but his boat was lost, so he decided to stay on the islands and make a living somehow.  He soon found occupation and the name was changed from Larsen to Lawson.  It wasn't long before he met and married Isabella Davidson. In time they had a son, Frederick, and three daughters.  Bruce the eldest, then Anne and Barbara the youngest.  All seemed well with them until Isabella sickened and died.  They needed a housekeeper, and there was Agnes Tullock willing to give it a try.  After a time Frederick married her, and in due course the family grew,  There were three more daughters, Margaret (Maggie), Elisabeth (Libby).  Then there was little Arthur, whose stay on this earth was brief indeed.  Whooping cough was too much for a tiny babe, and Arthur succumbed.  Another son, George, was the next.  A friend of the family happened to come to the house the day he was born, and the new son was given his names - all four of them.  "George Husband Baird Hay" & no doubt was duly registered, but he never called himself or signed his name other than George Lawson.  Then came the youngest daughter, Agnes.  The older family were fast growing up, youing Fred away to sea, Bruce looking forward to marriage to William Bolt from (LJR note; text appears to read "Caster" or "Coster", assumed to mean Cruister) Caster;  his father was a blacksmith, as had been his father before him, for many generations.  Young William however was anxious to break away, and talked of sailing to New Zealand.  Anne had the offer of a situation as a "Ladie's maid".  All were expert knitters, the younger girls too.  Agnes had here spinning wheel and could often obtain wool from a dead sheep if unable to obtain if any other way.  Age was taking its toll of Frederick, and that combined with the endless battle with nature to manage to exist in that harsh north land had left its mark (LJR note: 1857" is inserted here) and when George was just four years old Agnes was left a widow.  They had left Lerwick and were now living in Scalloway, a few miles further inland.  Then came another blow;  news reached them that young Fred had fallen from the mast of his boat to the deck, and had been killed.  Those were difficult days, but they kept going. George, still young, was the only man in the family, and it would be his responsibility to provide for is Mother and Sisters.  I have since often heard him tell how, when he was about six years old, he had earned a few pence for carrying peat, and how proudly he had brought his earnings home to his Mother[[ inserted text...when the Halcrows wer starting their ??? ]] he would have been trying to earn what he could to keep the widow Agnes.

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. . . . .   Omitted for clarity - not related to Frederick Larsen . . . .

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We left the Lawson family growing up and working hard to survive, in the Shetlands.   Bruce married William Bolt, and they emigrated to Dunedin, NZ.  Ann married Samuel Busby, a professional gardener, & they settled in Dunedin,  So too did Maggie who had married John Russell a cooper by trade.  George by now was 13, & decided to follow in his father's footsteps and go to the fishing. The fleet set out but soon ran into terrible storms.  All the vessels except the one George was on made it back safely to harbour.  For some time there was no news, and the vessel was given up as lost.  Poor Agnes was dreadfully upset, & then one day a lone battered fishing ship pulled into port.  Mr Richardson, the local shopkeeper who had been a great help to Agnes said that George was not to go to sea again, but that he would employ him in his shop.


Appendix B: PRO letter

The Public Record Office search results are summarised in their covering letter:
This letter was sent to L J Robertson, in response to a search request issues to PRO in August 2006.

Appendix C: Frederick Larsen (Jr)

According to Katie Higgins' letter transcript above), Frederick Larsen's son, Frederick Lawson Jr, was killed when he fell from the mast of a ship.

This piece of information was without corroboration until recently, however on 19 Nov 2006 I visited Mr Brian Bolt, living in the Manawatu, New Zealand. Mr Bolt very kindly allowed me to photograph a letter dated 25 Sept 1893; The Sender of the letter was Mr Thomas Davidson, oldest son of Robert Davidson (b 1769) and Robert Davidson's first wife (Ann Sinclair). The recipient of the letter is Mr Francis ("Frank") Bruce Bolt, ARANZ, son of Bruce Craigie Lawson (daughter of Isabella Davidson and Frederick Larsen 1802 - 1859) and Wm Mouat Bolt (MLC).
Thomas Davidson's letter, was written from Glenore (on the road from Clarksville Junction towards Lawrence, South-West of Dunedin, New Zealand) to Francis Bruce Bolt, concerning F B Bolt's ancestors. It says of Frederick Larsen Jr "... I may now tell you that your uncle Fred was a fine smart young fellow, was second mate of a ship called the Beema?? of Liverpool, was in Melbourne in said ship, about the year 56, sailed for India, from there for France, where, poor fellow, he fell from aloft, and was no more..."

Note - LJR. According to the entry in Tony Gott's "Bayanne" database, [ Link ], Frederick Larsen (Jr) was born 7 Dec 1839; at the date of the 1841 Census was "Resident at Main Street, Lerwick", and at the date of the 1851 Census he was "Resident at Chromate Lane, Lerwick". Assuming Thomas Davidson's dates are correct, then he must have gone to sea as a boy of 16 or 17, and his fatal fall was probably when he was about 17 years of age.

The microfilmed records of the Great Britain, Board of Trade, Mercantile Marine Department, Index to surnames La - Ly (BT114/14) Film 1502074 exist and have been searched (by L J Robertson).

The relevant film is from the sequence: "Series details: BT 114. Admiralty and Board of Trade: General Registry and Record Office of Seamen: Alphabetical Index to Registers of Seamen's Tickets. 1845-1854 " The film is clearly made by photographing a bound volume - ie, you see left and right-hand pages; The relevent entry has "81" typewritten at the top of the RHS leaf; the relevant entry has handwritten "118" above the left hand leaf (which records Lawson's ticket) and handwritten "110" above the right hand leaf - which also has the typewritten "81" notation.

The image of the fight-hand leaf also has the film identifier, viz "BT114/13". The first of the following is an enlarged image, the second is a composite image, showing the entry for Frederick Lawson, with his ticket number "592356" and the film identifier – BT114/13.

Information on the "Beema of Liverpool"

Voyages of the Beemah of Liverpool
The following extracts from Australian newpapers verify the Davidson letter's attestation that Larsen (Jr) visited Australia, en route from India, and presumably en-route to his date with fate in French waters.
Beemah visit to Hobart Beemah visit to Melbourne Beemah visit to Sydney

Appendix D: Secondary reference to Frederick Larsen

A number of secondary references to F Larsen exist:

these are as follows

Helen Watson material - Veitch-Davidson material

Mary Atkin - F Larsen Log portion

A complete scan of the log is here

In 2007, I wrote a brief piece for "Coontin kin", the magazine of the Shetland Family History Society. The paper is here