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Lawson was in command of ships in the parliament's service during and after the English Civil War, 1642-6, 1651-3, 1654-6. He was dismissed from the public service, apparently on political grounds in 1656. An anabaptist and republican, he was implicated in the conspiracy of the Fifth Monarchists and arrested in 1657. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the fleet in 1659 and co-operated with General George Monck in the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. A grateful King Charles II of England knighted him in 1660. Commissioned as the vice-admiral of the red squadron for the Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1665, he died of a wound received at the battle of Lowestoft.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lee, Sidney, ed. (1903). "Lawson, John (d.1665)". Dictionary of National Biography. Index and Epitome. Cambridge University Press. p. 775.
- David Plant (1 December 2005). "John Lawson". British-civil-wars.co.uk.
- "Sir John Lawson (Pepys' Diary)". Pepysdiary.com.
- "Diary entries from March 1665 (Pepys' Diary)". Pepysdiary.com.
- "Pictured: Divers discover amazingly preserved shipwreck of HMS London on bottom of Thames - News - London Evening Standard". Thisislondon.co.uk. 26 August 2008.
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