John James Lawson (commonly known as Jack Lawson) was born in Whitehaven, Cumberland on 16th October 1881. His father, John Lawson, was a sailor and a miner, and young Jack Lawson grew up in poverty within an illiterate family including ten children. Lawson developed a love of books during his time in primary school, which would develop further as he grew older, but he was unable to pursue this through formal education.
Involvement in mining communities
At the age of nine, Lawson's family moved to be near Boldon colliery in county Durham. In 1893, at the age of twelve, Lawson himself left school and began work alongside his father and older brothers at the colliery. He began work at a starting wage of 10d. a day, later becoming a driver and then a hewer in 1904. During this time, in 1906, he married Isabella Graham, domestic servant, with whom he would later have three children.