The Irish Presence in the History and Place Names of Cuba

The Irish Presence in the History and Place Names of Cuba

By Rafael Fernández Moya

Jaime Lawton was the owner of several haciendas in the Matanzas region, among them a sugar plantation located in the town of Ceja de Pablo, another called Mercedita, in Lagunillas, and the Hernaní coffee plantation, bought in 1852, located in the Coliseo region. He was one of the partners of the company that built the Almacenes de Regla (Regla Warehouses) in the south of Havana in 1849-1850, and set up a nail factory in Regla town, on the other side of the bay from the capital. In May 1853 he was an administrator of the Compañía de Vapores de la Bahía (Bahía Steamship Company).

When Jaime Lawton died in 1857, a nephew, Santiago M. Lawton, originally from the United States, remained at the head of the business. A few years later, Santiago and two of his brothers, Benjamin E. and Roberto G. Lawton, formed a new commercial enterprise under the name Lawton Hermanos (Lawton Brothers), and in the 1870s worked as traders, import agents and consignees of boats.

After the death of the brothers Santiago M. and Benjamín E Lawton, their representative formed his own company in 1895 under the name G. Lawton, Childs y Cía., in which Roberto G. Lawton was a joint partner. The partners of this new company worked as bankers, businessmen and consignees of ships. Around 1915 G. Lawton, Childs y Cía. was being managed by William Wallace Lawton, a former employee who had been born in Havana but retained his US citizenship.

One of the capital’s residential neighbourhoods owes its name to him as he spent several years in the business of urbanisation of the land in the Lawton subdivision of La Víbora. This activity, begun in the nineteenth century, gained importance in the third decade of the following century, with W.W. Lawton extending his business concerns with the establishment of a company called Compañía Constructora de Cuba S.A. (Cuban Construction Company Ltd.), which built Anglo-Saxon “cottage” style houses. One of the streets of the original lot of land was also called Lawton.