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John Laing (Haddo)

John Laing [1756-1822] and James Laing were brothers from Haddo (Aberdeenshire) who went to Dominica, where James worked as a doctor and John as a superintendent for the Board of Ordnance. James returned to live at Streatham in Surrey, where he died in 1831.

John moved from Dominica to Demerara in the 1790s, where he remained until at least 1811 [Colin Chisholm, An Essay on the Malignant Pestilential Fever; Essequibo & Demerara Gazette, 19 March 1811]. He was already the owner of Rosemount House near Perth when, on 20 April 1802, he married Isabella Peebles, daughter of the Rev. Adam Peebles, minister of the Episcopal chapel there [Scots Magazine, 1802]. He died at Rosemount on 10 October 1822, described as ‘late of the colony of Demerary'. His death notice noted that ‘He was, in the most extensive meaning of the words, “an honest man, the noblest work of God”’[Gentleman’s Magazine, 1822].

 

John's nephew, Allan Stewart Laing − the son of his brother James − was the lawyer and police magistrate who was the model for Charles Dickens’ harsh and vindictive Mr Fang in Oliver Twist. Laing was eventually removed as a magistrate because of his unreasonable sentences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Fang by J. Clayton Clarke ("Kyd") c. 1900