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William Lawson Bates is the fourth of Gil and Kelly Bates' nineteen children. He is married to Tiffany Espensen Bates.

Early Life

Lawson at 1 year old

William Lawson Bates was born on July 27, 1992, to Gil Bates and Kelly Jo Callaham. He was the couple's fourth child, and they went on to have fifteen more children after him. Lawson's first name, William, is after his father and grandfather. Some of his close family members call him "Willie".[1] Lawson's middle name, which he goes by with most people, was picked out by his older brother, Zach, before his parents even knew he was going to be a boy.[2] Lawson spoke about having so many siblings in interviews, where he said "It's really good for relationship building. There's always someone there to show you who's been through it before."[3]

Lawson is said to be a humorous person who has always kept his family in stitches. His parents also consider him wise and cautious.[4]

Along with his siblings, Lawson was homeschooled growing up.[5] Although he was brought up as an active participant of Bill Gothard's Institute in Basic Life Principles, he has denounced Bill Gothard and his ministry as an adult. "IBLP & ATI are no longer affiliated with Mr. Gothard," Lawson said in a comment on his sister Erin's Instagram photo. "ALL of us make our own decisions & follow Jesus Christ. People will always let you down. Christ never will. My dad joined the board only around 2 years ago & was as unaware of accusations as anyone. I don't support him or his ministry."[6] It is unclear if the "ministry" Lawson is referring to is IBLP or Bill Gothard's new ministries.

Lawson playing the piano as a child

Lawson has always loved music. He started playing the piano when he was seven years old, followed by the guitar at eleven years old. He wrote his first song when he was fifteen years old.[1]

At eleven years old, Lawson became a Christian.[7]

Lawson buying groceries for his family as a teenager

Lawson opened his own lawn-cutting business, Lawson's Lawncare, at only thirteen years old.[8] His business proved very successful, and by the time he was nineteen years old he was able to loan out large sums to members of his family, including $1,000 to his brother Zach for a car, $2,000 to his sister Erin for college tuition, and $4,000 or $5,000 to his father just to pay the bills. "They're good for it," he said of these loans. "I don't need the money right now anyway." One of Lawson's chores as a teenager was doing the family's grocery shopping, which he often paid for himself.[9]


Lawson and Tiffany Espensen in February 2021


On September 22, 2020, Lawson began a relationship with Tiffany Espensen.[10] On February 4, 2021, it was officially announced that he and Tiffany were in a relationship when she accompanied him and the rest of the Bates family to Colorado for a ski trip.[11] The two had been spotted together and shared identical instagram posts for several months prior to the announcement.


On Thursday, October 28, 2021, Lawson announced via People that he and Tiffany became engaged in Italy two days prior on October 26, 2021.[12][13]

Lawson and Tiffany on their wedding day


On Thursday, May 12, 2022, Lawson married Tiffany Espensen on a yacht in San Diego, California.[14] They were in the San Diego Harbor under the Coronado Bridge.[15]


Album art from Lawson's second album

Lawson currently works as a reserve deputy for the Anderson County Sheriffs Department.[16]

Music Career

Lawson began his musician career performing in gigs with his family. As an adult, he decided to strike out on his own for a solo career as a singer and instrumentalist. At eighteen years old, he began working with Andy Leftwich, an award-winning instrumentalist and producer, on his first solo album.

"With music it has been different," Lawson said of his solo career. "It's not me with the Bates family. It's make it or break it based off of my music strictly. That is a little scary especially when you're writing country music you share a lot of your heart."[17]

On October 30, 2013, Lawson released his first album, "Freedom Sure Ain't Free", which contains twelve tracks of country and gospel music. Two of the tracks were original songs.

On January 28, 2015, Lawson released a single "I Thought I Had Problems". This single included vocals by Rachel Leftwich. Lawson said this single was being released to raise awareness and support for global disaster relief.[18]

Lawson with Emily Ann Roberts

On February 4, 2016, Lawson released a single, "I Will Always". This single hit number 46 on iTunes country charts, and was number 1 on Amazon traditional country charts.

On November 10, 2016, Lawson released his second album, "What Country Means to Me", which contains twelve tracks of country music. Two of the tracks are duets with Emily Ann Roberts, who was a contestant on NBC's singing competition show The Voice. Eight of the tracks on this album are original songs.

On January 24, 2019, Lawson released a single "One + One". He co-wrote this song (along with Adam Wheeler) for his sister Tori, and performed it at Tori's wedding to Bobby Smith on December 16, 2017.[19]

On September 5, 2019, Lawson released his song "Like the Rain".

ON May 28, 2020, Lawson released his singles "Song For a Girl" and "If I ever Lost your Love". The Music video for "Song for A Girl" starred Heather Martin from the Bachelor.

On July 14, 2021, Lawson released the song "The Way I See You" which though about his girlfriend (now his wife) Tiffany Espensen, he revealed he wrote the song years ago. The music video starred Tiffany Espensen.

On February 24, 2022, Lawson released his third album, "American Dream", which contains 12 tracks of country music. and debuted at number 3 on the Country music charts. One of the tracks, "Crazy Love" features his wife, who was his fiancee at the time Tiffany Espensen. The music video was filmed as apart of their engagement. This album also contains his single "One + One" with Olivia Collingsworth.[20]

Lawson with a patient at East Tennessee Children's Hospital

Lawson has posted a number of music videos on his YouTube page. His most notable video is for his song "Past the Past", which features Sadie Robertson from the A&E show Duck Dynasty.

Lawson often performs at children's hospitals, wanting to help those in need. "It's something that I look forward to. I'll just kind of go room to room or sometimes I'll get a group. I've made so many friends over there."[21]

Lawson filming an interview on Brining Up Bates

Television Career

Lawson appeared on the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting many times as a teenager and young adult. In 2012, TLC aired one season of the show United Bates of America, which focused on Lawson's family. In 2015, UpTV began airing a similar show, Bringing Up Bates, which is currently in its sixth season. Lawson is regularly featured in both shows.

Mission Work

Lawson has gone on a number of mission trips as an adult.

In 2011, Lawson went on a 10 day mission trip in Guatemala, where they assisted in a house building project, distributed food baskets, and helping at an orphanage.[22]

Lawson passing out medicine in the Philippines in 2015

In 2014, he and his brother Nathan, along with friend John-David Duggar, went to the Philippines to assist with medical work with Blessing International.[23]

Lawson with volunteers in Puerto Rico

In 2015, Lawson returned to the Philippines, where he did more medical work in areas that had recently been affected by typhoons.

In 2017, Lawson went on a mission trip to Haiti.[24] It is unknown what he did there.

In October of 2017, Lawson went to Puerto Rico to help with relief after the island was hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.[25]

Previous Relationships

Courtship Rumors

Although Lawson is currently single, it has been rumored that he is courting a number of different young women over the years since he became an adult, including Jana Duggar[26] and Emily Ann Roberts.

Jinger Duggar

Fans noticed that Lawson and Jinger were standing close to each other in a group photo at Amy Duggar's wedding in 2015

The most notable rumor is that Lawson was interested in Jinger Duggar. Although this has been speculated for a long time[27], the speculation took off due to the timing of a number vague social media posts he posted when Jinger announced her courtship and then wedding to Jeremy Vuolo. On June 20, 2016, when Jinger announced she was courting Jeremy, Lawson posted two tweets: "Things aren't always as they seem"[28] and "[Time] always tells..."[29]. At 6:50am on November 5, 2016, the day of Jinger's wedding, Lawson tweeted, "If you saw me last night & I was a lil out of sorts, srry; It was quite a day."[30] At 5:07pm that day, presumably at the wedding reception, Lawson tweeted, "As long as you're comparing, you'll never be content."[31]

Jana Duggar

On January 10, 2019, Jana Duggar joined instagram. So far, she is the only single Duggar to have her own instagram account. Lawson commented on her first couple of posts, which generated a lot of speculation amongst followers that he and Jana were courting. On January 10, Jana's sister Jessa posted a photo of Jana with their niece Felicity Vuolo. A number of commenters asked if Jana was courting, and Jessa said that Jessa was not "in a relationship".[32] On January 17, Lawson posted a picture on his instagram of him holding a rose. The photo, which was part of a series of posts promoting a new single he was releasing, increased the speculation. One commenter said "Please tell me that rose is for Jana", and gossip increased when the official Bates family instagram account liked the comment. In response, Lawson spoke to InTouch Magazine, saying that his mom didn't know what she was doing when she liked the comment.[33] Despite these denials, speculation continues.

Wedding Involvement

Lawson was involved in the following weddings:

Domestic Terrorism

Lawson at the insurrection on January 6, 2021

On January 6, 2021, domestic terrorists attempted a coup on the United States government and participated in an insurrection on the US Capitol. Although Lawson claims it was a peaceful protest and he and his brother Trace had the right to be there, he denied ever going to the capitol itself. He and Trace were pictured as part of the crowd. After many people reached out to UPtv regarding the incident, the network insisted there was no evidence that Lawson and Trace participated in the violence that occured.[39]


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