LAWRENCE (LAURENCE), William (?1723-98), of Kirkby Fleetham, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1761 - 1768
30 Oct. 1775 - 1780
5 June 1781 - 2 Sept. 1798

Family and Education

b. ?1723, 2nd s. of Capt. Thomas Laurence, R.N., by Elizabeth, da. of Gabriel Soulden, merchant, of Kinsale, co. Cork, wid. of Col. Piers.1  m. 21 Nov. 1759, Anna Sophia, da. and coh. of William Aislabie, 1s. d.v.p. 1da. His wife’s e. sis. Elizabeth, m. 1765 Charles Allanson.

Offices Held


In 1761 Lawrence was returned for Ripon on his father-in-law’s interest. He is not included in Henry Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries, December 1762, nor in his list of those who voted against them, 9 and 10 Dec.; nor does he appear in any of Newcastle’s lists; the History of the Late Minority includes him on the second day. In the autumn of 1763 Jenkinson classed him as ‘doubtful’; he voted with Administration in the first division on general warrants, 6 Feb. 1764, but with Opposition in the two later divisions, 15, 18 Feb., and he was classed by Newcastle, 10 May 1764, as a ‘sure friend’. Rockingham, July 1765, classed him as ‘pro’, and November 1766 as ‘Whig’, and though he voted with Administration on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, Newcastle counted him as a ‘friend’. He voted with the Opposition on nullum tempus, 17 Feb. 1768.

In 1768 Charles Allanson was returned at Ripon and Lawrence did not stand again for Parliament till October 1775, when he was returned at the by-election caused by Allanson’s death. He voted with Opposition on America, 2 Feb. 1778; was listed as ‘pro, absent’ on the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779; voted with Opposition on Dunning’s motion, 6 Apr. 1780, but in Robinson’s survey of July 1780 was classed as ‘pro’.

In 1780, for reasons which have not been ascertained, Lawrence was not returned again by his father-in-law; but the following year Aislabie died; Lawrence obtained control of the borough, and was once more returned for Ripon. Henceforth he voted consistently with Opposition till the fall of North; against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783; but not on Fox’s East India bill. On 13 Feb. 1784 he wrote to Fitzwilliam regretting that he had been prevented by rheumatism from coming to London that session and added: ‘My political creed is most certainly to support the constitutional authority of the House of Commons ... I am sorry that the doctrines of James II should be brought forward again.’2 He voted against Pitt on Richmond’s fortifications plan, 27 Feb. 1786, and the Regency, 16 Dec. 1788. There is no record of his having spoken in the House before 1790.

He died 2 Sept. 1798, aged 75.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Whitaker, Hist. Richmondshire, ii. 67; Gent. Mag. 1787, pp. 191-193; 1815, ii. 17.
  • 2. Fitzwilliam mss, Northants. RO.