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The History of Grateley

Part seven: Victorian Period 1837-1901 (2 of 4) 

Baron Lawrence of the Punjab and Grateley
It was during the great Victorian period that the baronetcy of Lawrence of the Punjab and Grateley was created in1869. The Lawrence Houses estate in the village was named after his family many years later.

The first Baron Lawrence was John Laird Mair (sometimes Nair) Lawrence (1811 - 1879) born of Letitia (nee Knox), wife of Col. Alexander William Lawrence, in Grateley. He married Harriette Hamilton on 26th August 1841. Harriette was born in Culdaff, Donegal, Ireland about 1820.

John was one of five brothers serving in India for the East India Company (EICo) although it was only John, Henry and George who were to reach some prominence. They were brought up in Ireland even though they were Ulstermen only on their mother's side and were schooled at Foyle College, Londonderry. John was educated at Haileybury College (much against his will) and entered the EICo as a writer to become a civil rather than military officer whereas his brothers were educated at Addiscombe and thence, after cadetship, into the Bengal Lancers, George as a cavalry officer and Henry as a gunner. (C Allen: Soldier Sahibs) Addiscombe and Haileybury being the EICo colleges for military and civil cadetships, respectively.

Sir John and his brother, Sir Henry, ruled the Punjab with absolute power and were responsible for sending the Koh-I-noor diamond to Queen Victoria (Churchill: History of the English Speaking Peoples, Vol.: iv). The Koh-I-noor diamond at a weight of 106 carats is now part of the Crown jewels but is thought to have been part of the Great Mogul of 204 carats. They imposed a threefold oath on Punjabi landowners; "Thou shalt not burn thy widow, thou shalt not kill thy daughters, thou shalt not bury alive thy lepers". This was all part of the attempts to eradicate Sutee, and female infanticide among other ‘customs' of the time in India (ibid).

Poor Henry, having moved to Oude, was killed on 4th July early in the 172-day siege of the Residency at Lucknow in 1857. He had the misfortune to be mortally wounded by a cannon ball whilst in bed. He lies in the grounds of the Residency at Lucknow with the epitaph, composed by him, inscribed on his tombstone: ‘Here lies Henry Lawrence who tried to do his duty'.

George resigned his post as Agent to the Governor general in Rajputana on the grounds of ill health in 1864 and was created Knight Commander of the Star of India outliving John by 5years. (C Allen; Soldier Sahibs, 2000).

Sir John became the first Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab in January 1859 when India became part of the Empire instead of the property of the EICo. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the end of 1863 in succession to Lord Elgin. His tenure was marked by his policy of non-interference in neighbouring Afghanistan, which became known as ‘Masterly Inactivity': a policy that he had applied since the Russian Afghanistan threat in 1855 and was very effective for reasons that we will not go into here.

He retired from India in 1869 to a small estate on ‘Salisbury Plain' left to him by his sister CL Hayes. At the same time he was created Baron, for maintaining peace in the Punjab during the rebellion of 1857 and services to the Empire. (C Allen: Soldier Sahibs). Was The Grange part of this estate? Mrs Hayes was the widow of Rev H Hayes of Grateley and was a major landowner in the Parish. I do not think that the Rev Hayes was Rector of the Parish of Grateley, as this seems to clash with Rev. Dodson's living. See Commutation of Tithes to Rental and Hampshire Gazetteer 1859. Any award that he may have received for services to Queen and Country, other than the Baronetcy is unknown to me.

He died in 1879 and lies in Westminster Abbey. His portraits and busts are held in the National Portrait Gallery if one wishes to see what he looked like. A bit dour looking from what I have seen.

It is believed that a descendant of the first Lord Lawrence lived at one time in the Grange. The Grange was sold in 1912 and Baron Lawrence 2nd or 3rd, I do not know) died in 1947; somewhere other than Grateley as the Parish Council Minutes of that year record that a telegram of condolence was sent to his widow, the Baroness, which would have been unnecessary had she lived in the village.

Sir John and Harriette had 10 children, all christened in Grateley, between 1846 and 1864, which was the period when he was most involved in the affairs of the Punjab and India as a whole.

John Hamilton (sometimes B) Lawrence, son of the 1st Lord Lawrence, married Mary Catherine Douglas Campbell on 22nd August 1872. A child of this union, John Douglas Campbell Lawrence is buried in Grateley Churchyard dated 28th March 1875 having been born 2nd May 1874.

As yet I am unable to establish how Campbell Close received its name other than by the residents voting for it through the Parish Council in 1970, from a choice of three possibilities (Woodward- Apollo- and Campbell Close) but would like to think that the choice was based on the maiden name of John's wife.

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