Lawrence Family

abbottlawThis collection is composed of 13 letters. Four letters are addressed to Abbot Lawrence: one from his sister Anne, one from John Waddington, and one from His aunt Mary Woodbury.  There is one letter from Amos Adams Lawrence to Abbot Lawrence, Jr., Abbott’s son.  Katherine Lawrence is the recipient of five letters; one of them is from George Ticknor, the other are from an unidentified friend wintering in Havana, Cuba in 1860.  There is some information in these Cuban letters about Cuba and Secessionists that the writer met there.  The final two letters are written by Abbot Lawrence, one is to his sister Annie and the other is to Joseph Blunt.  The collection also includes a signature of Abbott Lawrence clipped from a manuscript and copper plates for name cards from both Abbott and his wife.



 Abbott Lawrence (Dec. 16, 1792 – Aug. 18, 1855)

 Abbott Lawrence was a merchant, manufacturer, diplomat, statesman and philanthropist. He was one of seven children, the fifth son of Samuel and Suzanna Parker Lawrence. He was born and brought up in Groton, Massachusetts. His father was a Minuteman who fought at Bunker Hill and lived to take part in the celebration 50 years later.

In 1808, Abbott was sent to apprentice with his brother, Amos, as a merchant. In 1814, when he became of age, he was admitted to the partnership and the firm of A & A Lawrence was founded. This business was considered to be a tower of strength among the businessmen of Boston. In 1831 Abbott became the principal member of the firm and continued until his death.

 Abbott was considered Boston’s leading merchant during the time when of 1812, Abbott Lawrence hastened to England to purchase a large stock of goods. He was able to get these products to Boston before his competition and sell them at a hefty profit. As time progressed, the business became interested in selling products of the new cotton and woolen mills, which were springing up in New England. In 1830, they began associating themselves with the Lowells, Appletons, Jacksons and other rising manufacturers. They became active in the development of New England industry. In 1845, Abbott Lawrence took the lead in the foundation of the Town of Lawrence, which bears the family name. This textile city became the rival of Lowell, founded a quarter of a century earlier.  Massachusetts enterprise and capital were turning inland from the sea and manufacturing was supplanting trade and navigation. This reputation can be attributed to Abbott’s quick decision-making and promptness in action. He was also known for his buoyant disposition and great physical energy.

The business of A & A Lawrence specialized in importing English dry goods. When peace was restored after the War in 1835, Abbott Lawrence became the leader in advocating the extension of the Boston-Worcester road over the Berkshires to Albany, and the success of the Western Railroad. He was one of the first appreciate the importance of steam railroads and promote their construction.

 In 1845, he was active in promoting the construction of municipal water works despite the opposition of those interested in the private exploitation of the supply of water. After heavy competition, the advocates of municipal ownership prevailed, to the great gain of the city.

 Abbott Lawrence’s business efficiency, aptitude for political affairs, and public spirit made him a favorite among Boston merchants and manufacturers. The Lawrences were slow to give up their belief in the wisdom of a policy of freedom of trade. After adoption of the Protective Tariff Act of 1824, it became apparent that it was useless to oppose what appeared to be a favorite policy with the rest of the country.

In 1827, Abbott Lawrence was one of a seven man delegation sent to the famous Harrisburg Convention to discuss measures for promoting the interests of domestic manufacturers, and in 1834 and 1838, he accepted election to the Congress as the representative of Boston. In Congress he was an active and influential member of the Ways and Means Committee. He was an ardent Whig and attended the 1844 National Convention as a delegate and was a leading candidate for the Vice Presidential nomination in 1848. He was offered two cabinet posts –Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of the Interior—but declined both. He later became Minister to Great Britain for three years. In 1852, he resigned to give more attention to his private business.

Abbott Lawrence was a man of firm religious beliefs, much like his mother and brothers. He became very interested in the works of education and charity. He was active in the religious movement that produced New England Unitarianism. He was a generous benefactor to the Groton Academy, where he received his early education. As he grew older, he became deeply interested in promoting science education, especially at Harvard College. He supported the work of Louis Aggassiz and founded chairs at Harvard for the teaching of natural science. In 1847, he gave fifty thousand dollars to the establishment of a School of Science. The school was called the Lawrence Scientific School. Lawrence was also an advocate for the improvement of the living conditions of the laboring population and left fifty thousand dollars for the construction of model lodging houses for wage earners in Boston. In addition to being a philanthropist, Lawrence was also a successful family man. His wife, whom he married on June 28, 1819, was Katherine Bigelow, the eldest daughter of Timothy Bigelow of Medford, Massachusetts. Mr. Bigelow was a distinguished lawyer, who served for many years as Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Abbott Lawrence had seven children – five sons and two daughters, of whom all but two sons survived their father.

Taken from “The History of Lawrence Curriculum Project K-8, A cooperative venture between the City of Lawrence School Department and the Department of Environmental Management with the permission of Lawrence Heritage State Park.

 Katherine Bigelow Lawrence (May 20, 1793-Aug. 21, 1860)

Katherine Bigelow was born May 20, 1793 in Groton Massachusetts.  She was the eldest child of Timothy Bigelow and Lucy Prescott Bigelow.  Her father was a distinguished attorney who served for many years as the Speaker of the House of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.  The family left Groton and moved to Medford, Massachusetts.  Katherine married Abbot Lawrence June 28, 1819.  Their union produced five sons and two daughters.  Mrs. Lawrence died August 21, 1860 and was buried in the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge with her husband.

George Ticknor  (Aug. 1, 1791-Jan. 26, 1871)

George Ticknor was born August 1, 1791 to Elisha and Elizabeth (Billings) Ticknor.  Both parents had been teachers at various times in their lives.  He entered Dartmouth College as a junior at the age of 14.  He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1813, but found that he was not drawn to law.  He continued to pursue his love of Latin and Greek in Europe.  He became the Smith Professor of French and Spanish at Harvard College in 1819.  He would hold this position until 1835.  He married Anna Eliot in 1821.  He was one of the founders of the Boston Public Library and was on many charitable and corporate boards.  He wrote many books but is remembered most for the History of Spanish Literature (1854).  He died January 26, 1871 at the age of 80.

 Amos Adams Lawrence (July 31, 1814-Aug. 22, 1886)

Amos Adams Lawrence was the second son of Amos and Sarah (Richards) and Abbott’s nephew.  He was educated at the Franklin Academy in North Andover, Massachusetts and Harvard College.  He formed the firm Mason & Lawrence with Robert M. Mason in 1843 and continued as principal for forty years.  Mason & Lawrence was the selling agency for Pacific Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  At that time Pacific Mills was the largest plant of its kind in the United States.  Amos was a trustee of Massachusetts General Hospital and established Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Among his many charities was the New England Immigrant Aid Company, a group founded to exclude slavery from Kansas Territory and colonize the territory with freemen.  He married Sarah Elizabeth Appleton in 1842.

2 Responses

  1. So helpful to researching my family tree…I have dates and names, but your website gave me information and insight into the individuals. Thank you!

    Cheryl Lawrence
    Researching Amos Lawrence lineage

  2. […] Despite some obvious differences in appearance and geography, Lawrence, MA and Lawrence, KS share the same founding family.  Abbott Lawrence, whose Essex Company built the Great Stone Dam, got his name on the welcome sign […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: