The following was written by William Artman Lawrence for presentation at the first Lawrence Reunion in 1907:
The name Lawrence is derived from the Latin, Laurentius, and signifies a flourishing laurel.
The first person, yet ascertained, whose name bears marked similarity to ours, was Laurentius, also called St. Lawrence, chief Deacon to Sextus, Bishop of Rome. Saint Lawrence suffered martyrdom (Aug. 10, AD 258) because, when the enemies of the church demanded the treasures of the church, he bought the poor of the city and presented them as the treasures.
The first individual of this name who lived in England is supposed to have come of that St. Lawrence family. He was Lawrence, the Monk. He came from Italy with Austin, who was sent to Britain for the propagation of Christianity in the island. Upon the death of Austin, he succeeded him as archbishop of Canterbury. He is said to have been both learned and pious, and, at his death, was buried in the Abbey of St. Austin, AD 916.
Robert Lawrence of this Archbishop of Canterbury family, born about 1150, accompanied King Richard on his memorable expedition to Palestine and signalized himself by planting the banner of the cross on the battlements of that stronghold; for which he was knighted by his king and received a coat of arms; this described: "Argent a cross raguly gules." (Argent = white, symbolic of bupity. Raguled = indented obliquely. Gules = The tincture of red in a blazon without color, indicated by vertical parallel lines.) The motto: "He beareth ermine. A cross raguled gules by name of Lawrence of Lancachire."
These early records were sought out by Hon. Abbott Lawrence, when an officer in Italy, and later when he was Minister to England; and compiled and published by a clergyman, John Lawrence.
The family became eminent in England. In Faulkner's History of Chelsea it is stated: "The Lawrences were allied to all that were great and illustrious; cousins to the ambitious Dudley, Duke of Norfolk; to the Earl of Warwick; to Lord Guilford Dudley, who perished on the scaffold; to that short-lived royalty, Lady Jane
Grey; to the brilliant Lester, who set two queens at variance; and to Philip Sidney who refused a crown."
Sir Robert's grandson, James Lawrence carried an heiress, Matilda, daughter of John Washington, of the family ancestors of George Washington, from which comes -- so understood -- the name Lawrence in the U. S. Washington family; and Lawrence Washington, older and half brother of George, from whom he inherited the Mt. Vernon estate.
John Lawrence, 16th generation from Sir Robert Lawrence, came to New England in 1630 with Governor Winthrop and settled in Watertown, Mass. Other Lawrences came to this country from England, France and Ireland. We are unable to trace our lineage back farther than to Thomas Lawrence, father of Major David Lawrence, who was born in 1755, and who was probably, but not certainly, of the John Lawrence of Watertown line. David L. married Sarah Ellis. In 1799 they bought land of John Ellis in Onondaga, N. Y., and moved there from Dalton, Mass. Onondaga Co. records show that later David bought more land of Mr. Ellis, his brother-in-law. It does not appear that David was a Revolutionary soldier; but his service in the war of 1812 is beyond doubt, as that is a matter of historical record, and his grand-daughter Mary De Hart had the epaulets which he wore. In this connection, let me quote from Scott's School History of the United States: "Florida was, at that time (1814) in the possession of Spain, and regarded as neutral territory. Great Britain had done so much for the Spaniards in Europe during the great wars of Napoleon that she had no difficulty in entering Florida, and, from there, annoying the U. S. A British fleet arrived at Pensicola, took possession of the forts in August with consent of the Spaniards, and fitted out an expedition against Fort Bowyer at the entrance to Mobile Bay, commanded by Major Lawrence. On the 15th of September they attacked this and were repulsed with the loss of a vessel and a number of men." Major David had a brother, Jonathan, who lived in Springwater in the early 1800's; and who had sons, Ralph, Soloman and William. A sister, Speedy married Amos Spafford Dec. 1, 1791. Their son, Andrew Spaffard built the pond and saw-mill near my home, and was one of the early Supervisors of Springwater. (1836-9 and 1944-5).
Major David and Sarah Ellis Lawrence raised a family of eight as follows: Elijah, Thomas, Henry, birth dates unknown. John Ellis L., progenitor of us gathered here was born in the town of Onondaga, Onondaga County, April 13, 1799; married in 1818 to Maria Thiel, who was born at Newburg on the Hudson, May 19, 1800. The other four were Alfred, Ashley (b Oct. 28, 1806; d Aug. 31, 1866), George W. (b 1813; d New Troy, Mich. Jan. 9, 1901) and Sarah, born about 1805.
Major David did not live long after the war. He died at Onondaga in 1815. Sarah preceded him by two years. They were buried on the farm In the South Onondaga cemetery there is a stone which bears this inscription: "Major David Lawrence, died Nov. 15, 1815 Sarah, his wife died June, 1813; Their bodies were removed from the farm 1870 by their son Thomas Lawrence who has erected this stone to their memory."
Let us now turn to some of the important events in the lives of John E. and Maria. We do not know just when the left the parental domicile in Onondaga and came to Springwater. Their first home in this town was in the northwestern part, on what was later known as the Moot farm. Next, they bought the farm afterward owned by the late Gordon Clemons in Sparts. About 1840 that was sold and the farm now or formerly owned by Charles and Carrie Hudson was purchased. From there the family moved to East Hill.
The names of their children with their birth dates follow; James, Mar. 30, 1820; Loren, Oct. 30, 1822, Irs, Aug. 11, 1824; Charles, June 10 1826; Elijah, June 12, 1828; David, Mar. 11, 1830; Clarryssa, June 5, 1832; George, Apr. 13, 1834; Eliza, July 7, 1836; Mary, Oct. 13, 1840; Henry, May 11, 1843. All now deceased and nearly all of their offspring.
This is a fine inheritance to be well born; and thus obligated to preserve the inheritance, unsullied, for future generations. We do not know how many, if any, jail-birds or other disreputables have borne our name, and we do not care to know. We wish rather to emulate the good, the true, the worthy. I will close with this thought from that great philanthropist, Amos Lawrence, who said when asked for advise; "Young man, base all your action on the principle of right, preserve your integrity of character, and in doing this, never reckon the cost.
W. A. LAWRENCE