Lawrence, George St. Patrick (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

LAWRENCE, Sir GEORGE ST. PATRICK (1804–1884), general, third son of Lieutenant-colonel Alexander Lawrence (1764–1835), was elder brother of Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence [q. v.], K.C.B., and of John Laird Mair Lawrence, lord Lawrence [q. v.] His father, an Indian officer, led, with three other lieutenants, the forlorn hope at the storming of Seringapatam on 4 May 1799, and returned to England in 1809, after fifteen years' severe service. George was born at Trincomalee, Ceylon, 17 March 1804, and educated at Foyle College, Londonderry. In 1819 he entered Addiscombe College, on 5 May 1821 was appointed a cavalry cadet, on 15 Jan. 1822 joined the second regiment of light cavalry in Bengal, and on 5 Sept. 1825 was promoted to be adjutant of his regiment, a post which he held till September 1834. With his regiment he took part in the Afghan war of 1838, and was present at the storming of Ghuznee, 23 July 1839, and in the attempt to capture Dost Mahomed, the ameer of Afghanistan, in his flight in August through the Bamian pass. On returning to Cabul Lawrence became political assistant to Sir William Hay Macnaghten, the envoy of Afghanistan, and subsequently his military secretary, a post which he kept from September 1839 to the death of his chief. On the surrender of Dost Mahomed Khan, 3 Nov. 1840, he was placed in the charge of Lawrence until he was sent to Calcutta. In the revolution at Cabul, in November 1841, Lawrence had many narrow escapes of his life, and on the surrender of the troops he was one of the four officers delivered up on 11 Dec. as hostages for the performance of the stipulations. On 23 Dec., when Macnaghten and others were treacherously murdered by Akbar Khan, he was saved by the interposition of Mahomed Shah Khan. In the retreat from Cabul, 6 Jan. 1842, Lawrence had charge of the ladies and children, with whom he remained until 8 Jan., when he was again given up to Akbar Khan as a hostage. With the ladies and children he was imprisoned, and remained with them until their release on 17 Sept. He owed his safety during this period to the high opinion which Akbar Khan had of his character, and to his strict adherence to all the promises which he made to his captor. Ill-health obliged Lawrence to return to England in August 1843, and shortly after that date the East India Company awarded him 600l. in testimony of their sense of his services in Afghanistan. On his going back to India in October 1846 he was appointed an assistant political agent in the Punjaub, having charge over the important Peshawur district. In the autumn of 1847 Lawrence, with only two thousand troops, engaged and defeated on two occasions large numbers of the hill men of the tribes on the Swat border. On the breaking out of the second Sikh war in 1848, Lawrence's great personal influence at Peshawur for some time kept his regiments faithful, but at last they went over to the enemy, and on 25 Oct. 1848 he was a prisoner in the hands of Chutter Singh; but such was his character for probity, and the personal power that he had acquired over the Sikhs, that he was three times permitted to leave his captivity on parole. With his wife and children he was released after the peace conquered at Guzerat, 22 Feb. 1849, and received the thanks of both houses of parliament and of the governor-general for remaining at his post with such devotion. On 7 June 1849 he was promoted to be brevet lieutenant-colonel, and appointed deputy commissioner of Peshawur. In the capacity of political officer he, in the following November, accompanied the forces sent under General Bradshaw into the Eusofzye country, and was present at the capture of Pullee on the Swat border. Again in February 1850, in command of militia, he went with Sir Charles Napier to the forcing of the Kohat pass, and guided him through that defile. In July 1850 he became political agent in Méwar, one of the Rajputana states, where he remained till 13 March 1857, when he succeeded his brother Henry Lawrence as resident or chief agent for the governor-general in the Rajputana states, and in April took up his residence in Abu. On the breaking out of the great mutiny of 1857 he was named brigadier-general of all the forces in Rajputana, and on the death of Colonel Dixon, 12 June, had to take the chief military command. By his vigorous and decided action the arsenal of Ajmír was retained; a proclamation addressed on 23 May confirmed the native princes in their loyalty, and the Rajputana states were prevented from joining the revolt. Such outbreaks as did take place were successfully quelled, first by himself, and afterwards by Major-general Roberts.

Up to this date Lawrence had received no decoration beyond the medals for the Punjaub and Indian campaigns, but on 18 May 1860 he was created a civil companion of the Bath. On 25 May 1861 he was gazetted major-general, and in December 1864 resigned his post in Rajputana, and ended his Indian career after a service of forty-three years. Both Sir Charles Napier and Lord Dalhousie had expressed their high regard for his character and achievements. ‘He is a right good soldier,’ said the former, ‘and a right good fellow, and my opinion of him is high.’ On 11 Jan. 1865 he received a good-service pension of 100l. a year; and on 24 May 1866 was created a knight commander of the star of India. He also held the third class of the order of the ‘Dooranee Empire.’ He retired from the army on full pay on 29 Oct. 1866, and was advanced to be honorary lieutenant-general on 11 Jan. 1867. He took a warm interest in the ‘Officers'’ and ‘Soldiers' Daughters'’ homes, and was a member of the managing committees of both these charities. Lawrence died at 20 Kensington Park Gardens, London, 16 Nov. 1884. He wrote ‘Forty-three Years in India,’ a work which was edited by W. Edwards, and published in 1874.

On 3 April 1830 Lawrence married Charlotte Isabella, daughter of Benjamin Browne, M.D., of the Bengal medical board. She died on 12 May 1878, having had issue three sons and six daughters.

[Kaye's Hist. of the War in Afghanistan, ii. 181; Kaye and Malleson's Indian Mutiny, iii. 163–74; Edwardes and Merivale's Life of Sir Henry Lawrence, vol. i. especially cap. vi.; Broadfoot's Career of Major Broadfoot, pp. 60, 102; Thackwell's Second Sikh War, p. 249; Bosworth Smith's Life of Lord Lawrence; Golden Hours, 1869, pp. 314–29, with portrait, 397–409, 457–69, by C. R. Low; Times, 18 Nov. 1884, p. 5; Illustrated London News, 29 Nov. 1884, pp. 533, 542, with portrait.]

G. C. B.