Lawrence, John (1753-1839) (DNB00)

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LAWRENCE, JOHN (1753–1839), writer on horses, born at or near Colchester, 22 Jan., and baptised at St. Martin's, Colchester, 21 Feb. 1763, was the son of John (1707–1763) and Anne Lawrence (1722–1810). His father and grandfather were brewers. About the age of fifteen Lawrence wrote an essay 'in favour of kindness to animals.' probably when at a grammar school. Soon afterwards he is said to have invested in a stock farm the money left to him on the death of his father, and he paid a first visit to Smithfield in 1777. In 1787, while living at Bury St. Edmunds, apparently near his farm, he began to write for the press. His first publications were anonymous and political. 'The Patriot's Calendar.' 1794–5–6, contains the information usually to be found in English almanacs, together with a translation of the new French republican constitution and other facts interesting to admirers of the French revolution. 'Rights and Remedies' (1795), dedicated to Earl Stanhope 'by one of the new sect of the moralists, is a more ambitious defence of France and the rights of man. Lawrence's hand can be traced in the remarks on live stock (pt. ii. p. 179, &c.) In 1796, on the title-page of a little book on farriery, Lawrence described himself as late of Lambeth Marsh, Surrey. The preface is addressed from Bury St. Edmunds. In the same year appeared the first volume of the first edition of his 'Philosophical and Practical Treatise on Horses.' In 1799 he began to contribute to the 'Sporting Magazine.' In 1800 he published anonymously 'The New Farmer's Calendar,' of which an entire edition was exhausted in a few months ; it was followed by a treatise on land stewardship (1801). In both of these works he advocated the painless killing of beasts for food. He was now advertising for a position as landlord's agent. In 'A Treatise on Cattle' (1805) in which he strongly recommended ox labour, may be found, says Donaldson, 'a mass of varied information of the most useful kind' (Agricultural Biography, 1854, p. 81). About 1810 he appears to have been living near London; at one time he was a resident of Somers Town. In 1813 he wrote, under the pseudonym of Bonington Moubray, a treatise on breeding poultry, rabbits, cows, swine, bees, &c, 'long esteemed the best,' says Donaldson (op. cit. p. 105), who did not know the real author. 'British Field Sports' (1818), which he published under the name of W. H. Scott, contains 'a system of sporting ethics,' with a view to root out ' that horrible propensity in the human breast, a sense of sport and delight in witnessing the tortures of brute animals.' Two years later, in ' The Sportsman's Repository,' he again deals with 'zoo-ethiology, or that part of ethics or morality which defines and teaches the moral treatment of beasts.' About 1821 Richard Martin [q. v.] of Galway consulted him before he introduced into parliament the bill against cruelty to animals (1822).

Lawrence also worked for the booksellers, and at one time was editor and proprietor of a magazine. He was a contributor to the 'Gentleman's Magazine' and other periodicals, and made collections for a history of his own time. At the end of his life Lawrence took a small house at Peckham, near London. After a short illness he died 17 Jan. 1839, in his eighty-sixth year. He was buried at Norwood. There is an engraving of Lawrence at an advanced age by Holl after Wivell. About the age of thirty he married Ann Barton, by whom he had one son and five daughters, only the youngest of whom left children.

Although three editions of Lawrence's 'Treatise on Horses' were published, his name was almost entirely forgotten until the republication of some chapters by Mr. E. B. Nicholson in 'The Rights of an Animal,' 1879. Throughout a long life and in nearly every one of his numerous publications Lawrence taught the duty of humanity to animals, at times expostulating with cruel drovers and market-men, and always exerting himself to raise the tone of public opinion on the subject. He was a thorough sportsman, and considered well-regulated boxing-matches 'worthy the attention of a martial people.' and a cock-fight 'a legitimate object of curiosity,' although he regarded bull-baiting as 'a detestable business,' and bear-baiting 'an infamous and degrading practice.' His books show knowledge and shrewdness, but he had no idea of literary arrangement, and he was unable to restrain a too facile pen. In politics he was a strong liberal, and he departed somewhat from strict orthodoxy in religion. Personally he was a man of imposing presence and fond of music and conviviality. He 'was certainly an eccentric, but if the shell was husljy, the kernel was sound' (Sporting Magazine, May 1839, p. 63).

His works are : 1. 'The Patriot's Calendar' for 1794, 1795, 1796, London, 1793-4-5, 16mo (anonymous). 2. 'Rights and Remedies, or the Theory and Practice of true Politics, with a View of the Evils of the Present War and a Proposal of immediate Peace,' London, 1795, 2 parts, 8vo (anonymous). 3. 'The Sportsman, Farrier, and Shoeing Smith's New Guide, being the substance of the Works of the late Charles Vial de St. Bell,' London [1796], sm. 8vo. 4. 'A Philosophical and Practical Treatise on Horses and on the Moral Duties of Man towards the Brute Creation,' London, 1796-1798, 2 vols. 8vo ; 2nd edit., with additions, London, 1802, 2 vols. 8vo ; 3rd edit., with large additions, London [1810], 2 vols. 8vo. 5. 'The New Farmer's Calendar, a Monthly Remembrancer for all kinds of Country Business, comprehending all the Material Improvements in the New Husbandry with the Management of Live Stock, by a Farmer and Breeder.' London,1800, 8vo (anonymous) ; 2nd edit., with considerable additions, 1801. 'The Farmer's Pocket Calendar' is an abridgment of this work. 6. 'The Modern Land Steward, in which the Duties and Functions of Stewardship are considered and explained, with their several relations to the interests of the Landlord, Tenant, and the Public.' London, 1801, 8vo (anonymous). 7. 'A General Treatise on Cattle, the Ox, the Sheep, and the Swine, comprehending their Breeding, Management, Improvement, and Diseases.' London, 1806, 8vo. 8. 'The History and Delineation of the Horse in all his Varieties, with an Investigation of the Character of the Racehorse and the Business of the Turf, the engravings from original paintings, with instructions for the General Management of the Horse.' London, 1809, 4to (plates). 9. 'Practical Observations on the British Grasses, by William Curtis, 5th edit, with additions, London, 1812, 8vo, plates; 7th edit., 'with considerable additions, including hints for the general management of all descriptions of grass land.' 1834, 8vo, plates. 10. 'Practical Treatise on Breeding, Rearing, and Fattening all kinds of Domestic Poultry, Pheasants, Pigeons, and Rabbits, Swine, Bees, Cows, &c..' dv Bonington Moubray (i.e. J. Lawrence), London, 1813, sm. 8vo; 2nd ed. 1816; many subsequent editions, the 8th in 1842; a new edition by L. A. Meall, 1854, contains little trace of the original. 11. 'British Field Sports, embracing Practical Instructions in Shooting, Hunting, Coursing, Racing, Cocking, Fishing, &c, with Observations on the Breaking and Training of Dogs and Horses and the Management of Fowling-pieces, by W. H. Scott (i.e. J. Lawrence), London, 1818, 8vo (plates). 12. ' The Sportsman's Repository, comprising a series or engravings representing the Horse and the Dog by John Scott, with a description of the different species of each.' London, 1820, 4to (plates, anonymous). 13. 'A Memoir of the late Sir T. C. Bunbury.' Ipswich, 1821, 8vo. 14. 'The National Sports of Great Britain, by Henry Aiken, with descriptions in English and French.' London, 1821, fol. (coloured lithographs by Aiken, text by Lawrence, anonymous). 15. 'The Horse in all his Varieties and Uses; his Breeding, Rearing, and Management.' London, 1829, sm. 8vo.

[Obituary notice in Sporting Magazine, May 1839; E. B. Nicholson's Rights of an Animal, 1879, p. 72, &c. The notices in Biog. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816, and J. Donaldson's Agricultural Biography, 1854, are full of errors. The writer has to thank Mr. Nicholson for placing at his disposition the unpublished materials for an enlarged sketch of the life of Lawrence.]

H. R. T.