Lawrence, Thomas (1711-1783) (DNB00)
LAWRENCE, THOMAS (1711–1783), physician, second son of Captain Thomas Lawrence, R.N., by Elizabeth, daughter of Gabriel Soulden of Kinsale, and widow of a Colonel Piers, was grandson of another Dr. Thomas Lawrence (d. 1714), who was nephew of Henry Lawrence (1600–1664) [q. v.] and was first physician to Queen Anne, and physician-general to the army (Gent. Mag. 1815, pt. ii. p. 17).
Lawrence was born in the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster, on 25 May 1711, and, accompanying his father when appointed to the Irish station about 1715, was for a time at school in Dublin. His mother died in 1724, and his father then quitted the navy and settled with his family at Southampton. The son finished his preliminary education at the grammar school in that place, and in October 1727 was entered as a commoner of Trinity College, Oxford. After graduating B.A. in 1730, and M.A. in 1733, he chose medicine for his profession, and removed to London, where he attended the anatomical lectures of Dr. Frank Nicholls [q. v.] and the practice of St. Thomas's Hospital. He graduated M.B. at Oxford, 1736, M.D. 1740, and succeeded Nicholls as anatomical reader in the university, but resided in London, where he also delivered anatomical lectures.
Lawrence was admitted a candidate of the London College of Physicians in 1743, and a fellow in 1744. After filling various college offices he was elected president in 1767, and was annually re-elected for seven consecutive years. After 1750, finding the popularity of his anatomical lectures diminished by the increasing celebrity of William Hunter [q. v.], he abandoned them, and devoted himself wholly to medical practice, in which, owing to occasional fits of deafness and to some personal peculiarities, he achieved less success than his abilities, learning, and character deserved. About 1773 his health began to fail, and he first perceived symptoms of 'angina pectoris,' which continued to distress him during the rest of his life. In 1782 he had an attack of paralysis, and in the same year removed from London to Canterbury, where he died on 6 June 1783. He was buried in St. Margaret's Church, and a tablet, with a Latin epitaph, was placed in the cathedral.
Lawrence is chiefly remembered as the friend of Dr. Johnson, who was one of his patients. He was introduced to Johnson by Dr. Richard Bathurst [q. v.] Johnson, who corresponded with him about his own ailments in Latin, said that he was 'one of the best men whom he had known' (19 March 1782). Mrs. Thrale gives a painful account of a visit which she and Johnson paid Lawrence when he had just partially recovered from a paralytic stroke.
On 25 May 1744 Lawrence was married in London to Frances, daughter of Dr. Chauncy, a physician at Derby, by whom he had six sons and three daughters. His wife died on 2 Jan. 1780, and on the 20th of the same month Johnson wrote him a letter of friendly and pious condolence. When one of his sons went to the East Indies Johnson wrote the elegant Latin alcaic ode, 'Ad Thomam Laurence, medicum doctissimum, cum filium peregre agentem desiderio nimis tristi prosequeretur.' Another of his sons was Sir Soulden Lawrence [q. v.]
Lawrence's works were all written in elegant Latin, which he regarded as the only fitting vehicle for medical treatises. They are: 1. 'Oratio Harvæana,' 4to, London, 1748. 2. 'Hydrops, disputatio medica,' 12mo, London, 1756, in the form of a dialogue between Harvey, Sir George Ent, and Dr. Hamey, grounded on the doctrines of Stahl. 3. 'Prælectiones medicæ duodecim de calvariæ et capitis morbis,' 8vo, London, 1757. An analysis of this work and also of the next is given by Haller in his 'Biblioth. Anatom.' ii. 537–8. 4. 'De Natura Musculorum prælectiones tres,' 8vo, London, 1759. 5. 'The Life of Harvey' prefixed to the college edition of his 'Opera Omnia,' 4to, London, 1766, for which Lawrence received 100l. 6. 'Life of Dr. Frank Nicholls, "cum conjecturis ejusdem de natura et usu partium humani corporis similarium,"', 4to, London, 1780, privately printed.
[Gent Mag. 1787, vol. lvii. pt. i. p. 191; reprinted, with a few additions by Brydges, Censura Literaria, 1805, i. 198; Chalmers's Gen. Biog. Diet. 1815, vol. xx.; Munk's Coll. of Phys. ii. 150; Sir John Hawkins's Life of Johnson, Index; Boswell's Life of Johnson, Index.]