LAWRENCE, Nathaniel (c.1627-1714), of Colchester, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. c.1627, s. of Thomas Lawrence, clothier, of Colchester. m. by 1661, Martha (d. 18 June 1677), da. of Richard Greene, linen-draper, of Colchester, at least 1s. 2da.1
?Ensign, Colchester militia by 1651, common councilman 1656-9, 1669-71, alderman 1671-Jan. 1688, 1693-?d., mayor 1672-3, 1679-80, 1683-4, 1709; commr. for assessment, Colchester 1679-80, 1690, Essex 1689-90, j.p. Essex 1680-Apr. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., lt. of militia horse 1680.2
Lawrence’s father, of yeoman stock, was a parliamentary sympathizer during the Civil War, serving as mayor in 1643-4 and actively supporting the Protectorate. Lawrence himself followed his father’s trade as a clothier, and as an ensign in the train-bands is alleged to have fought for the Commonwealth at the battle of Worcester. He was nominated to the corporation by the Protector in the charter of 1656. He regained office in 1669 and became an occasional conformist. It was said that he
never brought a common prayer book to church or made any response after the parson, or say [sic] amen to any of the prayers of the Church, for he seldom comes until the prayers are almost over.
He was accused of maintaining a family pew in one of the local conventicles, and declaring at elections of magistrates that dissenters were ‘as honest and good men as the Churchmen’. But he was not involved in exclusion politics, and during his third term as mayor complied with the Government’s demand for surrender of the charter. He was confirmed as alderman, and when the 2nd Duke of Albemarle (Christopher Monck) brought the new charter down in November 1684, the way was ‘spread with Colchester bays of Mr Lawrence’s for his grace and the company to walk on’.3
Lawrence was thus one of the few dissenters returned in 1685. But he was totally inactive in James II’s Parliament, being given leave of absence on 19 June. He gave evasive answers to the first two questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, declaring that; ‘If he be chosen a Member of Parliament, he will discharge his trust the people shall put in him; as to an election, he hopes he may have his liberty of voting’. He was among the first to be removed from the corporation in 1688, and apparently never sought re-election. He was not restored to municipal office until the new charter of 1693. He served again as mayor for about two months in 1709 on the death in office of the then holder. Lawrence died on 5 May 1714, aged 87, and was buried in St. James, Colchester, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: Gillian Hampson / Geoffrey Jaggar
- 1. Morant, Essex, Colchester, app. 22; Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. xiii. 268, 270; Essex Rev. vi. 172; PCC 119 Aston.
- 2. Essex Rev. v. 208; Colchester Castle, Colchester assembly bk. 2, ff. 33, 47; PC2/72/581; G. Rickword, Bailiffs and Mayors of Colchester, 17, 18.
- 3. Essex Rev. v. 208; Stowe 835, ff. 37v-44; Bdl. Rawl. mss, Essex I, ff. 113-17, 120-2, 126-8; CSP Dom. 1655, pp. 202-3, 354; 1655-6, p. 253; 1684-5, p. 216; VCH Essex, ii. 398.
- 4. PC2/72/581; Stowe 835, f. 65v; CSP Dom. 1693, pp. 186, 296, 344; Morant, app. 22.