Henry Lawrence (President of the Council)

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For other persons named Henry Lawrence, see Henry Lawrence.

Henry Lawrence (1600–1664) was an English statesman who served as President of the English Council of State during the Protectorate.

Lawrence was brought up as a Puritan, and educated at Queens' College, Cambridge and then Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he became an MA in 1627.[1] He was a Huntingdonshire landowner who leased out grazing land to his distant relation Oliver Cromwell in the early 1630s. In the late 1630s Lawrence went to live in Holland where he felt freer to practice his form of Christianity, and remained there for most of the Civil War period. He published three religious books, "Of our Communion and Warre with Angels", and on the doctrine of baptism.

He entered Parliament in 1646 to fill a vacancy as Member for Westmorland. He was appointed a commissioner of Plantations in 1648 and commissioner for Ireland in 1652. In 1653 he was nominated a member of the Barebones Parliament, representing Hertfordshire.

When Oliver Cromwell was named Lord Protector, in December 1653, a new Council of State was appointed; Lawrence was its president until its dissolution in 1659. He also represented Carnarvonshire in the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate, and in 1658 was nominated to Cromwell's new House of Lords.

He played no further part in public life after the Restoration, and died in 1664. John Milton's sonnet "Lawrence! of virtuous father virtuous son" was addressed to his eldest son; his younger son John emigrated first to Barbados, then Jamaica where he founded a wealthy dynasty of plantation owners.


  1. ^ "Lawrence, Henry (LWRN621H)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  • D Brunton & D H Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
  • Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) [1]
  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography (1930)