Charles Lawrance

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Charles Lawrance
Born September 30, 1882
Lenox, Massachusetts
Died June 24, 1950(1950-06-24) (aged 67)
East Islip, New York
Nationality United States
Education Yale University
École des Beaux-Arts
Spouse(s) Emily Margaret Gordon Dix
Children 3
Parent(s) Francis C. Lawrance Jr.
Sarah Eggleston Lanier
Engineering career
Projects Lawrance J-1
Significant advance Air-cooled aircraft engine
Awards Elliott Cresson Medal (1928)

Charles Lanier Lawrance (September 30, 1882 – June 24, 1950) was an American aeronautical engineer and an early proponent of air-cooled aircraft engines.

Early life[edit]

Lawrance was born on September 30, 1882 in Lenox, Massachusetts, the son of Francis Cooper Lawrance Jr. (1858-1904) and his first wife, Sarah Eggleston Lanier (1862-1893).[1] Lawrance's maternal grandfather was Charles D. Lanier (1837-1926), who was a close friend of Pierpont Morgan.[2] His great-grandfather was James F. D. Lanier (1800-1881), who founded Winslow, Lanier & Co. Lawrance's sister, Kitty Lanier Lawrance (1893-1936), was raised by their grandfather, as their parents died when she was still young.[3] In 1915, Kitty married W. Averell Harriman (1891-1986), the Governor of New York. They later divorced in 1928.[4] His paternal grandfather was Francis Cooper Lawrance (1830-1911) of Paris and Pau, France.[3] After his mother's death in 1893, his father married Susan Ridgeway Willing. Willing's sister was Ava Lowle Willing, who married John Jacob Astor IV.[1] They had a daughter, a half-sister to Lawrance, Frances Alice Willing Lawrance, who married Prince Andrzej Poniatowski (1899–1977) of the House of Poniatowski in 1919.[5] In 1885, his paternal aunt, Frances Margaret Lawrance, married George Venables-Vernon (1854–1898), the 7th Baron Vernon.[6]

Lawrance attended and graduated from Yale University in 1905, where he was a member of Wolf's Head.[1] Shortly thereafter, he joined a new automobile firm that went bankrupt by the financial panic of 1907. He then went to Paris, where he studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts, experimenting with aeronautics at the Eiffel Laboratory.[7]


Lawrance returned to the United States in 1914 and in 1917, he founded the Lawrance Aero Engine Company in 1917.[8] He designed the Lawrance J-1 air-cooled aircraft engine, the direct ancestor of the extremely successful Wright Whirlwind series of engines. Long-distance flights of Admiral Byrd, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Clarence Chamberlin were all made possible by the Whirlwind series of engines, which could operate continuously for 33.5 hours. Despite sensational publicity that Lindbergh's flight attracted, Lawrance himself remained in relative obscurity. In discussion with Harry Bruno about his need for publicity to attract funds, he complained, "Who remembers Paul Revere’s horse?"[9]

In May 1923, Lawrance's company was purchased by Wright Aeronautical, as the United States Navy was concerned that Lawrance couldn't produce enough engines for its needs.[10] Lawrance was retained as a vice president. In 1925, after Wright's president, Frederick B. Rentschler, left the company to found Pratt & Whitney, Lawrance replaced him as company president.

Personal life[edit]

In 1910, he married Emily Margaret Gordon Dix, a daughter of Rev. Morgan Dix (1827–1908), the rector of Trinity Parish.[11] They lived at 153 East 63rd Street,[12] in the National Register of Historic Places listed Barbara Rutherford Hatch House,[13] and together, their children were:

Lawrance died on June 24, 1950.[7][21]


  1. ^ a b c d Kerstein, Bob. "Charles Lanier". Bank History, Central Trust Company of New York. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  2. ^ Vincent P. Carosso, Rose C. Carosso, "The Morgans" (Harvard University Press, 1987) p. 248
  3. ^ a b Staff (July 3, 1915). "MISS LAWRANCE TO WED W. A. HARRIMAN Romance in Match of Late Railroad Magnate's Son and C. Lanier's Granddaughter. FIANCEE A SPORTS DEVOTEE Just Recovered from Injury Received While Horseback Riding with the Young Financier.". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  4. ^ "Mrs. W. Averell Harriman Dies; Former Governor's Wife Was 67". New York Times. September 27, 1970. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  5. ^ Staff (December 5, 1919). "Frances Lawrance Asks 160,000-Franc Allowance to Wed Prince Poniatowski". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  6. ^ Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,[page needed]
  7. ^ a b The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Charles Lanier Lawrance American aeronautical engineer". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  8. ^ Gunston, p. 125
  9. ^ Harry Bruno (1944) Wings over America, page 159, Halcyon Press
  10. ^ Gunston, p. 125, 244
  11. ^ Staff (April 5, 1910). "MISS DIX TO BE A BRIDE. Daughter of Late Rector of Trinity to Wed Charles Lanier Lawrance.". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Staff (October 23, 1933). "TROTH ANNOUNCED OF MISS LAWRANCE New York Girl's Parents Make - Known Her Engagement to Drayton Cochran. MADE DEBUT 2 YEARS AGO Granddaughter of the Rev. Dr. Morgan Dix Fiancé a Graduate of Yale University.". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  13. ^ Alberts, Hana R. (November 13, 2013). "Spike Lee Wants $32M For UES Home With Celeb-Studded Past". Curbed NY. Curbed NY. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  14. ^ a b "FRELINGHUYSEN, EMILY LAWRANCE". The New York Times. December 26, 2004. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  15. ^ Bayot, Jennifer (January 13, 2005). "Joseph S. Frelinghuysen, Memoirist of Wartime Escape, Dies at 92". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-01. Joseph S. Frelinghuysen, whose memoir, "Passages to Freedom," chronicled his escape from a prison camp in Italy during World War II, died on Saturday in Morristown, N.J. He was 92 and lived in Far Hills, N.J. The cause was pneumonia, said his daughter Barbara F. Israel. 
  16. ^ "Joseph S. Frelinghuysen, 92, WWII POW, marathon runner". The Star-Ledger. January 11, 2005. 
  17. ^ a b "Deaths FROST, MARGARET". The New York Times. March 19, 2005. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  18. ^ Whitney, Jean. "Francis Cooper Lawrance". Find A Grave Memorial. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  19. ^ Staff (October 5, 1986). "Diane B. Sperandio Weds". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  20. ^ Staff (February 15, 1981). "Anne Dunn Bride Of F.C. Lawrance". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  21. ^ "C.L. LAWRANCE, 67, AN INVENTOR, DIES; Developed Wright Whirlwind Engine That Powered Noted Distance Plane Flights". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  • Gunston, Bill (2006). World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines, 5th Edition. Phoenix Mill, Gloucestershire, England, UK: Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-4479-X. 

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