George St Patrick Lawrence

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Sir George St Patrick Lawrence
Lawrence, Sir George St Patrick (1804-1884), by A. Murano.jpg
Born (1804-03-17)17 March 1804
Trincomalee, Ceylon
Died 16 November 1884(1884-11-16) (aged 80)
Kensington Gardens, London, England
Allegiance Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Flag of the British East India Company (1707).svg East India Company
Service/branch Bengal Army
Years of service 1821–1866
Rank General
Unit Second Bengal Light Cavalry
Battles/wars First Anglo-Afghan War
First Anglo-Sikh War
Second Anglo-Sikh War
Indian Mutiny
Awards Ghuznee Medal BAR.svg Order of the Dooranee Empire
Jellalabad and others BAR.svg Candahar, Ghuznee, Cabul Medal
Sutlej Medal BAR.svg Sutlej Medal
Punjab Medal BAR.svg Punjab Medal
Indian1854GSM.png India General Service Medal
IndMutinyRibbon.png Indian Mutiny Medal
Relations Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence
John Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence
Other work Colonial administrator

General Sir George St Patrick Lawrence KCSI CB (17 March 1804 – 16 November 1884) was an officer in the British Indian Army.

Early life[edit]

Lawrence, third son of Lt.-Col. Alexander Lawrence (1764–1835), was elder brother of Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence and John Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence. His father, an Indian officer, led, with three other lieutenants, the storming of Seringapatam on 4 May 1799, and returned to England in 1809, after fifteen years' severe service.

George was born at Trincomalee, Ceylon, on 17 March 1804, and was educated at Foyle College, Derry. His middle name, St Patrick, derived from his birth on St Patrick's Day. In 1819 he entered Addiscombe Military Seminary, on 5 May 1821 was appointed a cavalry cadet, on 15 January 1822 joined the Second Bengal Light Cavalry in Bengal, and on 5 September 1825 was promoted to be adjutant of his regiment, a post he held until September 1834. With his regiment he took part in the Afghan War of 1838, and was present at the storming of Ghuznee (modern Ghazni) on 23 July 1839, and in the attempt to capture Dost Mahomed in his flight in August through the Bamian pass.


On returning to Kabul, Lawrence became political assistant to Sir William Hay Macnaghten, the envoy of Afghanistan, and subsequently his military secretary, a post which he kept from September 1839 to the death of his chief. On the surrender of Dost Mahomed Khan, 3 November 1840, he was placed in the charge of Lawrence until he was sent to Calcutta. In the revolution at Cabul, in November 1841, Lawrence had many narrow escapes of his life, and on the surrender of the troops he was one of the four officers delivered up on 11 December 1841 as hostages for the performance of the stipulations. On 23 December, when Macnaghten and others were treacherously murdered by Akbar Khan, he was saved by the interposition of Mahomed Shah Khan.

In the retreat from Kabul, 6 January 1842, Lawrence had charge of the ladies and children, with whom he remained until 8 January, when he was again given up to Akbar Khan as a hostage. With the ladies and children he was imprisoned, and remained with them until their release on 17 September 1842. He owed his safety during this period to the high opinion which Akbar Khan had of his character, and to his strict adherence to all the promises which he made to his captor. Ill-health obliged Lawrence to return to England in August 1843, and shortly after that date the East India Company awarded him £600 in testimony of their sense of his services in Afghanistan.

Return to India[edit]

Captain George Lawrence, 11th Light Cavalry, attached to the Political Service, 1842.

On his going back to India in October 1846, he was appointed an assistant political agent in the Punjab, having charge over the important Rajputana district. In the autumn of 1847, with only two thousand troops, Lawrence engaged and defeated on two occasions large numbers of the hill men of the tribes on the Swat border. On the breaking out of the second Sikh War in 1848, Lawrence's great personal influence at Peshawar for some time kept his regiments faithful, but at last they went over to the enemy, and, on 25 October 1848 he was a prisoner in the hands of Chuttur Singh, but was three times permitted to leave his captivity on parole.

With his wife and children he was released on 22 February 1849, in the peace following the Battle of Gujrat, and received the thanks of both houses of parliament and of the governor-general for remaining at his post with such devotion. On 7 June 1849 he was promoted to be brevet lieutenant-colonel, and appointed deputy commissioner of Peshawar. The following November, in the capacity of political officer, he accompanied the forces sent under General Bradshaw into the Yusufzai country, and was present at the capture of Pullee on the Swat border.

Again in February 1850, in command of militia, he went with Sir Charles Napier to the forcing of the Kohat pass, and guided him through that defile. In July 1850 he became political agent in Méwar, one of the Rajputana states, where he remained until 13 March 1857, when he succeeded his brother Henry Lawrence as resident or chief agent for the governor-general in the Rajputana states, and in April took up his residence in Abu. On the breaking out of the Indian rebellion of 1857 he was named brigadier-general of all the forces in Rajputana, and on the death of Colonel Dixon on 12 June 1857, he took chief military command. By his vigorous and decided action the arsenal of Ajmer was retained; a proclamation confirmed the native princes in their loyalty, and the Rajputana states were prevented from joining the revolt. Such outbreaks as did take place were successfully quelled, first by himself, and afterwards by Major-General Roberts.

Retirement and later life[edit]

Up to this date Lawrence had received no decoration beyond the medals for the Punjab and Indian campaigns, but on 18 May 1860 he was created a Companion of the Bath (CB). On 25 May 1861 he was gazetted major-general, and in December 1864 resigned his post in Rajputana thereby ending his Indian career after forty-three years service. Both Sir Charles Napier and Lord Dalhousie had expressed their high regard for his character and achievements. "He is a right good soldier," said the former, "and a right good fellow, and my opinion of him is high."

On 11 January 1865 he received a good-service pension of £100 a year; and on 24 May 1866 was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India. He also held the third class of the order of the Dooranee Empire. He retired from the army on full pay on 29 October 1866, and was advanced to honorary lieutenant-general on 11 January 1867.

He died at 20 Kensington Park Gardens, London, on 16 November 1884, aged 80.

Personal life[edit]

Lawrence married Charlotte Isabella, daughter of Dr. Benjamin Browne (M.D. of the Bengal Medical Board), on 3 April 1830. She died on 12 May 1878, having borne him three sons and six daughters.


Lawrence wrote a memoir, Forty-three Years in India, which was published in 1874, a decade before his death.