Lawrence was born on 30 December 1831, the son of Sir William Lawrence and Louisa Senior, the daughter of a successful Mayfair haberdasher who had bought a country estate, Broughton House, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. He was educated at Winchester College and at St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he took the diploma of MRCS in 1853. He then worked for nearly ten years for the Indian Medical Service. Having inherited his mother’s particular love for orchids, he reinforced this when he was in India. He made his first collection when living at Dharamsala in the Himalayan foothills.
On 5 July 1867, Lawrence succeeded to his father's recently created baronetcy (see Lawrence Baronets). In 1869 he married Elizabeth Matthew, daughter of John Matthew, a partner in the leading firm of marine engineers, John Penn and Son of Greenwich. She inherited Burford Lodge, near Dorking, where they created a celebrated garden. The estate then included the Burford Bridge Hotel. They had three sons and one daughter:
- William Matthew Trevor Lawrence (17 September 1870 – 4 January 1934); married Iris Eyre Crabbe (1908) and had issue.
- Aubrey Trevor Lawrence (15 January 1879 – 23 March 1930); married Constance Emily Fanning McGaw (1901) and had issue.
- Charles Trevor Lawrence (18 September 1881 – 10 April 1953); married Adeliza Donnelly (1916).
- Bessie Mary Lawrence (11 November 1877 - 12 March 1944); married Henry Rottenburg (1911) and had issue.
In 1874 he unsuccessfully contested Gloucester as a Conservative, but in 1875 was elected for Mid-Surrey, which included a large portion of south London. He sat for that constituency for ten years until its abolition in the redistributon of seats in 1885, when he was elected for Reigate Division in Surrey, a seat he held for seven years. He did not seek re-election at the 1892 general elections. He confined himself in parliament largely to questions and speeches on constituency matters (such as the abolition of tolls on bridges over the River Thames) and matters of public health (he was a strong supporter of vaccination).
Lawrence's chief interest, however, was horticulture, an interest he had inherited from his mother, herself a horticulturalist of note. From 1885 to 1913 he was President of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) which increased greatly in numbers and means during this term. He was determined that it should be restored “to horticulture pure and simple,” rather than entertaining the public. He was chiefly responsible for moving the Society from its expensive Kensington site to a more practical home in Westminster in 1904. The society presented him with the Victoria Medal in 1900, a portrait painted by Sir Hubert Herkomer in 1906, and the Veitch Gold Memorial Medal 1913; it also founded the Lawrence Gold Medal in his honour.
He was one of the world's leading orchid collectors and asked his wife to give plants of botanical interest to Kew after his death: 580 were thought to qualify. He presided at the RHS conference on hybridisation in 1899, which is now officially regarded as the first international conference on genetics.
In 1905,Professor M. Foster named a hybrid Aril Iris after him, a cross between Iris iberica X Iris pallida. Also Clematis texensis 'Sir Trevor Lawrence', Tulipa 'Sir Trevor Lawrence' and Begonia were also named after him. A genus of orchids, Trevoria, bears his name as well.
In 1892 he succeeded Sir Sydney Waterlow as treasurer of St Bartholomew's Hospital and held that office for twelve years. In that time he founded the Lawrence Scholarship in memory of his father and was a member of the Council of King Edward's Hospital Fund. On 9 November 1902 he was created KCVO and was also a Knight of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. He was a well-known collector of objets d'art, particularly oriental, especially Japanese, art, western porcelain, and old lace. Some of his collector's items are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum and other museums.
- "Arilbred Iris (Iris 'Sir Trevor Lawrence') in the Irises Database". garden.org. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
- "Searching the NGA's Plant Database". garden.org. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
- Boyle, Frederick. About Orchids: A Chat. 1893.
- Elliott, Brent. History of the Royal Horticultural Society 1804-2004. London: Phillimore, 2004
- Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,[page needed]
- Leigh Rayment's list of baronets
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs
- Burkes Peerage and Baronetage (2003), s.v. Lawrence, Baronets, of Ealing Park
- "SIR TREVOR LAWRENCE, Bart., K.C.V.O., M.R.C.S". British Medical Journal. 1 (2767): 121–122. 1914. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.2767.121. PMC 2300350.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Sir Trevor Lawrence
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Henry Peek, Bt.
| Member of Parliament for Mid Surrey
With: Sir Henry Peek, Bt. to 1874
Sir John Ellis, Bt. from 1874
|New constituency|| Member of Parliament for Reigate
|Baronetage of the United Kingdom|
(of Ealing Park)
William Matthew Trevor Lawrence