William Beach Lawrence

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William Beach Lawrence
William Lawrence by J Cochran c 1820.jpg
Lawrence ca. 1820
Lieutenant Governor
of Rhode Island
In office
Governor Philip Allen
Preceded by Thomas Whipple
Succeeded by Samuel G. Arnold
Personal details
Born William Beach Lawrence
(1821-04-12)April 12, 1821
New York City, New York
Died February 14, 1880(1880-02-14) (aged 58)
New York City, New York
Spouse(s) Esther Rogers Gracie
(m. 1821; her death 1857)
Parents Isaac Lawrence
Cornelia Ann Beach
Alma mater Columbia College
Litchfield Law School

William Beach Lawrence (23 October 1800 – 26 March 1881) was an American politician and jurist who served as lieutenant governor of Rhode Island from 1851 to 1852 under Governor Philip Allen.

Early life[edit]

Lawrence was born in New York City to Isaac Lawrence (1768–1841) and Cornelia Ann Beach (1777–1857).[1] His family was wealthy and had immigrated from England. He graduated from Columbia in 1818 and was admitted to the bar in 1823, after studying at Litchfield Law School.[2]


In 1826, he was appointed Secretary of Legation for Great Britain, and was made chargé d'affaires the year after. When he returned to the United States in 1829 he practiced law with Hamilton Fish, and worked on the executive committee to promote the building of the Erie Railroad.

In 1850, Lawrence moved to Rhode Island and was elected as lieutenant-governor of that state the next year. He then became acting governor in 1852, and served in Rhode Island's constitutional convention as well. After his time in politics, he wrote essays and books about international law, and he argued a case before the United States Supreme Court in 1873.[3] He became vice-president of the New York Historical Society in 1836.[4]

Personal life[edit]

In 1821, he married Esther Rogers Gracie (1801–1857), daughter of Archibald Gracie (1755–1829). Together, they had several children, including:[1]

  • William Lawrence (d. 1870), a lawyer[5]
  • Isaac Lawrence (1828–1919), a democratic candidate for Governor of Rhode Island in 1878[5]
  • Esther Gracie Lawrence, who first married Dr. W. L. Wheeler. She later married married Count Felix von Voss-Giewitz of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.[6] He was previously married to Elise Gräfin Szapáry c. Szapár[7]
  • Albert Gallatin Lawrence (1836–1887),[8] a Brigadier-General and Minister to Costa Rica,[1] and who married Eveline McLean "Eva" Taylor (1845–1917), youngest daughter of Gen. Joseph Pannell Taylor and niece of President Taylor.[5]
  • Cornelia Beach Lawrence, who married Baron von Klenck, of Hanover, a decorated hero of the Franco-Prussian war.[1]
  • James G. K. Lawrence (b. 1845), who married Catherine Augusta Le Roy.[5][9]

Lawrence died in March 1881 in New York City while seeking medical treatment.[1]


  • The Bank of the United States (1831)
  • Institutions of the United States (1832)
  • Discourses on Political Economy (1834)
  • Biographical Memoir of Albert Gallatin (1843)
  • The Law of Charitable Uses (1845)
  • an annotated edition of Wheaton's Elements of International Law (1855)
  • Visitation and Search (1858)
  • Commentaire sur les éléments du droit international (four volumes, 1868–80)
  • The Treaty of Washington (1871)
  • Belligerent and Sovereign Rights as Regards Neutrals During the War of Secession (1873)
  • Etudes sur la jurisdiction consulaire et sur l'extradition (1880)


  1. ^ a b c d e "Litchfield Ledger - Student". www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org. Litchfield Historical Society. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  2. ^ The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. "William Beach Lawrence facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about William Beach Lawrence". www.encyclopedia.com. The Columbia University Press. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  3. ^ Lawrence, William Beach (1868). "William Beach Lawrence vs. R. H. Dana, Jr. Et Als" (PDF). loc.gov. Boston: Circuit Court of the United States | District of Massachusetts. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "William Beach Lawrence (1800-1881)". www.nyhistory.org. New-York Historical Society. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d Greene, Richard Henry; Stiles, Henry Reed; Dwight, Melatiah Everett; Morrison, George Austin; Mott, Hopper Striker; Totten, John Reynolds; Pitman, Harold Minot; Ditmas, Charles Andrew; Forest, Louis Effingham De; Maynard, Arthur S.; Mann, Conklin (1882). The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  6. ^ Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, Volume 57. F. W. Dodge Corporation. March 7, 1896. p. 399. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  7. ^ Degener, Hermann August Ludwig; Habel, Walter (1906). Deutsche Who's who (in German). Arani. p. 1245. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  8. ^ "Albert Gallatin Lawrence - People - Department History - Office of the Historian". history.state.gov. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  9. ^ Social Register, New York. New York: Social Register Association. 1901. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Whipple
Lieutenant Governor
of Rhode Island

Succeeded by
Samuel G. Arnold