William Lawrence (bishop)

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The Right Reverend
William Lawrence
Bishop of Massachusetts
Bishop 2949636532 a6a80123e0 o.jpg
William Lawrence (between 1910 and 1915)
Church Episcopal Church
Diocese Massachusetts
In office 1893–1927
Predecessor Phillips Brooks
Successor Charles Lewis Slattery
Personal details
Born 1850
Died 6 November 1941 (aged 91)
Nationality American
Parents Amos Adams Lawrence and
Sarah Elizabeth Lawrence
Spouse Julia Lawrence (d. 1900)
Children 5
Alma mater Harvard University

William Lawrence (1850–1941) was elected as the 7th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts (1893–1927). Lawrence was the son of the notable textile industrialist Amos Adams Lawrence and a member of the influential Boston family, founded by his great-grandfather and American revolutionary, Samuel Lawrence. His grandfather was the famed philanthropist Amos Lawrence.


Lawrence was born in 1850 and graduated from Harvard College, as was the tradition in his family. He earned his Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1897. He was later honored with a Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree from Harvard in 1910 presented by his cousin and then president of Harvard, A. Lawrence Lowell.

Lawrence is best known for founding the church pension system. He was also known as "the banker bishop" because his fund-raising drives "invariably developed with Midas-like magic."[citation needed] The financier J. P. Morgan, Jr. served as treasurer of the Church Pension Fund from its founding in 1918.

While bishop emeritus, Lawrence was involved in an effort to proposition a new Book of Common Prayer to the Church of England. Also, while in retirement, he realized the need for a chapel at Massachusetts General Hospital and in the late 1930s, as the White Building was under construction, convinced of the importance of faith and spirit in healing, he sent over fifteen hundred hand-written letters to friends of the hospital asking for their support "in this bit of pioneer hospital work."[citation needed] Over eight hundred people of all faiths responded.

In 1926, Lawrence published his autobiography, Memories of a Happy Life.


His sons, following in his footsteps also became bishops of the Episcopal Church. William Appleton Lawrence was elected 3rd Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts (1925–41) and Frederic C. Lawrence was elected suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts (1956–68). Lawrence's daughter Sarah founded the Junior League of Boston in 1906.[1] She later married her father's successor, Bishop Charles Lewis Slattery, in 1923.[2]

Famous quote[edit]

The "banker bishop" is quoted as having said, "In the long run it is only to the man of morality that wealth comes... We, like the Psalmists, occasionally see the wicked prosper, but only occasionally. Godliness is in league with riches.”[citation needed]




External links[edit]

Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by
Phillips Brooks
7th Bishop of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Charles Lewis Slattery
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
William G. McAdoo
Cover of Time Magazine
14 January 1924
Succeeded by
Henry Cabot Lodge