Pioneers of Grey County: Samuel Lawrence (1832-1907)

Samuel Lawrence

In my previous blog post My People Came From Wicklow: The Lawrence Experience of 1848 I wrote about John and Martha Lawrence’s courageous journey in search of a better life in Canada.  As a follow up to that post, I thought it might be interesting to write about the lives of some of their children to see how the family fared after their arrival in Grey County, Ontario.

Samuel Lawrence was born about 1832 in County Wicklow, the third of nine children born to a tenant farmer named John Lawrence and his wife, Martha (Farrar).  Samuel would have been about 17 years old when he came to Canada with his parents and siblings.  According to census records, Samuel could read, but not write.  It may have been that he did not have the advantage of an education, or that his education was cut short so that he could help out at home and in the fields.

Like his father, Samuel Lawrence was a farmer and pioneer of Grey County.  According to A History of Egremont 1840-1983 While We Still Remember:

Clearing the land was a laborious task.  Large trees were chopped by axe, and the stumps had to be removed by hand if the pioneer was unfortunate enough not to own a horse or oxen.  Only then could the pioneer begin the task of levelling the land and removing stones and sticks.” 

The Life of Samuel Lawrence

Samuel Lawrence’s obituary appeared in The Durham Review and The Durham Chronicle on March 14, 1907, both of which can be seen below.  While newspaper articles like these are not considered primary sources in genealogy, they probably provide the best surviving account of Samuel’s life.

The Durham Review – March 14, 1907

Obituary of Samuel Lawrence

The Durham Chronicle – March 14, 1907

Samuel Lawrence


Samuel Lawrence

Photograph of Samuel Lawrence’s Family

Samuel Lawrence family & Martha Farrar
Samuel Lawrence (seated far right) abt. 1900

Children of Samuel Lawrence & Ann Parslow

Samuel Lawrence married Ann Parslow and the couple had a large family which can be seen in the photograph above.  This picture includes Samuel’s mother, Martha Lawrence (Farrar) which means it was taken prior to her death in January 1902.  By the time of Samuel’s death in 1907, his children had had become widely dispersed throughout western Canada and the United States.

It is interesting to note the differences between the two obituaries that appeared in the Durham papers following Samuel’s death.  The obituary in The Durham Chronicle is the more detailed account, and appears to be more accurate.  Although The Durham Review indicates that Samuel’s daughter Alice was living in the west, this appears to be incorrect, as we know from Samuel’s will that his daughters Alice and Victoria both predeceased him.

Samuel and Ann had another daughter named Doretta, who died in 1882 at just two years of age.  Doretta’s headstone can be seen below.

Doretta Lawrence
Headstone of Doretta Lawrence (Trinity Anglican Cemetery – Durham, ON)

Devoted Member of Orange Order

As was the case with many Protestants from Ireland, we know from Samuel’s obituary that he was a devoted member of the Orange Order.  The Grey Roots Museum & Archives holds the minute books for the Orange Lodges that existed in Grey County in Samuel’s day, and it would certainly be interesting to see if we can learn the specific lodge that Samuel belonged to and any further reference to him in the minute books.

Orange Lodge
Orange Lodge – Moreston Heritage Village (Grey Roots Museum & Archives)

Final Thoughts

One unanswered question is around what happened to Samuel’s younger brother James.  The Durham Review mentions that James was living in the north west at the time of his brother’s death, however The Durham Chronicle makes no mention of Samuel’s siblings at all.  This seems to be the last time we hear of James.  I know that I’m not the only one who would love to figure that one out!

Samuel’s obituary mentions that he was buried in the English Church Cemetery, which must have been another name for the Trinity Anglican Cemetery. where Samuel’s parents and many of the Lawrences are also buried.  A picture of his headstone is pictured below.

Headstone of Samuel Lawrence
Headstone of Samuel and Ann Lawrence (Parslow)

In closing, I will leave you with a piece that I found in the same issue of The Durham Review as Samuel’s obituary.

Old Man
The Durham Review – March 14, 1907

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One thought on “Pioneers of Grey County: Samuel Lawrence (1832-1907)

  1. People today have no idea what hard work is! But Samuel Lawrence did! He didn’t give up and got it Done! The Lawrence family has proven to be a very determined and hardworking lot. A family name I’m proud to be a part of!

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