Pioneers of Grey County: William Lawrence (1836-1921)

William Lawrence

William Lawrence

As a follow up to My People Came From Wicklow: The Lawrence Experience of 1848, I decided to dedicate a series of blog posts to explore how the children of John Lawrence and Martha Farrar fared after the family immigrated to Grey County, Ontario in the early 1850’s.  The subject of this blog post is John and Martha’s fifth child, William Lawrence (1836-1921).

William was about thirteen years old when his family left the Coollattin Estate in the spring of 1848 and boarded a ship for Canada.  The picture above shows William later in life, where he is seated and surrounded by his own large family.

William’s death was reported in The Durham Review, which gives a detailed and colourful account of his life.  Recently I visited the Grey Roots Museum & Archives where I was able to take a picture of William’s obituary, which can be seen below.

The Durham Review (June 30, 1921)

The Late Wm. Lawrence - June 1921 (Durham Review)

Municipal Service

According to A History of Egremont 1840-1983, While We Still Remember, William Lawrence did indeed sit on Egremont’s township council from 1874 – 1882, and served as Deputy Reeve for a number of those years.  Egremont’s Township Council minute books record many motions made and supported by William Lawrence.  Most of these had to do with collecting taxes, road improvements and schools.  Even though some of the entries are more than 140 years old, I was surprised to see they looked like they could have been written only yesterday.  I have included some of the more interesting ones below.

William Lawrence
Signature of William Lawrence – Deputy Reeve, Egremont Township


William Lawrence
Motion by William Lawrence granting $75 for improvements to Sligo Road


William Lawrence
William’s resignation from Egremont’s township council – January 15, 1883

James Murdoch – Associate of William Lawrence

James Murdoch

Final thoughts

Obituaries are not considered primary sources of information, and they sometimes contain details that are incorrect.  For example, William’s obituary incorrectly spells the townland of  Slieveroe as Sleekraw, and while the article indicates that one of William’s daughters died in infancy, his headstone only makes mention of a son, who died at the age of 14 months.  Did the paper record this fact incorrectly, or did William and Eleanor actually lose two children at a very young age?

Interestingly, the last sentence in William’s obituary ends mid-sentence, leaving readers to wonder what the author wanted us to know about the floral offerings at his funeral!

Headstone of William Lawrence

Tombstone of William Lawrence
Trinity Anglican Cemetery – Town of Durham, ON

 Subscribe to Elusive Ancestor!

Did you enjoy reading this blog post?  Subscribe to this blog to receive notifications of new blog posts!