Henry Lawrence: Great Minds

Brigadier-General Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence (1806-1857) was a British military officer, surveyor, administrator and statesman in British India. He was the founder of Lawrence School, Lovedale.

 Lawrence was born in Matura (in Sri Lanka) to a poor Irish soldier of fortune. After joining the East India Company in 1823 he studied Urdu, Hindi and Persian languages to join the Survey Department. He rose up to become an exceptional soldier-administrator who helped consolidate British rule in the Punjab region. He and his brother John both served Punjab with distinction.

Lawrence led the defense of the British in Lucknow in the 1857 Indian Mutiny, was wounded and died on July 4. He died as humbly as he was born and lived.  His epitaph read – Here Lies Lawrence, who tried to do his duty.   While in service he and his wife preferred a modest hut to palatial bungalows to live in.

The schools that his brother started in name of Lawrence, including the one at Lovedale, were to help make the orphaned children of the soldiers become useful members of the society. Moral, industrial and social training were supposed to be the basic curriculum of the schools.  The Lawrence School, Lovedale was opened on May 12, 1858.

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