William Beach Lawrence

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William Beach Lawrence
William Lawrence by J Cochran c 1820.jpg
Lawrence c. 1820
Acting United States Minister to the United Kingdom
In office
PresidentJohn Quincy Adams
Preceded byAlbert Gallatin
Succeeded byJames Barbour
Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island
In office
GovernorPhilip Allen
Preceded byThomas Whipple
Succeeded bySamuel G. Arnold
Personal details
William Beach Lawrence

(1800-10-23)October 23, 1800
New York City, New York
DiedMarch 26, 1881(1881-03-26) (aged 80)
New York City, New York
Esther Rogers Gracie
(m. 1821; died 1857)
MotherCornelia Ann Beach
FatherIsaac Lawrence
Alma materColumbia College
Litchfield Law School

William Beach Lawrence (October 23, 1800 – March 26, 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][2] His family was wealthy and had immigrated from England. A member of the Philolexian Society, he graduated from Columbia in 1818 and was admitted to the bar in 1823, after studying at Litchfield Law School.[3]


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.[4] He became vice-president of the New York Historical Society in 1836.[5]

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[6]
  • Isaac Lawrence (1828–1919), a democratic candidate for Governor of Rhode Island in 1878[6]
  • Esther Gracie Lawrence, who first married Dr. W. L. Wheeler. She later married Count Felix von Voss-Giewitz of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.[7] He was previously married to Elise Gräfin Szapáry c. Szapár[8]
  • Albert Gallatin Lawrence (1836–1887),[9] 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.[6]
  • Cornelia Beach Lawrence, who married Baron von Klenck, of Hanover, a decorated hero of the Franco-Prussian war.[1]
  • James G. K. Lawrence (1845-1895), who married Catherine Augusta Le Roy.[6][10]

Lawrence died in March 1881 in New York City while seeking medical treatment.[1][2]


  • 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)[11]
  • 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 February 20, 2017.
  2. ^ a b The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. IX. James T. White & Company. 1907. pp. 399–400. Retrieved November 16, 2020 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ 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 February 20, 2017.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ 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 February 20, 2017.
  5. ^ "William Beach Lawrence (1800-1881)". www.nyhistory.org. New-York Historical Society. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  6. ^ 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 February 20, 2017.
  7. ^ Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, Volume 57. F. W. Dodge Corporation. March 7, 1896. p. 399. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  8. ^ Degener, Hermann August Ludwig; Habel, Walter (1906). Deutsche Who's who (in German). Arani. p. 1245. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  9. ^ "Albert Gallatin Lawrence - People - Department History - Office of the Historian". history.state.gov. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  10. ^ Social Register, New York. New York: Social Register Association. 1901. p. 524. Retrieved February 20, 2017. Catherine Le Roy Lawrence.
  11. ^ Wheaton, Henry (1855). Elements of International Law; with last corrections of the author, additional notes, and introductory remarks, containing a notice of Mr. Wheaton's diplomatic career, and the antecedents of his life by William Beach Lawrence (6 ed.). Boston: Little, Brown and Company. Retrieved April 20, 2018 – via Internet Archive.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Whipple
Lieutenant Governor
of Rhode Island

Succeeded by
Samuel G. Arnold