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LAWRENCE (d. 1154), prior of Durham and Latin poet, was, as he himself tells us, born at Waltham, Essex, and educated in the house of the secular canons at that place. When still young he went to Durham, and there became a Benedictine monk. He rose to be chanter and precentor, and winning the favour of Geoffrey Rufus the bishop, was made one of his chaplains and receiver of his exchequer. On Geoffrey's death in 1140 Lawrence returned to his monastic life ; he took a prominent part in resisting William Cumin, David of Scotland's chancellor, who endeavoured to secure the bishopric for himself by force. It has been suggested that Lawrence was indeed the clerk of that name whom Bernard of Clairvaux recommended to the monks of Durham for bishop in 1143 (Cat. Vet. Scriptt. Dunelm. p. 160, Surtees Soc.) Lawrence was probably one of the monks whom Cumin expelled in the autumn of 1143, and apparently he then revisited Waltham. Next year the monks were recalled by Cumin, whose schemes had failed. Lawrence busied himself with the composition of his 'Dialogues' till in 1147 he was chosen prior of his monastery. In February 1153 Lawrence and his monks chose Hugh de Puiset [q. v.] to fill the again vacant see ; but the choice did not commend itself to Henry Murdac [q. v.], archbishop of York, and Hugh and Lawrence had to make a journey to Rome. There Hugh was consecrated on 20 Dec. by Pope Anastasius IV. Lawrence told the pope of the fame of St. Cuthbert, and obtained from him an indulgence of forty days for all pilgrims to the saint's shrine (Hist. Dun. Scriptt. Tres, p. xxxiv). Before Lawrence's departure from Durham St. Godric [q. v.] the hermit had foretold that he would never return {Vita S. Godrici, pp. 232-8, Surtees Soc) ; as the party were on their way back through France, Lawrence fell ill, and died 17 March 1154 (Symbon of Durham, i. xlix, Rolls Ser.) He was buried where he died, but some years later his remains were brought home to Durham.

Geoffrey of Coldingham describes Lawrence as 'juris peritus, eloquentia prseditus, di vinis institutis sufficienter instructus,' and says he had no need to beg advice from others (Hist. Dun. Scriptt. Tres, p. 4). Lawrence's poems bear evidence of familiarity with Latin classical literature, and from his own account his range of reading must for his time have been singularly wide. His knowledge of Virgil is constantly manifest in the ' Dialogi' (cf. i. 189-91, 34l, 543-4, ii. 33, 467-8), and he also claims acquaintance with Cicero, Plato, Seneca, Lucan, Statius, Plautus, and Ovid, if not with other writers (Dialogi, iv. 477-86; Kypognosticon, bk. ix., ap. Raine, pp. 59, 67). Among his books preserved at Durham was a copy of Cicero 'De Amicitia;' the other volumes are with one exception theological. His poetry, despite occasional violations of metre, is musical and polished; his style clear, terse, and vigorous.

Lawrence wrote : 1. 'Hypognosticon sive Memoriale Veteris et Novi Testamenti.' This is a poem in eight books, with a ninth, 'De diversis Carismatibus,' containing a number of miscellaneous religious pieces. There is an epistolary preface to a friend called Gervase. It was written during his residence in Bishop Geoffrey's court. Lawrence says that after he had composed the poem at great length it was destroyed by a careless servant, but he recollected 3076 lines within a month. The work enjoyed great popularity, and numerous manuscripts are extant, e.g. Harl. 3202, Reg. 4, A. vi., and Cotton. Vesp. D. xi. in the British Museum, all of which date from the twelfth century, Laud. Misc. 898 (sec xii.) and 500 in the Bodleian Library, and Lambeth 238 and 443 ; there are also copies in the cathedral libraries at York (ut infra) and Durham (v. iii. 1, Cat. Vet. Lib. p. 158). Mr. Wright gives a sketch of the poem with illustrative extracts in his 'Biographia Britannica,' pp. 161-4, and Mr. Raine prints some extracts in his edition of the 'Dialogues.' pp. 62-71. Oudin collected material for an edition which he never completed. 2. 'Dialogorum libri quattuor ; ' this poem is occupied chiefly with Cumin's attempted intrusion at Durham. It supplies us with most of our information respecting Lawrence himself, and includes an account of the castle, city, and county of Durham, whence it is sometimes referred to as 'De Civitate et Episcopatu Dunelmensi.' It has been edited by Mr. James Raine for the Surtees Soc., vol. lxx. 1880. The only manuscript is preserved at York (No. 42, Bernard, Cat. MSS. Angliæ, ii. 4). 3. 'Consolatio de Morte Amici' (or 'Pagani'): a work partly in prose and partly in verse, after the manner of Boethius. It is contained in Lambeth MS. 238, Cotton. Vespasian D xi., and the York and Durham MSS. 4. 'Rithmus de Christo et Discipulis. 5. 'Psalmus de Resurrectione.' Both these are contained in the Durham MS. 6. 'Oratio pro Laurentio sive Apologia suæ Vitæ in aula actee.' 7. 'Oratio pro Naufragis, vel contra dunpientes naufragorum bona.' 8. 'Oratio pro juvenibus compeditis, veniam petens juvenilis, aui naufragos diripuerunt.' 9. 'Oratio pro Milone Amatore.' 10. 'Invectio in Malgerium.' The last five, which are all in prose, are contained in Lambeth MS. 238, ff. 40-4, and the Durham MS., and the three former also in Cotton. Vesp. D. xi. ff. 100-6. Lawrence is also said to have written : 11. 'Homelæ.' 12. 'Vita Sanctæ Brigidæ.' In prose; it is printed in the Bollandists' ' Acta Sanctorum.' Feb. i. 172-85, from a manuscript at Salamanca. This version is imperfect, the full text is given in Laud. MS. Misc. 668, and Balliol College 226. The poems 'De Cuthberto Episcopo,' 'De Confessoribus,' 'De Virginibus,' 'De Sacramentis,' are contained in the ninth book of the 'Hypognosticon' (Harl. MS. 3202, ff. 108-12; Raise, up. 66-7l). Bale adds a work which he calls 'Ad Hathewisiam,' but of this nothing seems to be known. The sermons 'De Christi Adventu,' 'De Christi Natali,' 'De Assumptione Marice,' which are sometimes ascribed to Lawrence of Durham, really belong to Lawrence of Westminster [q. v.], who was a monk at Durham under our writer, and accompanied him part of the way on his journey to Rome in 1163. Leland and others have confused the two Lawrences.

[Hist. Dunelm. Scriptt. Tres; Catalogi Veteres Librorum Dunelm. Dialogi Laurentii Dunelmensis (all these are printed by the Surtees Soc); Bale, ii. 88; Leland's Comment, de Scriptt. p. 204; Tanner's Bibl. Brit-Hib. p. 472; Oudin's Script. Eccl. ii. 1022; Wright's Biog. Brit Lit. Anglo-Norman, pp. 160–5; Hardy's Cat. Brit. Hist i. 109–10, ii. 266–6 (Rolls Ser.)]

C. L. K.