Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/211

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Laurence
Laurence
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and Stamford societies (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. vi. 5, 93), and joined with William Stukeley and George Lynn in the formation of the Brazen-nose Society at Stamford, to which he communicated accurate meteorological observations (Stukeley, Family Memoirs, Surtees Soc., ii. 427). He died in 1740 or 1742.

To the 'Clergyman and Gentleman's Recreation,' by his brother John, 4th edit. 1716, Laurence appended 'A new and familiar way to find a most exact Meridian Line by the Pole-star, whereby Gentlemen may know the true Bearings of their Houses and Garden Walls, and regulate their Clocks and Watches, &c.' (Nichols, iv. 576). He also published:

  1. 'The Young Surveyor's Guide,' 12mo, London, 1716; 2nd edit. 1717.
  2. 'The Duty of a Steward to his Lord … To which is added an Appendix showing the way to Plenty proposed to the Farmers; wherein are laid down general Rules and Directions for the Management and Improvement of a Farm,' &c., 4to, London, 1727.

Both treatises were written originally for the use of the stewards and tenants of the young Duke of Buckingham. Exception was taken to some passages in the book by John Cowper, a Surrey farmer, in 'An Essay proving that inclosing Commons … is contrary to the interest of the Nation,' 8vo, 1732. 3. 'A Dissertation on Estates upon Lives and Years, whether in Lay or Church Hands. With an exact calculation of their real worth by proper Tables,' &c., 8vo, London, 1730.

[Laurence's Works; Donaldson's Agricultural Biog.]

G. G.

LAURENCE, FRENCH (1757–1809), civilian, eldest son of Richard Laurence, watchmaker, of Bath, by Elizabeth, daughter of John French, clothier, of Warminster, Wiltshire, was born on 3 April 1757. Richard Laurence [q. v.] was his younger brother. He was educated at Winchester School under Dr. Joseph Warton [q. v.], and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, of which he was scholar, and where he graduated B.A. on 17 Dec. 1777, and proceeded M.A. on 21 June 1781. On leaving the university he took chambers at the Middle Temple with the view of being called to the common-law bar, but eventually determined to devote himself to civil law, and having taken the degree of D.C.L. at Oxford, 19 Oct. 1787, was admitted to the College of Advocates on 3 Nov. in the ensuing year.

Laurence had shown in youth considerable faculty for English verse. While pursuing his legal studies he wrote political ballads in aid of Fox's candidature for Westminster in 1784, and contributed to the 'Rolliad' the advertisements and dedication, Criticisms iii. vi. vii. viii. xiii. and xiv. in the first part, vii. in the second part; Probationary Odes xvi. and xxi.; and the first of the Political Eclogues, viz. 'Rose, or the Complaint.' Having made himself useful to Burke in preparing the preliminary case against Warren Hastings, he was retained as counsel in 1788 by the managers of the impeachment, together with William Scott, afterwards lord Stowell [q. v.], for colleague; and though he took no part in the proceedings in Westminster Hall beyond attending and watching their progress, he gave excellent advice in chambers, and acquired a high reputation for learning and ability. His practice in ecclesiastical and admiralty courts thenceforward grew rapidly. He remained on very intimate terms with Burke until that statesman's death, and was his literary executor [see under Burke, Edmund]. His letters to Burke were published and edited by his brother in 'The Epistolary Correspondence of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke and Dr. French Laurence,' London, 1827, 8vo. In 1796 he was appointed, through the interest of the Duke of Portland, regius professor of civil law at Oxford, in succession to Dr. Thomas Francis Wenman [q. v.], and the same year, through the influence of Burke with Earl Fitzwilliam, entered parliament as member for Peterborough. His speeches in parliament were marked by learning and weight rather than brilliance and force, and except on questions of international law, in which he was a recognised authority, evinced a mind so dominated by the influence of Burke as almost entirely to have parted with its independence. In opposing the union with Ireland he insisted that Burke, had he lived, would have done so likewise. Laurence was a member of the committee appointed in 1806 to frame the articles of impeachment against Lord Melville [see Dundas, Henry, first Viscount Melville]. He was chancellor of the diocese of Oxford and a judge of the court of admiralty of the Cinque ports. He died suddenly on 26 Feb. 1809, while on a visit to one of his brothers at Eltham, Kent, and was buried in Eltham Church, where a marble tablet was placed to his memory.

Laurence did not marry. His leisure time he spent in society—he was a member of the Eumelean Club—or in trifling with literature and divinity. As his contributions to the 'Rolliad' abundantly evince, he did not lack wit, but he had not the readiness necessary for brilliant social success, and an indistinct enunciation made his conversation 'like a learned manuscript written in a bad hand.' His person was unwieldy, and his