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Sir Henry Lawrence

Founder of Lawrence Schools, India (1806-1857)
Sir Henry Lawrence

Henry Montgomery Lawrence was born at Matara, Ceylon, on 28th June 1806, to Alexander Lawrence of Coleraine and Catherine Letitia Knox of Strabane. Following service in the Indian Territories, Alexander and his family returned to Coleraine in 1808.  From 1815-1819 Henry and his brothers attended Foyle College, where the Reverand James Knox, his maternal uncle, was headmaster. Lawrence Hill on which the college stands was named after the family.  Henry finished his schooling in England and at the age of 16, in 1822, he joined the headquarters fof the Bengal Artillary at Dum Dum, near Calcutta. 


Henry married Honoria Marshall, from Fahan, in 1838 and one year later Henry was given the civil charge of Ferozepore, followed by trusts in Nepal and Lehore.  He received the knighthood in 1848 and continued to serve in Punjab until March 1957, when he was appointed Chief Commissioner and Agent in Oudh.


It was during his time in the Punjab that Sir Henry, ably supported by Lady Honoria, founded a boarding school at Kasauli, near Shimla, for orphans and children of British soldiers who had served in India. This asylum was a great success and later became known as the Royal Military School, Sanawar. A second smaller asylum, run by military personnel, followed at Mount Abu, a hill station in Southern Rajasthan. Shortly before his death, Sir Henry had put forward proposals for the establishment of a further asylum in South India, but the deadline set was not met and the project lapsed. 


Following the disruption in 1843, he supported the Reverend Alexander Duff in establishing the Free Church Institution in Kolkata, as a rival to the General Assembly's Institution, which had been founded by Duff in 1830.  These two institutions founded by Duff would later be merged to become The Scottish Churches College.


After his death, Committees were quickly formed in England, Londonderry and at Ootacamund, India, to honour Sir Henry's memory and implement his wish to provide for shelter and education for more children of British soldiers.. From a small school at Ootacamund, opened on 6th September, 1858, a large government sponsored estate was developed to become the Lawrence Memorial Royal Military School, Lovedale. A fourth Lawrence school at Ghora Gali College, Murree, (now in Pakistan) completed the tribute to Sir Henry and Lady Lawrence. Mount Abu closed soon after India's Independence in 1947, but the three remaining institutions continue as proud, significant and successful schools on the Sub-Continent.