Fonds ID5470 - Joseph W. Lawrence

Title proper

Joseph W. Lawrence

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  • Textual record

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  • [1880]-1886 (Creation)
    Lawrence, Joseph Wilson

Physical description

7 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

Joseph Wilson Lawrence was an historian, author, politician, furniture maker, and undertaker born in Saint John, New Brunswick on 28 February 1818, the son of Alexander Lawrence, a Scottish immigrant and furniture maker, and his wife, Mary Wilson. Joseph Lawrence and his brother George inherited their father's furniture manufacturing business around 1843.

Joseph learned his father's trade but was also an exceptional student. J.W. Lawrence began researching New Brunswick history very early and was one of the first citizens to begin collecting documents and other relics. At the age of 17, Joseph Lawrence and his friend, Samuel Leonard Tilley, formed the Young Men's Debating Society which lasted for many years and was the stepping stone to his public life. In 1839, Joseph Lawrence and Leonard Tilley became Anglican Sunday school teachers. The following year, both Tilley and Lawrence took the total abstinence pledge. On 10 June 1846, J.W. Lawrence married Anna Catherine Bloomfield of New York in the Dutch Reformed Church in New York City. They had at least 3 sons and 2 daughters.

Lawrence entered into politics during the 1850s and was elected twice to the Legislature in New Brunswick as Saint John's representative. J.W. Lawrence was strongly opposed to Confederation. He was appointed chairman of the European and North American Railway Commission in 1866, but was dismissed from this position because of his views on Confederation.

Beginning in 1870, Joseph W. Lawrence devoted his time to historical research. He was a founding member of the New Brunswick Historical Society and was elected president at the first meeting, a position he held until the time of his death in 1892. J.W. Lawrence wrote several papers on various topics for presentation to the society. Joseph Lawrence was also a corresponding member of both the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, and the New York Historical Society, an Honourary Member of the Quebec Literary and Historical Society and an Honourary Member of the Worcester Society of Antiquity. On 11 April 1867, Joseph Lawrence was made a life member of the Saint John Mechanics Society which his father had helped to found.

Joseph W. Lawrence was the author of "Footprints or Incidents in early history of New Brunswick" (1883), "A minority report on the proposed Baie Verte Canal" (1876), "Loyalists' Centennial Souvenir" (1883), and "The Judges of New Brunswick And Their Times" (published posthumously in 1907). Joseph Lawrence died 6 November 1892; his widow, Anna, died 6 months later in May 1893.

Sources: Huia G. Ryder, Antique Furniture by New Brunswick Craftsman; New Brunswick Historical Society Collections, vol. 1; Acadiensis, vol.1, no.1

Custodial history

Information about the custody of this record prior to acquisition is incomplete. They came to the Museum at the same time as the business records of J. & G. Lawrence, (ID758)

Scope and content

The fonds consists of Joseph Lawrence's notes on New Brunswick history. The notes include an outline of the plans for an Arbor Day Tree Planting in conjunction with the 1883 Loyalist Centennial celebration in Saint John, N.B. A notebook provides biographical information on the Hon. George Street and L.A. Wilmot.

Also included is the reminiscences of Lawrence's association with Sir Leonard Tilley, (1835-1885) which provides details of their shared interests, especially politics. There are notes about 1783 early history of New Brunswick and an account of the Maria Anning trust deed. Joseph Lawrence was the chairman of this trust and the matter of the family dispute over a will was finally settled by the courts. There is also a list of persons admitted as attorneys and barristers from 1785-1836.

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by the Lawrence estate, 1940


Language of material

  • English

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No restrictions

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The New Brunswick Museum also holds the fonds of J. & G. Lawrence (ID758)

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