John L. Lawrence 1785-1849


Distinguished career in Politics and Public Service: Appointed Secretary of Legation to Sweden, became United States Charge at Stockholm, elected member of Assembly for NYC, elected State Senator, first president of the Croton Aqueduct Commisson, Treasurer of Columbia College and Controller of the City of New York.

Husband of Sarah Augusta Smith. They were parents of eleven children, including: Mary [died young], Richard, Egbert, Robert, Charles Jeffrey, Ann Middleton Suydam and Hon Abraham Riker Lawrence. Died of cholera.


John L. Lawrence (October 2, 1785 – July 24, 1849) was an American lawyer, diplomat, and politician from New York.

Early life
John was born in New York City. He was the son of Jonathan Lawrence (1737–1812), a merchant and New York State Senator, and Ruth (née Riker) Lawrence (1746–1818), a member of the Riker family, for whom Rikers Island is named.[1] Among his siblings were brothers Samuel Lawrence (1773–1837), a Congressmen, and William T. Lawrence (1788–1859).[2]

He was also a direct descendant of Capt. James Lawrence, a hero of the War of 1812,[3] and Maj. Thomas Lawrence of the British Army who received a land grant in 1656 in what became Queens.[4]

He graduated from Columbia College in 1803.[5]

From June 7, 1814, to May 19, 1815, he was Chargé d’Affaires at Stockholm, representing the United States during the absence of Minister to Sweden Jonathan Russell.[6]

He was a member of the New York State Assembly (New York Co.) in 1816–17. He was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1821.[7]

He was a presidential elector in 1840, voting for William Henry Harrison and John Tyler.[7]

He was a member of the New York State Senate (4th D.) in 1848 and 1849. In May 1849, he was appointed New York City Comptroller,[8] but died two months later.[7]

Personal life
On June 2, 1816, he married Sarah Augusta Smith (1794–1877), daughter of Elizabeth (née Woodhull) Smith (daughter of Gen. Nathaniel Woodhull) and General John Tangier Smith, a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from New York.[9] Together, John and Sarah were the parents of eleven children, including Abraham Riker Lawrence, a Justice of the Supreme Court of New York.[10]

Lawrence died of cholera in New York City on July 24, 1849.[11]



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