Bishop Potter alludes to Francis Effingham Lawrence’s middle name, which Francis usually concealed under an humble E.

It is characteristic of the intrinsic modesty of his nature that, though his middle name, Effingham, descended to him through a long line of honorable, and, in its trans-Atlantic connections, noble ancestry, he himself never used it, and during his whole life wrote in connection with his signature only its initial letter.

The Lawrence family believed that they were related to the Earls of Effingham. Supposedly Joseph Lawrence married a Mary Townley, whose sister Dorothy married an Earl of Effingham. These Townley sisters were supposedly members of the wealthy Townley family of Townley Hall.

This never happened.

What in fact happened is that Thomas Lawrence (1580-1625) married Joan Antrobus (1592-1659) and had three sons, William, Thomas, and Joseph. The father died; his widow Joann married John Tuttle (1596-1656) and all of them came to Massachusetts on the Planter in 1635.

William Lawrence (1622-1680) married Elizabeth Smith. He died; she married Philip Carteret, governor of New Jersey (1639-1682). He died, and she married Richard Nicholas Townley (1629-1711), and by him had a son Effingham Townley. Richard Townley had come to Virginia in 1683 in the suite of the Earl of Effingham, and presumably named his son after his patron. Richard Townley was not a member of the Townley family of Townley Hall.

The Townley family of Townley Hall had only one daughter at this time. There were not three Townely daughters of Richard Townley (1629-1707), but only one: Mary Anne Dorothy Townley. Because the family had previously been in the custom of giving only one name to their children, the daughter with three names was inadvertently later identified as three daughters, two of whom were non-existent, but were nonetheless useful in providing the Lawrence family with an aristocratic connection.

In any case, there is no evidence that any Earl of Effingham ever married a Townley of any Townley family; and the peerage, as it was important for matters of inheritance, was extremely accurate.

I presume the conceit that they were related to the Earls of Effingham by marriage must have started early among the Lawrences to produce such a fine crop of Effinghams through the centuries, who extended their flight from the name as far as Tasmania.

As Bertie Wooster once said “There’s some dirty work done at the font sometimes, Jeeves!”

  • Effingham Lawrence (many, many of these)
  • Effingham Bulkey Lawrence
  • Edward Effingham lawrence
  • Watson Effingham Lawrence
  • Francis Effingham Lawrence
  • William Effingham Lawrence (one of these went to Tasmania)
  • Owen Effingham Lawrence (of the First Tasmanian Imperial Bushmen)
  • Effingham Calvert Lawrence
  • Effingham Nicoll Lawrence
  • Joseph Effingham Lawrence
  • Albert Effingham Lawrence etc. etc. etc.

The contagion extended to families related by marriage:

  • Effingham Embree
  • Effingham Townley (several of these)
  • Effingham Townsend
  • William Effingham Townsend
  • Lawrence Effingham Embree
  • Effingham Lawrence Townsend
  • Effingham Maynard
  • Effingham H. Nichols
  • Effingham Warner
  • Charles Effingham Townley
  • Effingham Lawrence Capron
  • William Effingham Lawrence Hunter etc. etc. etc.

And there are many suspicious E.’s in the Lawrence family.

And women:

  • Frances Effingham Lawrence
  • Bertha Effingham Lawrence Newton Davison

Not to mention the Effies:

  • Effie Lawrence
  • Francis Effie Lawrence
  • Effie Humphrey

All this would be harmless enough, only afflicting boys with a name they would rather not have (although it’s better than Sue), but vanity combined with greed involved the Lawrence family in one of the classic cons of the nineteenth century, which I will cover in another blog.

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