Lawrence was the eldest son of William Lawrence, an alderman of the City of London, and his wife Jane Clarke, daughter of James Clarke. He was a builder in London and a partner in the firm of William Lawrence and Sons Builders. In 1857 he was High Sheriff of London and Middlesex for a year and in 1863 to 1864 Lord Mayor of London. He was a Deputy Lieutenant for the City of London, a J.P. for Middlesex and Westminster and an alderman of London.
At the 1865 general election Lawrence was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the City of London, but lost the seat in 1874. He was re-elected at the 1880 general election and held the seat until the next general election, in 1885, when representation was reduced from four to two under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. He was the last Liberal to represent the City of London 
Lawrence died unmarried at the age of 78. The address at his funeral was given by Brooke Herford, minister of Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel where he, like his father, had worshipped. His brothers Sir James Lawrence, 1st Baronet and Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence were also M.P.s. James was MP for Lambeth, Edwin for Truro. His nephew Frederick Pethick-Lawrence was a pacifist and suffragette, and later an MP.
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir James Duke, Bt
Robert Wigram Crawford
Baron Lionel de Rothschild
|Member of Parliament for the City of London
1865 – 1874
With: George Goschen 1863–80
Robert Wigram Crawford 1857–74
Baron Lionel de Rothschild 1847–68
Charles Bell 1868–69
Baron Lionel de Rothschild 1869–80
John Gellibrand Hubbard
|Member of Parliament for City of London
1874 – 1887
With: William Cotton 1874–85
John Gellibrand Hubbard 1874–87
Sir Robert Fowler, Bt 1880–91
Sir Robert Nicholas Fowler
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