LAWRENCE, ALEXANDER, cabinet-maker, upholsterer, and musician; b. 8 April 1788 in Methlick, Scotland; m. first Mary Wilson in Scotland, and they had four sons and two daughters; m. secondly 6 June 1833 Margaret Barr in Saint John, N.B., and they had two sons and three daughters; d. 28 Oct. 1843 in Saint John, although his residence was a farm at Norton.
Alexander Lawrence emigrated from Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1817, arriving in Saint John on the ship Protector. He began his business of cabinet-maker and upholsterer on King Street in August that year. In May 1819 he formed a co-partnership with Robert Sheed, which lasted until June 1821. During this period, Lawrence took the oath of freeman of Saint John on 21 Jan. 1820. His shop, which he had moved a number of times in 1817–19, was situated on Germain Street from May 1820 until April 1827, when he relocated on King Street, next to the Masonic Hall; there he remained until his retirement.
Lawrence had come out to Saint John in the company of the Reverend Dr George Burns, a minister for the city’s new Presbyterian kirk, St Andrew’s. The church gave Lawrence an opportunity to be involved in music and he became the first precentor of the kirk. Presumably he served in this capacity until he remarried; he then attended Trinity Anglican Church. Soon after his arrival from Scotland, he had advertised that he would give lessons in sacred vocal music, both in a weekly class as well as privately. His interest in music is further demonstrated by his involvement in the Sacred Music Society. He was instrumental in its formation in 1837 and served as its president until his death.
A freemason, Lawrence was active in St John’s Lodge No.29 of Saint John. He was entered in April 1818, raised in June 1818, and in due course advanced to the degrees of fellow of the craft and master mason. On 17 Jan. 1820, the royal arch degrees were conferred upon him in the Carleton chapter. He served as senior warden in 1827 and 1828, and as worshipful master the following year. A delegate to the meeting which formed the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of New Brunswick in 1829, he was elected senior grand deacon for 1830 in that body. In April 1830, his brethren in the St John Lodge presented him with an address engrossed on parchment in recognition of his important services. Lawrence was active in the formation of the Saint John Mechanics’ Institute in 1838. He served as a director from 1838 to 1841 and as vice-president in 1842.
In September 1842, Lawrence announced that he was retiring from business around the first of the year, at which time his sons Joseph Wilson* and George Hunter would take over his cabinet-making shop. They carried it on into the latter part of the 19th century. Lawrence retired to a farm in Norton and died within a year.
City of Saint John, N.B., City Clerk’s Office, Common Council, minutes, V: 111 (mfm. at PANB). N.B. Museum, St Andrew’s (Presbyterian) Church (Saint John), reg. of baptisms, 1817–35; reg. of marriages, 1817–31 (typescript); Trinity (Anglican) Church (Saint John), reg. of baptisms, 1835–60, nos.250, 666; vestry minutes, 28 March 1842 (typescript). PANB, RG 7, RS71, 1843, Alexander Lawrence. City Gazette (Saint John), 17 Sept., 17 Dec. 1817; 28 April, 5 May 1819; 10 May 1820; 13 June 1821; 13 June 1833. Herald (Saint John), 10 April 1839. Morning News (Saint John), 15 April 1840, 30 Oct. 1843. New-Brunswick Courier, 6 Sept. 1817, 2 June 1827, 31 March 1832, 8 June 1833, 17 April 1841. Weekly Chronicle (Saint John), 6 April, 3 Aug., 7 Dec. 1838; 16 Aug. 1839; 7 Aug., 2 Oct. 1840; 14 Aug. 1841; 15 April, 12 Aug., 23 Sept. 1842; 3 Nov. 1843. Weekly Observer (Saint John), 3 April 1832. W. F. Bunting, History of St. John’s Lodge, F. & A.M. of Saint John, New Brunswick . . . (Saint John, 1895). E. P. Costello, “A report on the Saint John Mechanics’ Institute, 1838–1890” (ma thesis, Univ. of N.B., Fredericton, 1974), 37.