Lawrence (of the Punjab and of Grately), John Laird Mair Lawrence, 1st Baron
(b. March 4, 1811, Richmond, Yorkshire, Eng.--d. June 27, 1879, London), British Viceroy and Governor General of India whose institution in the Punjab of extensive economic, social, and political reforms earned him the sobriquet "Saviour of the Punjab."
His former home in Richmond is located at the bottom of the Market Square and is now a bank:
When 19 years old Lawrence with his elder brother Henry travelled to Calcutta (1830). Shortly after he moved to Delhi where for 19 years he served as an assistant judge, magistrate and tax collector. It was in this role that he came to strongly oppose the oppression of the peasantry by the tax collectors (talukdars).
In 1840 he returned home for two year and on his return was recognised successfully organising the transport and delivery of essential supplies from Delhi to the Indo-British army fighting in the First Sikh War (Punjab 1845-46). Lawrence's reward at the age of 35 was promotion to Commissioner for the newly annexed district of Jullundur.
As Commissioner he subdued the war like hill chiefs that plagued the district, prepared a revenue settlement, established courts and police posts and curbed female infanticide. Lawrence also tried to bring and end to Suttee (a ritual during which following the death of their husband, a widow would immolate herself on the funeral pyre). He also trained a group of officials and in the same period twice deputised for his brother as resident at Lahore.
Lawrence became increasingly impatient with the Sikh council and was eager to place financial reform under British control. Following the Second Sikh War (1848-49) he was appointed as a member of the Punjab board of administration under his brother Henry. He made a first summary revenue settlement, abolished internal duties, introduced a uniform currency and postal system, and encouraged road and canal construction. To finance this work, he economised, curtailing the privileges of chiefs' estates an act that brought him into conflict with his brother Henry. James Ramsay, Lord Dalhousie, governor general, dissolved the Punjab board in 1853, and appointed Lawrence Chief Commissioner in the executive branch.
On the outbreak of the mutiny in 1857, Lawrence restricted the sepoy (Indians employed as soldiers) battalions to the Punjab. His successful negotiation of a treaty with the Afghan ruler Dost Mohammad Khan earned him a Baronet and Knight Grand Cross of the Bath. After a brief visit to England, he returned to India in 1864 as a member of the civil service and was appointed Viceroy and Governor General of India.
Lawrence sought British security in a sepoy army of divided loyalty and in the weakening of princely forces and although he resisted the appointment of Indians to high civil service posts he nonetheless promoted increased educational opportunities. He wisely refrained from intervening in the succession dispute in Afghanistan after the death of Amir Dost Mohammad in 1863, rejected entanglements in the affairs of Arabia and the Persian Gulf, and recognised any chief who secured power. He was created Baron Lawrence of the Punjab and of Grately, Hampshire, after his return to England in 1869.
The Golden Temple shown above is the Harmandir Sahib (meaning Temple of God) is also commonly known as Darbar Sahib (Divine Court). The Golden Temple is a symbol of the spiritual and historical traditions of the Sikhs and is their chief place of pilgrimage. The temple stands in the middle of the tank of nectar. The Golden Temple has entrances and doors on all four sides. Guru Arjan Dev exclaimed; "My faith is for the people of all castes and all creeds from whichever direction they come and to whichever direction they bow." (Return to narrative)
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Map courtesy of Jasjeet Singh Thind at Punjabonline
"Lawrence (of the Punjab and of Grately), John Laird Mair Lawrence, 1st Baron" Britannica Online.
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