I’m sure the name or face of today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant doesn’t ring a bell with today’s readers but back in 1871, ringing bells was exactly what William Mangam Lawrence first became famous for in this town. Specifically, those bells were located in the steeple of the former First Baptist Church on Market Street, where Lawrence served as pastor for two years, beginning in 1871. He also had the most intriguing and perhaps most distinguished bloodlines of any resident in the history of this community.
On his father’s side, he was a descendant of Sir Robert Lawrence, who accompanied Richard Creur de Lion, (a.k.a. Richard the Lionhearted) to Palestine and fought alongside him on the first “Crusade” in 1187. On his mother’s side, he was the great-grandson of Esek Hopkins, a former slave ship captain from Rhode Island who became the first Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy.
William Mangam Lawrence was born in Washington DC on May 11, 1847. He grew up a sickly kid in a wealthy family, attending boarding school during most of his childhood years. After working for his father’s business for a year and attending Amherst College for two more, he decided on the ministry and transferred to the Hamilton Seminary in Hamilton, NY, the forerunner of Colgate University. He graduated there in 1871 and came to Amsterdam, where he was ordained by Reverend Dr. G,W. Clark at the Amsterdam church. Reverend Lawrence’s pastorship here, though short, was very successful and the members of his first congregation afterwards kept a proud and close watch on his career path.
That path led him to …
The rest of Dr. Lawrence’s birthday post will be published in the second editionof A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam NY Birthdays, which will be available for sale right after Thanksgiving. To make sure you get your hands on one of the first copies, join my mailing list here.
The first edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam NY Birthdays, which features my birthday posts for 320 current or former Amsterdam residents, is currently being sold at Liberty Fresh Market, on Route 30 in Amsterdam. You can also purchase it online here.
A different sort of Doctor, also a former Amsterdam resident, shares Dr. Lawrence’s May 11 birthday.