Lawrence was born in 1842 to John and Sarah (nee Lawrence) Ching. His father was a businessman and member of the town council, becoming mayor on four occasions. On leaving school in 1856, Lawrence joined the Royal Navy. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1863, commander in February, 1876, and captain on the retired list from April, 1890. While serving as midshipman he was awarded the silver medal of the Royal Humane Society for jumping overboard and rescuing a seaman who had fallen from H.M.S. Fawn off the Cape of Good Hope. Lawrence was invalided home from the China station, after five years service there. He was later given the command of the training ship Eagle, on the Mersey. On his retirement from the Royal Navy he returned to Launceston where April 17th, 1890 he married Edith Gifford, elder daughter of Mr. G. M. Gifford. They set up home at 1, Tamar Terrace, Launceston.
Lawrence was a regular member of St. Mary Magdalene church being a secretary and treasurer of the church and Sunday school. He was also vice-president of the Men’s Bible Class and C.E.M.S.. He was made a J.P. for the local borough bench and for many years had served on the Board of the Launceston Guardians, and was chairman of the House Committee. He also served on the committee of the South Western Poor-law Conference. In an official capacity he was also connected with the Launceston Infirmary and Rowe Dispensary, the Savings Bank, the Cottage Garden Society, Launceston Tennis Club, and the Income-tax Commissioners. At the formation of the the Launceston Auxiliary Hospital in 1915, he served as the local correspondent.
Lawrence died on November 17th, 1915 at his home. The funeral was held on the following Saturday, the 20th, at St. Mary Magdalene Church with the Rev. Canon Lewis and Rev. T. N. Hart Smith-Pearse. Lawrence was interred in the family vault at St. Mary’s.