Samuel Hill Lawrence VC

b. 22/01/1831 Cork, Ireland. d. 17/06/1868 Montevideo, Uruguay.

Samuel Hill Lawrence (1831-1868) was born on 22nd January 1831 in Cork, Ireland. His father, also called Samuel Hill, had a military career in the 32nd Regiment of Foot and was wounded at Quatre Bras, the prelude to Waterloo. The Lawrence family formed part of the ‘Protestant Ascendancy’ in Ireland. Lawrence Snr. may have been master of the Orange Lodge at Nenagh around the year 1825 and is recorded as living at Belmont Cottage, Douglas, near Cork, Ireland in 1837. His mother, Margaret Macdonald, was of Scots origin.

Samuel H Lawrence VC

He decided to join the armed forces from a young age, and aged just 16, he was gazetted into the 32nd Regiment of Foot (later Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) as an Ensign on 12th December 1847. He served with his regiment in the Punjab Campaign of 1848-49, including the second siege operations at Mooltan, including the storming and capture of the city and surrender of the fortress. He was also present at the surrender of the fort and garrison at Cheniste and the Battle of Gujarat (earning the campaign medal and clasp). He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 22nd February 1850.

Lieutenant Lawrence saw service throughout the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, commanding the Headquarters of the 32nd Regiment at the evacuation of Fort Muchee Bhawan on 1st July 1857, and then from that date has engaged in the defence of the Residency of Lucknow until its final relief on the 24th November by Lord Clyde, during the greater part of which he commsnded the Redan Battery. During this period, Lawrence was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Victoria Cross (London Gazette 22nd November 1859) for two separate actions at Lucknow. On 7th July 1857, Lawrence led a sortie against a strong house of the enemy, and was the first man to mount a ladder and enter the window of the house. Then later, on the 26th September, he charged with two of his men in front of his company to capture a 9 pounder gun.  Lawrence was promoted to Captain and was given the Brevet of Major on 24th March 1858.

Lawrence was presented with his VC by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 4th January 1860. Lawrence remained in the army for a short period following the Mutiny, ending his career as a Major. Lawrence had the distinction of being the cousin of Thomas Cadell VC. Lawrence died on 17th June 1868 at the age of just 37 in Montevideo, Uruguay. He was originally buried in the Old British Cemetery but is now interred in the British Cemetery in Montevideo. His medals are held by the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry Museum, Bodmin, Cornwall