William Lawrence, lawyer, soldier, and legislator of the Republic of Texas, was born on April 16, 1808, according to one purported descendent, and about 1802 in New York City, according to another. If, as one authority speculates, he was the brother of Joseph Lawrence, a native of Buncombe County, North Carolina, and a participant in the battle of San Jacinto, he is the son of a William Lawrence of North Carolina. A number of men named William Lawrence lived in antebellum Texas, and their identities are now difficult to distinguish. The William Lawrence who later served as quartermaster at Galveston and congressman and senator in the Republic of Texas is perhaps the man whom Sam Houston recommended to United States secretary of war John C. Calhoun on April 5, 1824, as commissioner for laying the military road from Little Rock to Memphis. This William Lawrence, a resident of Memphis, wrote Houston, "is a man in every way capacitated for the situation." Lawrence, according to one descendent, was married in London, England, to a Mary Jane Fairweather, who died in Ipswich, England, in 1836. The nineteen-year-old English-born William Lawrence who was working as a carpenter in Galveston in 1850 was perhaps their son. A William Lawrence, perhaps the same, was later married to Clairsy Moody.
On July 3, 1836, quartermaster general Almanzon Huston appointed Lawrence quartermaster of Galveston with the rank of major. After establishing his office on the brig Pocket, Lawrence frequently quarreled with James Morgan, commandant of the post at Galveston, about discipline aboard the ship and was cautioned by Huston to "avoid all broils and be careful to do your duty as an officer." Lawrence purchased supplies for the Texas army at his own expense when government credit failed. In December 1836, for example, he spent $636.57 of his own money to buy provisions and supplies from the wreck of the schooner Senate. On October 30, 1836, he applied unsuccessfully to Gen. Mirabeau B. Lamar for the position of quartermaster general. He left the service late in 1838.
Lawrence was elected from Harrisburg to the House of Representatives of the Third and Fourth congresses (1838–40), in which he served on the Military, Judiciary, and Foreign Relations committees. On March 10, 1839, he applied to President Lamar for appointment as district attorney of the Second Judicial District. In 1842 he was elected to represent Harris, Galveston, and Liberty counties as a senator in the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth congresses (see CONGRESS OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS). In 1844 he was keeping a law office on Congress Street in Houston.
On June 30, 1852, a William Lawrence, formerly of Red River County, married Ann Davis in Austin. This Lawrence died in Austin on August 8, 1853. Another William Lawrence died on December 6, 1871, and another at Brownsville on August 17, 1850.