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Amos Lawrence

Birthdate: (66)
Birthplace: Groton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: December 31, 1852 (66)
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Major Samuel Lawrence (Continental Army) and Susanna Lawrence
Husband of Nancy Means and Sarah Richards
Father of Mary Means Lawrence; Mary Means Lawrence; Robert Means Lawrence; William Richards Lawrence; Susanna Lawrence and 1 other
Brother of Luther Lawrence; William Lawrence; Susan Lawrence; Mary Woodbury; Abbott Lawrence and 2 others

Occupation: Merchant and Philanthropist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Amos Lawrence

Amos Lawrence, (22 April 1786, Groton, Massachusetts – 31 December 1852, Boston, Massachusetts) was an American merchant and philanthropist. He was the son of Samuel Lawrence, a Revolutionary War officer, and the founder of Groton Academy (now Lawrence Academy at Groton), where Amos was educated.

In 1799, Lawrence became a clerk at a country store in Dunstable, Massachusetts. In 1804 he moved to Boston and founded a dry-goods mercantile, which became extraordinarily successful. In 1830, Lawrence established a cotton factory in Lowell, Massachusetts, and soon afterward became very ill. He devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy.

From 1831 until his death he gave over $639,000 (in 1840s dollars) to charitable causes. To Williams College, he gave nearly $40,000; to Groton Academy, which later changed its name to Lawrence Academy to honor both Amos and his brother, William Lawrence, he gave over $20,000; to Wabash College, Kenyon College, and the theological seminary at Bangor, Maine, he also gave sizable sums.

His private donations were innumerable--so great that several rooms in his house were used as offices to coordinate them. Among other things, Amos Lawrence donated libraries to academic institutions, established a children's hospital in Boston, and gave $10,000 for the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument (Lawrence's father had fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill).

At his death, his fortune was estimated at $8,100,000, making him one of the richest men in the United States.

Amos Lawrence's brother, Abbott Lawrence, founded Lawrence, Massachusetts. His son, Amos Adams Lawrence, founded the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, was responsible for the founding of Lawrence, Kansas (thus its name) through his work with the New England Emigrant Aid Company, and also helped found Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. His grandson, Bishop William Lawrence, was the longtime Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts.


Amos Lawrence, (22 April 1786, Groton, Massachusetts – 31 December 1852, Boston, Massachusetts) was an American merchant and philanthropist. He was the son of Samuel Lawrence, a Revolutionary War officer, and the founder of Groton Academy (now Lawrence Academy at Groton), where Amos was educated.

In 1799, Lawrence became a clerk at a country store in Dunstable, Massachusetts. In 1804 he moved to Boston and founded a dry-goods mercantile, which became extraordinarily successful. In 1830, Lawrence established a cotton factory in Lowell, Massachusetts, and soon afterward became very ill. He devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy.

From 1831 until his death he gave over $639,000 (in 1840s dollars) to charitable causes. To Williams College, he gave nearly $40,000; to Groton Academy, which later changed its name to Lawrence Academy to honor both Amos and his brother, William Lawrence, he gave over $20,000; to Wabash College, Kenyon College, and the theological seminary at Bangor, Maine, he also gave sizable sums.

His private donations were innumerable--so great that several rooms in his house were used as offices to coordinate them. Among other things, Amos Lawrence donated libraries to academic institutions, established a children's hospital in Boston, and gave $10,000 for the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument (Lawrence's father had fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill).

At his death, his fortune was estimated at $8,100,000, making him one of the richest men in the United States.

Amos Lawrence's brother, Abbott Lawrence, founded Lawrence, Massachusetts. His son, Amos Adams Lawrence, founded the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, was responsible for the founding of Lawrence, Kansas (thus its name) through his work with the New England Emigrant Aid Company, and also helped found Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. His grandson, Bishop William Lawrence, was the longtime Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts.


Amos Lawrence was an American merchant and philanthropist.

He was the son of Samuel Lawrence, a Revolutionary War officer, and one of the founders of Groton Academy (now Lawrence Academy at Groton), where Amos was educated. Samuel was in turn descended from John Lawrence of Wissett in Suffolk, England, who was one of the first settlers of Groton.

In 1799, Amos Lawrence became a clerk at a country store in Dunstable, Massachusetts and a few months afterward was promoted to a variety store in Groton run by a Mr. Brazer. After the completion of his apprenticeship, in April 1807, Amos went to Boston with $20 of his savings. His employers there failed. Amos was appointed by the creditors to settle the firm's accounts, and after doing that to their satisfaction he rented a shop on Cornhill and founded a dry-goods establishment on his own account in December. In 1808, his brother Abbott entered his employ as chief clerk, and in 1814 became a partner in the firm, now called A. & A. Lawrence and later A. & A. Lawrence and Co. The firm continued until Amos's death and became the greatest wholesale mercantile house in the United States. It was successful even in the hard times of 1812-1815, and afterwards engaged particularly in selling woolen and cotton goods on commission.

The firm did much for the establishment of the cotton textile industry in New England. In 1830, it came to the aid of financially distressed mills of Lowell, Massachusetts. In that year, the Suffolk, Tremont and Lawrence companies were established in Lowell, and Luther Lawrence, the eldest brother, represented the firm's interests there. In 1845-1847, the firm established and built up Lawrence, Massachusetts, named in honour of Abbott Lawrence, who was a director of the Essex Company, which controlled the water power of Lawrence, and afterwards was president of the Atlantic Cotton Mills and Pacific Mills there.

In 1831 when his health failed, Amos Lawrence retired from active involvement in the firm, where thereafter Abbott Lawrence was the head. The later years of Amos's life were spent mostly in furthering various philanthropic enterprises. According to his records, from 1829 until his death, Amos Lawrence gave over $639,000 (in 1840s dollars) to charitable causes. In 1842, he decided not to allow his property to increase any further, and in the last eleven years of his life he spent in charity at least $525,000. To Williams College, he gave nearly $40,000; to Groton Academy, which later changed its name to Lawrence Academy to honor both Amos and his brother, William Lawrence, he gave over $20,000; to Wabash College, Kenyon College, and the theological seminary at Bangor, Maine, he also gave sizable sums.

His private donations were numerous, requiring several rooms in his house to coordinate them. Among other things, Amos Lawrence donated libraries to academic institutions, established a children's hospital in Boston, and gave $10,000 for the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument (Lawrence's father had fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill). He gave to many good causes on a smaller scale, taking especial delight in occasionally giving books from a bundle in his sleigh or carriage as he drove.

Upon his death in 1852, his fortune was estimated at $8,100,000—roughly $233 million in today's dollars.

The family firm, with Lawrence's brother Abbott Lawrence at its head, founded Lawrence, Massachusetts. Amos's son, Amos Adams Lawrence, founded the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, was responsible for the founding of Lawrence, Kansas (thus its name) through his work with the New England Emigrant Aid Company, and also helped found Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. His grandson, Bishop William Lawrence, was the longtime Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts.

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Amos Lawrence's Timeline

1786
April 22, 1786
Groton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
1812
May 3, 1812
Age 26
Brookline, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
1814
July 31, 1814
Age 28
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
1817
May 23, 1817
Age 31
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
1823
April 15, 1823
Age 36
Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA
1823
Age 36
1826
September 17, 1826
Age 40
Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA
1852
December 31, 1852
Age 66
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States