Percy Laurence

Obituary from Essex Review, Volume 30, 1921, p.182
“Percy E. Laurence, J.P., of the Grove Witham, who died in a London nursing home after an operation, on 24 May, was a man than whom no-one of his district was better loved. He was born at Clapham Park, Surrey, son of Sydney Laurence, was educated at Harrow, and came in 1874 to Witham as a farming partner with the Hon C H Strutt, his lifelong friend. He gave up farming in 1883 on the death of a brother to join his fathr’s firm on the Stock Exchange. He married in 1881 Mary, daughter of the Rev C B Leigh, rector  of Goldhanger, and in 1896 purchased the Grove. He was made a JP of Essex in 1897. His local gifts were highly valued, among them being the site of the War Memorial, the Witham Cricket Ground, and the new Constitutional Club, built aftr the old one had been burnt down. Mr Laurence served as a Lieutenant to the Royal Suffolk Hussars from 1877 to 1884 and was Hon Colonel of the Essex Volunteers during th war. Mrs Laurence died some years ago. Two daughters are married, Miss Grace O Laurence, well known for her work during the war, was with her father at his death. The funeral was at Witham on 28 May.”

Assorted notes
From various sources in the past I have noted the following relating to Percy Laurence.

Essex Almanac, 1910
J.P.  Justice of Witham Petty Sessions
One of the Vice-Presidents of Essex County Bowling Association.
A Vice-President of the Old Age Relief Fund, Maldon Division.
President of the Constitutional Club, Witham.
President of Witham Town Band, formed 1902.
President of the Cricket Club of Witham.
A Vice-President of Witham Football Club.

Congregational Church records (ERO D/NC 3/32)
In 1909 he bought property previously the Witham Literary Institute, and in 1910 sold it to the Congregational church on condition there should be no building there.

1876? Bought part of the Park

ERO A10510
President of Witham Cricket Club before Dr Karl Gimson.
Gave ground for War Memorial.
Gave the new clock after the old one burnt down at the old Constitutional Club.

A search will no doubt reveal other references to him, for instance during the First World War. And also to his daughters, Grace and Madeleine. Grace, usually known as Gracie, organised the women farm workers during the First World War.

Some of my interviewees refer to the Laurences, for instance Mrs Amy Taylor, who lived as a child in the lodge at the top of the Avenue  (the Grove, the home of the Laurences, being at the bottom.) Amy’s father looked after the machinery at the Grove. See:

Tape 136. Mrs Amy Taylor (nee Burton), sides 1 and 2

I have never knowingly seen a photo of Percy Laurence but I have one of Gracie (M1865) (M149 is the same)





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