A British name. Capt. John Lawford commanded HMS Polyphemus during the Battle of Copenhagen 2 April 1801.
DE-516 was laid down by Boston Navy Yard 9 July 1943; launched 13 August 1943; transferred to the United Kingdom under lend lease 3 November 1943; and commissioned as Lawford the same day. As one of 78 “Captain” class destroyer escorts, she served the Royal Navy in the Atlantic prior to the invasion of Europe. She supported the Normandy invasion 6 June 1944, and was bombed and sunk off Juno Beach while supporting landings 8 June 1944.
James Lawrence, born in Burlington, N.J., 1 October 1781 and entered the Navy as Midshipman, 4 September 1798. After service in frigates Ganges and Adams, he became first lieutenant of schooner Enterprise. On 2 June 1803 he put off from Enterprise as second in command of David Porter’s expedition in seven small boats and rowed for the shore of Tripoli where more than a thousand enemy had drawn up behind a barricade of 12 craft and shore structures. Musket fire from five of the American boats kept the enemy at bay while the other two went among the enemy craft and set them ablaze. They returned to their warships some 2 hours later without the loss of a life during the daring attack on the enemy’s shore. Lawrence was second in command under Stephen Decatur in the expedition to burn captured frigate Philadelphia in ketch Intrepid, 16 February 1804.
During the years that followed he commanded Gunboat Number 6, Vixen, Wasp, and Argus. He sailed for Europe as commander of Hornet in the fall of 1811 and returned the following May with the last dispatches from England before the declaration of war, 19 June 1812. Three days later he took Hornet to sea with the squadron of Commodore John Rodgers which took seven prizes including a privateer captured by Hornet offthe banks of Newfoundland on 9 July 1812. He next set sail on 27 October in company with Commodore Bainbridge in frigate Constitution for the coast of South America. He blockaded British sloop-of-war Bonne Citoyenne at Salvador (now Bahia), offering every challenge to get her out of the harbor for a fight until 24 January 1813 when 74-gun British ship Montagu made an appearance. Escaping the latter antagonist in the dark of night, he cruised northward off Pernambuco where he captured the brig Resolution. Off the mouth of the Demerara River 10 days later, he fought British brig Peacock forcing her to strike her colors, but she rapidly sank. Lawrence returned home 19 March, was promoted to captain as of 3 March 1813, and took command of Chesapeake at Boston harbor on 20 May.
On 1 June 1813 he sailed out to meet the challenge of the 38-gun British frigate Shannon. After a furious exchange of broadsides at pistol shot range for some 12 minutes, his sails were destroyed as he passed broadside and Chesapeake fouled her mizzen rigging with the Shannon’s fore chains. Unable to answer her helm, she was helpless before a raking fire. Lawrence was mortally wounded but spent his ebbing strength urging his men to “Fight her till she sinks!” and “Don’t give up the ship!”
(Brig: t. 364; lbp. 109'9"; dph. 13'3"; cpl. 80; a. 2 32-pdrs., 8 32-pdr. car.)
The second Lawrence was launched by Langley B. Culley at Baltimore 1 August 1843, and commissioned 19 September 1843, Comdr. William H. Gardner in command.
The new brig sailed to Norfolk Navy Yard 11 October 1843 to be armed and provisioned and got underway 16 November for the South Atlantic. After cruising along the northern coast of South America, the old “Spanish Main”, Lawrence returned to Pensacola, Fla., 25 January 1844. Sailing for her second cruise south 5 February, the brig visited Havana, Cuba, then turned north, and arrived at Hampton Roads 8 March for repairs and refitting in the Norfolk Navy Yard.
As war clouds gathered over the United States and Mexico, Lawrence sailed 14 June to join the Home Squadron at Pensacola and spent the next year cruising the gulf coast trying to help preserve the peace. As tensions between the two countries neared the breaking point, Lawrence took station off the Mexican coast. War broke out after the opposing armies clashed in Texas 25 April 1846.
On station from 24 March 1846 to 17 June, Lawrence rendered valuable service protecting American shipping and attacking that of the enemy. On 27 March and 31 April, she landed part of her crew to protect Point Isabel. Relieved 17 June, Lawrence arrived Pensacola on the 25th, and subsequently sailed north, arriving New York 3 September.
Lawrence’s usefulness was limited by her deep draft which prevented operations in shallow coastal waters, and by her small cargo space for provisions, which ruled outlong cruises. She decommissioned 12 September 1846 and was sold at Boston later in the year.