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!”
(No. 8: dp. 430; l. 246'3"; b. 22'3"; dr. 6'8"; s. 30 k.; cpl. 72; a. 2 3", 5 6 pdr., 2 18" tt.)
The third Lawrence was laid down 10 April 1899 by Fore River Ship & Engine Co., Weymouth, Mass.; launched 7 November 1900; sponsored by Miss Ruth Lawrence, great-niece of Capt. James Lawrence; and commissioned 7 April 1903, Lt. Andre M. Proctor in command.
Assigned to the 2d Torpedo Flotilla, Lawrence operated along the Atlantic coast, taking part in the fleet search problem off the New England coast during the summer of 1903. The torpedo boat departed Norfolk 17 December, and sailed to Key West for winter exercises.
During 1904 she performed Midshipmen cruises and acted as a torpedo practice ship, perfecting the quality of officers and increasing the Navy’s effectiveness. She continued exercises in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast until she decommissioned at Philadelphia 14 November 1906.
Lawrence recommissioned 23 July 1907 and resumed training operations out of Norfolk. Departing Hampton Roads 2 December, she sailed with the torpedo flotilla for winter maneuvers in the Caribbean and off South America. She arrived San Diego 28 April 1908 and stood off San Francisco 8 days later as the “Great White Fleet” steamed into San Francisco Bay. During the next 4 years she operated in the Pacific with the 3d Torpedo Flotilla patrolling the coast from Canada to Panama and engaged in exercises with the fleet. From 1 June 1912 to 23 April 1914 Lawrence was in commission in reserve.
Returned to full commission status, she departed San Francisco 25 April to patrol the Mexican coast and protect American and foreign nationals during the Mexican revolution. Returning to Mare Island 12 September, the destroyer was once again placed in reserve status.
After America’s entry into World War I, Lawrence was placed in full commission 13 June 1917 to join coastal defense units. Arriving Balboa 29 July, she guarded the ocean approaches to the Canal Zone until 30 May 1918 when she steamed toward Key West. Upon her arrival there she operated as coastal escort and patrol ship. After the Armistice ending World War I, Lawrence steamed to Philadelphia, arriving there 1 February 1919. She decommissioned 20 June and was sold to Joseph G. Hitner of Philadelphia 3 January 1920.