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History of Elder John Lawrence

A brief summary of important events in the life of Elder John Lawrence.

Research has not yet conclusively revealed the exact date or place of Elder John Lawrence's birth. DAR records indicate that he was born about 1739 in Connecticut which conflicts with the history of the Meadow Creek Church (Montgomery County, VA) which gives his age as 80 at his death in 1801 (yielding a birth date of around 1721).

Elder John Lawrence was a minister in several Baptist churches throughout his life. The first record of his preaching was in private homes and school houses. In 1770 he formally organized a church at the house of Zaccheus Newcomb. On 13 Nov 1782 Elder John established another Baptist church in Fishkill, NY "composed of eight males and ten females."

According to the Revolutionary War Pension Application of his son William, after the Revolutionary War Elder John moved with his family to Montgomery County, VA. On 27 Sep 1785 Elder John was licensed to perform marriages in Montgomery County so we know his arrival in Virginia was sometime prior to this date. He acquired several hundred acres of land along Meadow Creek. This land is near Radford, VA with Interstate 81 crossing part of what was once Elder John's property.

Elder John ministered at the Meadow Creek church. It is not clear if this church was already in existence prior to his arrival or if Elder John and others who moved to the area established it. "History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia" by Robert Baylor Semple says this about the congregation.

"Meadow Creek was formed partly out of the members who moved hither from the state of New York and partly of natives. Reverend John Lawrence became their pastor. He had been a minister for many years in the state of New York; was an eminent servant of Christ and a pious and sensible man. His labors were not very much blessed after he moved to Virginia. Some disturbance happening in the church and Mr. Lawrence being obviously in dotage, was rather indiscreet in espousing one of the parties so as to give some discontent to the body of the church, in consequence of which, added to his incapacity through dotage and infirmities, the church dismissed him from his pastoral charge. Soon after he was taken ill and God dismissed him to the church triumphant. He was 80 years old when he died." 

Elder John's will was written and signed on 20 Feb 1801. His wife Levinah along with several of his children and sons-in-law are named in the will. He passed away sometime prior to the October session of the Montgomery County court when his will was probated.

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