John Laird Mair Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence of the Punjaub, and of Grately (1811-1879)
A silver-mounted octagonal cornelian desk seal with turned ivory handle, 1868, 6.9cm. high, the seal cut with 'Sir John Lawrence, G.C.B., 1858' in decorative arabic script with intertwining flowers and foliage.
Provenance: Baron Lawrence; and by descent.
The personal seal of Sir John Lawrence, later the Viceroy of India. After having given distinguished service during the Indian Mutiny Sir John Lawrence returned to England to recover his health. Canning wrote 'Through him Delhi fell, and the Punjaub, no longer a source of weakness, became a source of strength. But for him the hold of England over Upper India would have had to be recovered at a cost of English blood and treasure which defies calculation. It is difficult to exaggerate the value of such ability, vigilance, and energy, at such a time'.
'On the death of Lord Elgin he received, and at once accepted, the offer of the viceroyalty of India. With one exception, no Indian civilian since Warren Hastings had permanently held the post, but the occurence of a threatening border war on the north-west frontier decided Lord Palmerston to depart from the unwritten rule. The appointment was made on 30 Nov. 1863; in ten days he was on his way to Calcutta' (DNB). That the five years of his viceroyalty were not marked by great events was in no small way due to his diplomatic and administrative abilities. He was able to concentrate on improving the infrastructure of the vast area over which he ruled in Queen Victoria's name, and it was a relatively prosperous India that he left in January 1869.