Friday, August 31, 2012

Better Than Fiction Guest Post: Hillari Delgado, "Trust and Faith"

We could never so have loved, had we not sorrowed together, and together found peace and joy in believing."  ~Honoria Lawrence

When I read that quote from today's real-life heroine, I loved Honoria. How real, how honest, how hopeful in her perspective of the tribulations she and her husband faced in their journey, side-by-side.

My friend Hillari Delgado returns to us today with the story of Honoria and Henry Lawrence. She has encapsulated two remarkable lives in less than 800 words... no small feat. Once you see her knack for short-story telling, you'll want to be sure to visit her facebook page for more information on two great short (fiction) stories you can enjoy online right now.

Here's what Hillari has to say about the Lawrences:

I grew to greatly admire both Honoria and Henry Lawrence.  (My first draft was over 2000 words, there is so much interesting and inspiring material!) They were truly outstanding individuals, and strong evangelical Christians.  Both of them were widely admired in their own lifetimes as being humble, humorous and kind, and their marriage was acknowledged as a love match and the finest example of what marriage could be.
Best of all, they shared a deep faith and trust in their Lord that inspired them to evangelize through their actions, as we would say today, by being Jesus to the world.

Trust and Faith:

Honoria Marshall Lawrence and Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence


Hillari DeSchane Delgado

Honoria Lawrence, Artist Unknown
“My darling wife will support herself and believe that He, Who brought us together, and has kept us midst many dangers and many partings, can and will protect us still. May we both trust in our Saviour and endeavour to show our trust by our conduct."  Letter from Henry Lawrence to his wife Honoria. (1)

The young couple must have been perspiring freely as they repeated their vows in the muggy dimness of the Mission Church.  It was summer in Calcutta, after all.  But on that August day in 1837, Henry Lawrence and Honoria Marshall were burdened by more than the tropical heat and wedding day nerves.  Henry, a rising young administrator for the East India Company, knew this year’s drought was the worst on record; thousands of lives were depending on the decisions he would make in the coming months. (2)  For Honoria, there was the daunting prospect of making a home and raising a family under punishing conditions and a truly terrifying infant and childbirth mortality rate.

            The seventeen-year marriage of Henry Lawrence and Honoria Marshall Lawrence has been called ‘spectacularly successful.’(3)  Henry, later Sir Henry, became one of the most admired and beloved public servants of the Empire.  Peers, family and friends credited Honoria’s unselfish love, unfailing good humor and selfless support as instrumental in Sir Henry’s achievement.   Both Henry and Honoria Lawrence were individuals of the highest caliber.  But the secret to their success lay in something far outside and beyond their personal qualities.  Their bedrock-deep faith in God supported, sustained and inspired both Henry and Honoria Lawrence through experiences that would have, and regularly did, crush individuals, annihilate careers and shatter marriages.

Henry Lawrence, Engraving after
unknown photographer
In Honoria, Henry found the ideal helpmeet.  Biographer Frederick Gibbon called her, “brave and noble…the inspiring genius of her husband's higher life, the glad sharer of his every thought.”(4)  The wife of one of Henry’s protégés wrote of Honoria’s influence on others: “Hers was a mind that loved the wildness, and rejoiced in the unconventionality of the life; and her room was the natural rallying-point of all the wit and talent that was among them."(5)

Their faith was much tested.  After their second child died, Honoria wrote, We could never so have loved, had we not sorrowed together, and together found peace and joy in believing.  How little can we guess the shape in which blessings are to come.  Since we were called on to part with our daughter ... I have now the full knowledge that my own husband is the faithful and humble servant of his God and Saviour.”(6)  During the First Afghan War, Honoria wrote to Henry, “It would be my pride and delight to think that you were even a better soldier since you had a wife and son; and God forbid I should throw any obstacle in your road."(7)  

Both Henry and Honoria Marshall were known for their humility, and their courtesy to all, native and European alike. The Lawrences’ attitude was not common among their peers in the Raj.  Henry “was often unpopular with higher authorities due to his insistence that government should pay most attention to the welfare of the Indian population.” (8)  Honoria saw how easily newly-arrived Englishwomenpersuade themselves that the annoyances, which arise from the fact of ourselves and those around us being only human beings, are exclusively Indian.”(9)   However, Henry’s high standards of personal honesty gained him such great ‘iqbal’ or renown that in later years the mere report that Sir Henry was on his way often convinced provincial rulers to settle their disputes without bloodshed. (10)
At Honoria’s death in 1854, Henry wrote to their sons, “I prayed for the last time by her side…prayed that her pure spirit might be around you and me, to guide us to good and shield us from evil. . . . Remember her with love and show your love by your acts.  Few boys ever had such a mother." (11)

            Sir Henry died in 1857. On his deathbed he asked forgiveness of those "whom he thought he had ever, though unintentionally, injured, or even spoken harshly to.”(12)   At his request, his marker says simply, ‘Here lies Henry Lawrence, who tried to do his duty.’ (13)

            The History of the Church Missionary Society says of Henry Lawrence, his brother John, and by implication, Honoria: ‘The Lawrences…present the one conspicuous instance in Indian history of a body of British rulers and officers going to work definitely as Christian men . . . confessing
Christ before the world."
Hillari DeSchane Delgado serves up historical Romantic Suspense ‘with a side of wry.’ Whether Regency or Victorian, her witty heroines and endearing heroes take murder and romance seriously, but never themselves. Hillari is the author of pending novels When in Rome and The Warlock of Windermere. Her research for work in progress Traitor of the Taj uncovered the story of Annette and Henry Beveridge. She would love to chat on Twitter @HillariDelgado and can be found at her brand new author page on Facebook. View her boards on Pinterest: Traitor of the Taj, Victoriana, and Regency Revealed.

**If you have an idea for a Friday "Better Than Fiction: Real Historical Romance Tales" Feature (historical moments/lives that show God's hand weaving lives and paths together through the ages. Can be the story of a couple, or simply an important historical moment testifying to God's love, perfect plan, and grace.), visit this post for criteria and submission details.**

(1)   Gibbon, Frederick.  The Lawrences of the Punjab. London, J.M. Dent and Co., 1908; online text courtesy The Library of the University of California at Riverside.  


(3)   McMillan, Margaret. Women of the Raj: the Mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the British Empire in India.  Random House Trade Paperbacks 2007.

(4)   The Lawrences of the Punjab.

(5)   Women of the Raj.

(6)   The Lawrences of the Punjab.

(7)   Women of the Raj.

(8)   Ibid.

(9)   Ibid.

(10)           The Lawrences of the Punjab.

(11)           Ibid.

(12)           General Wheeler, ‘The Life of Sir Henry Lawrence,’ quoted in Gibbon, The Lawrences of the Punjab.

(14)           Anon., The History of the Church Missionary Society, quoted in Gibbon, The Lawrences of the Punjab.



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