Thomas Robert Tighe Chapman (1846-1919)

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7th and last Chapman Baronet and father to T.E. Lawrence

Vital Statistics Edit

Biography Edit

As a younger son, it was expected that Chapman would run, rather than own, the family's estates, and from 1866 to 1868 he learnt about estate management at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. However, his elder brother, William Eden Chapman (1844–1870), an officer in the 15th The King's Hussars, died in May 1870, leaving Chapman as the heir. The third brother, Francis Vansittart Chapman, was then trained to manage the estates.

On 24 July 1873, Chapman married Edith Sarah Hamilton, daughter of G. A. Rochfort-Boyd JP DL of Middleton Park, County Westmeath, and they had four daughters, Eva Jane Louisa (born 1874), Rose Isabel (born 1878), Florence Livia (born 1880) and Mabel Cecele (born 1881).

In the late 1870s, the Chapmans took on as a governess a capable and cheerful young Scotswoman who was known as Sarah Lawrence. By this time, Edith Chapman had become zealously religious, subjecting members of her household to frequent prayer meetings and disapproving of many of their pleasures, while Chapman himself had become a heavy drinker. He fell in love with Sarah Lawrence, who was younger than he by some fifteen years. One of Chapman's daughters later recalled that her father usually had a dour manner, but whenever Sarah Lawrence entered a room, he became "all gay". Lawrence, who had been born on 31 August 1861 in Sunderland, County Durham, had been registered at birth under the surname of her unmarried mother, Elizabeth Junner, who at the time was working as a servant in the house of Thomas Lawrence, a Lloyd's surveyor, and his son John Lawrence is thought to have been Sarah Lawrence's father.

In 1885, Lawrence became pregnant. She went to live in rooms in Dublin which Chapman got for her, and in December 1885 a son was born and christened Montagu Robert. Chapman stayed with his wife, while seeing Lawrence and his son, until Edith Chapman found out what had happened (the Chapmans' butler, while in a Dublin grocer's shop, heard a young woman give her name as Mrs Thomas Chapman - he recognised the woman as Sarah Lawrence). He then left his wife to live with Lawrence. He took her to live at Tremadog, Caernarfonshire, now Gwynedd, North Wales, and their second illegitimate son, christened Thomas Edward and later known as Lawrence of Arabia, was born there in August 1888.The couple stayed only a short time in Tremadog, and soon moved on, to Kirkcudbright in Scotland, then to Dinard in Brittany, the Isle of Wight, and the New Forest, choosing places where their English neighbours were not of Chapman's class and were unlikely to recognise him. They had nine children altogether, but three of them died young, leaving five sons and a daughter who survived infancy. In 1896, still unmarried and going under the name of Mr and Mrs Lawrence, the couple arrived in Polstead Road, Oxford. The purpose of this move was largely to enable them to educate their sons, despite limited means.

Chapman lived a life of leisure and spent much of his time with his sons. He was a photographer, hunted, spoke good French, was interested in medieval architecture, taught his sons carpentry, and even in old age would quote from Homer and Horace. He bought smart new bicycles and liked to cycle long distances.

In 1914, Chapman succeeded his cousin Sir Benjamin Rupert Chapman, 6th Baronet (1865–1914), to the baronetcy. When he died on 8 April 1919, he was buried at Wolvercote.As he left no legitimate heir, the title became extinct.

Chapman's son T. E. Lawrence had already become world-famous, following the Arab Revolt of 1916. Another of his surviving sons, A.W. Lawrence (1900–1991) became notable as an archaeologist and art historian.

Sarah Lawrence lived into her late nineties, dying in 1959.

Children of Thomas Chapman and Edith BoydEdit

  1. Mabel Cecile Chapman (b1881) - born 1881 - (Westmeath Ireland Civil Register)
  2. Evan Jane Louise Chapman (b1874) - born 24 July 1874 - (Dublin Ireland Civil Register)
  3. Rose Isabel Chapman (b1878) - born 21 Oct 1878 - (Dublin Ireland Civil Register)
  4. Florence Lina Chapman (b1880) - born 5 Feb 1880 - (Dublin Ireland Civil Register)

Children of Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner Lawrence Edit

  1. Montagu Robert Lawrence (1885-1971) - Was a physician and medical missionary to China.
  2. Lt. Col Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) aka Lawrence of Arabia - war hero of the First World War
  3. William George Lawrence (1889-1915) - Died Childless in First World War (23 Oct 1915 ?)
  4. Frank Helier Lawrence (1893-1915) - Died Childless in First World War (9 May 1915 ?)
  5. Arnold Walter Lawrence (1900-1991) - noted archaeologist and art historian

References: Edit

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