He was the seventh son and last child of William Lawrence and Jane Clarke. His father was a Cornish carpenter, who moved to London in and established a large and successful business in the Hoxton and South Bank areas.
The Lawrence family were some of the largest holders of real estate in the City of London. His brothers William Lawrence and Sir James Lawrence were Lord Mayors of London and also Members of Parliament.
In March 1886 he became a member of the Metropolitan Board of Works as one of the representatives of Shoreditch Vestry, an office previously held by his brother, Alfred. He held the seat until the board's abolition in 1889.
In 1895 he was elected MP for Truro in Cornwall. This was his fourth attempt to enter parliament, and he held the seat until 1906.
In 1898 he changed his surname to Durning-Lawrence, in honour of his wife's maternal grandfather, and was created 1st Baronet Durning-Lawrence, of King's Ride, Ascot, Berkshire in the same year.
Some details of his archives here 
- "Death Of Sir E. Durning-Lawrence. An Ardent Baconian". The Times: p. 10. 22 April 1914.
- ↑ ch 3, Rowe, Mortimer, B.A., D.D. The History of Essex Hall. London: Lindsey Press, 1959.
- ↑ "General News". Reynold's Newspaper. 21 March 1886.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 L. G. Pine, The New Extinct Peerage 1884–1971: Containing Extinct, Abeyant, Dormant and Suspended Peerages With Genealogies and Arms, London: Heraldry Today, 1972, p. 217 ISBN 0806305215