Vendenayagum Lawrence petitioned the Natal Governor on 3 August 1907 for exemption from such laws as the Franchise Law Amendment Act, Fire Arms Act and Liquor Act, which affected Indians adversely. In the memorial, reproduced here, he enumerates the reasons. The request was turned down, considerable though Lawrence's achievements were. The laws from which he sought exemption imposed disabilities upon Indians as a group, regardless of class, caste or creed. Source: G.H.1186, 5640/1907, Natal Archives.
Your petitioner is a passenger from India, resident in the borough of Durban, and is anxious to obtain a letter of exemption declaring him exempt from the operation of the laws affecting Indians and with this object furnishes the following particulars for your Excellency's information and favourable consideration.
1. Your petitioner's full name is Vedenayagum Lawrence and the place of birth is George Town, Madras, India.
2. Your petitioner is thirty-three years of age and resides at 27 Mansfield Road, Berea, Durban.
3. The length of time he has resided in the Colony is twelve years and four months.
4. His trade or calling is attorney's clerk.
5. Your petitioner was married by the Very Rev. Father W. P. Murray O.M.I. in St. Joseph's Church, West Street, Durban, on the 15th day of July 1901 to Josephine Gabriel and has three children the issue of the marriage, viz Mary Antonina aged 5 years and two months, Mary Sylvester aged three years and three months and Mary Dorothy aged 1 year and 1 month.
6. Your petitioner owns landed property in three counties in this Colony whose description is as follows:
(i) Two semi-detached cottages, land in extent 16.364 perches being remainder of subdivision A of lot 157 blockB, town lands of Durban, valued by the Corporation at £830.
(ii)Freehold land in extent 7 acres 1 rood 27.75 perches being the remainder of lot B of 97 of block 3, farm Sea View, county of Durban. All planted with fruit trees bought for £400 in November 1905 [,] building to the value of about £50.
(iii) Freehold land in extent one acre known as lot 27 of lot 4 of lot 15 on the river Umpambinyoni, county of Alexandra, price £50.
(iv) Freehold land in extent 1 rood being lot 1, subdivision S.K., of the Cato Manor estate, county of Durban, bought for £120, not transferred yet.
7. Your petitioner possesses movable property to the value of about £200.
8. Your petitioner and his family's mode of living and dressing is European.
9. Your petitioner was in the employ of Advocate M. K. Gandhi for over six years and has been in the employ of Advocate Leon Renaud for a like period.
10.Your petitioner is president of the Catholic Indian Young Men's Society, copy of whose fifth annual report he forwards for your Excellency's perusal.
11.Your petitioner is a burgess of the borough of Durban and exercises the municipal franchise.
12.Your petitioner has passed the Government middle school examination in Madras and has been a schoolmaster for over five years prior to coming to this Colony and is a trained teacher and holds certificates for it.
13.Your petitioner attaches hereto several testimonials as to his respectability and qualification.
14.Your petitioner has served in the Anglo-Boer War, was a leader of the Indian Volunteer Ambulance Corps and is the possessor of the Queen's South African War Medal.
15.Your petitioner has never been convicted of any treason, felony, or infamous offence.
16. Your petitioner, therefore, humbly prays that your Excellency will be graciously pleased to take this, his petition into favourable consideration and to grant his humble, but respectful prayer....