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Lawford
William Lawford
Medium: Television, Book
Nationality: English
Rank: Lieutenant, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel
Appearances: Sharpe's Tiger, Eagle, Gold, Company, Regiment
Actor: Martin Jacobs & Benedict Taylor
The Honourable William Lawford first appearing in Sharpe's Tiger as a Lieutenant in the 33rd Regiment of Foot. He volunteered to go behind enemy lines playing a deserter to find his uncle Hector McCandless, but said he would only attempt it with the company of Private Richard Sharpe, in whom he saw something. It was this insistence, that Sharpe accompany him which saved the private from death by flogging. He was reprieved after 202 lashes of a 2,000 lash sentence in order to report to the commander. Sharpe agrees to Lawford's plan on condition he gets a sergeant's stripes should they succeed.

Lawford is the same age as Sharpe, but an elegant dandy, monied, fashionable, aristocratic, representing everything Sharpe hates about the officer class - except Sharpe likes him, and does what he can to keep Lawford alive. Lawford learns what it is to be a true soldier from Sharpe, "God, you're ruthless" (Sharpe's Tiger). They forged a friendship that surpassed rank and class while in the dungeons of the Tippoo where Lawford and his uncle, Hector McCandless, teach Sharpe how to read and write using a single page from Revelations Lawford had secreted in his pocket. After the defeat of the Tipoo, the two men are separated by the vagaries of the British Army.

They meet again in Spain in 1809 when Sharpe is a Lieutenant and Lawford is a Lieutenant Colonel on Wellington's staff. In Sharpe's view, despite Lawford's finery, he is a fighting soldier, and has his respect. After Sir Henry Simmerson disgraces himself by losing his colours, and Sharpe was gazetted captain of the South Essex Light Company, Lawford was chosen to explain the politics that would be brought to bear - the making of Sharpe as a scapegoat. At Talevera, Lawford takes command of the South Essex after Simmerson's disgraceful withdrawal from the line of battle. Promoted to Colonel, the Regiment was his.

After Talevera, he commissioned a new regimental badge which he wore on his sash, and he had versions for the men to wear on their shakos, a badge that now depicted an eagle in chains, commemorating the actions of Sharpe, Harper, and the Light Company.

In Sharpe's Company, Lawford is gravely wounded, and loses an arm at Ciudad Rodrigo. He is repatriated to England, and the South Essex changes commands again.

Sharpe did not see Lawford again until he became embroiled in Lord Fenner's crimping operation in Sharpe's Regiment. With a mind to his own political future, and Sharpe's advancement free of political enemies, Lawford tried to extricate Sharpe as gently from the situation as he thought he could and still avoid scandal.

He appeared in the television movies Sharpe's Rifle, Eagle, Company and Regiment played by two separate actors.