Laurence was born at Lannesting, Shetland Islands.
He married Barbara Jamieson, (born at Unst, Shetland Islands in 1839) at Lannesting in 1860.
Altogether they had 15 children. The first 12 were born in the Shetlands & the last three in NZ.
They lost two at age 5 and a twin after two weeks & the other twin on the voyage to NZ.
The family came to NZ under the "Vogel" scheme in 1876, settling in Mauriceville, where Laurence became the 1st Headmaster of the local school.
Sir Robert Stout was his godfather.
After Barbara died, Laurence retired and moved to Levin where a married daughter & her husband lived. He was part of the Presbyterian Church community as the supeintendent of the Sunday School.
A grandson, William Wallace Ellerslie Johnstone (son of John Riddiford Johnstone) died of his wounds in WW1.