During the First Sikh War of 1845 to 1846, Lawrence organized the supplying of the British army in the Punjab and became Commissioner of the Jullundur district, serving under his brother, the Governor of the province.
In 1849, following the Second Sikh War, he became a member of the Punjab Board of Administration.
As Viceroy, Lawrence pursued a cautious policy, avoiding entanglement in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf.
In domestic affairs, he increased educational opportunities for Indians, but at the same time limited the use of native Indians in high civil service posts.
He established High courts at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay in 1865.
He passed the Punjab Tenancy Act (1868).
War was fought with Bhutan in 1864.