M’Laurin entered the navy after serving in the merchant marine. In 1762 he was employed on the Lisbon station as the master of the Hornet 10, Commander George Johnstone, and having been made prize-master of a captured French vessel he sailed to the Leeward Islands with news of the declaration of war with Spain, allowing Rear-Admiral George Rodney to launch a pre-emptive attack on their possessions.
He was commissioned lieutenant on 19 April 1779, and he commanded the Rattlesnake 12 in Commodore George Johnstone’s squadron off Portugal where he assisted the Tartar 28, Captain Alexander Graeme, take the Spanish frigate Santa Margarita 34 on 11 November. In May 1780, somewhat parallel to the events of 1762, he arrived in the Leeward Islands with intelligence gleaned from Commodore Johnstone at Lisbon for Admiral Sir George Rodney regarding the intentions of a Spanish fleet sent to the Caribbean.
As a reward M’Laurin was posted captain on 5 June 1780, and in November he assumed command of the Triton 28. He was present at the capture of St. Eustatius on 3 February 1781, at the Battle of St. Kitts on 25-26 January 1782, and had the same vessel at the Battle of the Saintes on 12 April.
M’Laurin died on 18 June 1792.