George Ord; Naturalist, Ornithologist, Writer
Last month we featured George Ord, Sr. a sea captain and rope maker. This month we’ll feature his son George. The following information is from the American Philosophical Society.
Although George Ord was a devoted naturalist, ornithologist, and writer, he is also noted for his animosity towards famous ornithologist John James Audubon, who he called a “impudent pretender” and “neither a scholar nor philosopher.” He became interested in the study of science and literature at an early age. Following in his father’s footsteps, Ord joined his father in his rope-making business in 1800 and continued in the business after his father’s death in 1806, finally retiring from the business in 1829 to devote more time
Shortly after his first marriage, Ord befriended the Scottish poet and naturalist Alexander Wilson, who became one of his greatest influences. Wilson died in 1813 leaving Ord to finish the eighth volume of Wilson’s greatest work, American Ornithology. One year later, Ord published the ninth and final volume of this great work. Besides writing the Sketch of the Life of Alexander Wilson, Ord wrote memoirs on the lives of fellow naturalists Thomas Say and Charles A. Lesueur. He also contributed numerous articles that appeared in many of the scientific periodicals of the day, including the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, and the Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
In 1815, Ord became a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Two years later Ord became a member of the American Philosophical
Society, serving as secretary, vice president, librarian, treasurer, and councilor. He later served as president of the ANS from 1851 to 1858, a position that he “never sought after.” He resisted the position because of his age and “infirmities,” and his “habits of retirement,” which had rendered him “averse to company and the turmoil of life.” Moreover, Ord plunged further into the life of a recluse with each passing year. Ord’s health was not always well, he suffered from poor eyesight, regular bouts of Influenza, and various attacks on his health. Ord died on January 24, 1866 and is buried at Gloria Dei.
(Riverside, October 2008)