George Ord

George Ord (March 4, 1781 – January 24, 1866) was an American naturalist, ornithologist and writer.[1][2]

George Ord
George Ord, in Rhoads reprint.jpg
Born(1781-03-04)March 4, 1781
DiedJanuary 24, 1866(1866-01-24) (aged 84)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Resting placeGloria Dei Church cemetery
Scientific career
Fieldsnaturalist, ornithologist

Ord was born in Philadelphia. His father (also named George) was a rope maker and Ord joined him in the business, continuing after his father's death in 1806. In 1829 he retired from the business so that he could devote more time to science.[2]

In 1815 Ord became a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and two years later became a member of the American Philosophical Society. He went on to hold important positions in both. Ord received several of the specimens brought back by Lewis and Clark for description, including grizzly bear, black-tailed prairie dog and pronghorn.[2][3]

In 1824, Charles Lucien Bonaparte tried to get the then unknown John James Audubon accepted by the Academy but this was opposed by Ord who disliked Audubon's dramatic bird poses and considered him to be a "a back-country upstart who romanticized his subject matter," according to the Audubon Galleries.[4] He also felt that Audubon was trying to usurp the position of Alexander Wilson, although the latter had died in 1813.[1][2]

Ord was a friend and avid supporter of Wilson, accompanying him on several of his journeys. After Wilson's death he finished the eighth and ninth volumes of Wilson's American Ornithology. He issued a book on the life of Wilson in 1828 and published biographies of his fellow naturalists Thomas Say (1834) and Charles Alexandre Lesueur (1849). He also assisted in the enlargement of Samuel Johnson's dictionary and the first edition of Noah Webster's dictionary.

Ord is buried in Philadelphia not far from Wilson in Gloria Dei Church cemetery.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c Rhoads, Samuel N. (1908). George Ord. pp. 1–8.
  2. ^ a b c d e "George Ord Collection". American Philosophical Society.
  3. ^ Guthrie, W.; Ferguson, J. (1815). A New Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar and Present State of the Several Kingdoms of the World. 2. Philadelphia: Johnson & Warner. p. 308.
  4. ^, The Bonaparte Audubons

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