Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Orr, Hugh

ORR, HUGH (1717–1798), inventor, son of Robert Orr of Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, was born at Lochwinnoch on 13 Jan. 1717. Brought up to the trade of a gunsmith and door-lock filer, at the age of twenty he emigrated to America, and in June 1740 he settled at Bridgewater, in Massachusetts, where he manufactured scythes and edge-tools. He set up the first trip-hammer ever constructed in Massachusetts, and he succeeded in spreading the manufacture of edge-tools through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. In 1748 he made five hundred muskets for the province of Massachusetts Bay, believed to have been the first weapons of the kind produced in the country. During the revolution he was actively employed in casting iron and brass cannon and cannon-balls, for which, in conjunction with a Frenchman, he constructed a foundry. He also originated the business of exporting flax-seeds from the part of the country in which he resided. He was the inventor of a machine for cleaning flax-seed, and another for the manufacture of cotton. For several years he was a senator for Plymouth county. He died at Bridgewater on 6 Dec. 1798. His son Robert, a colonel, was armourer of the United States arsenal at Springfield.

[Appleton's Cyclop. of American Biogr. iv. 592; Drake's Dict. of American Biogr.; Anderson's Scottish Nation.]

G. S-h.