Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Ord, William Miller

ORD, WILLIAM MILLER (1834–1902), physician, born on 23 Sept. 1834 at Brixton Hill, was elder of the two sons of George Ord, F.R.C.S., of an old Border family, by his wife Harriet, daughter of Sir James Clark, a London merchant. After education at King's College school, where he distinguished himself in classics, he entered the medical school of St. Thomas's Hospital in 1852. There he soon came under the influence of (Sir) John Simon [q. v. Suppl. II], surgeon at the hospital and afterwards professor of pathology. They remained professional and personal friends to the end of their days. Ord graduated M.B. at London University in 1857. After being house surgeon, surgical registrar, and demonstrator of anatomy at St. Thomas' Hospital, he became lecturer on zoology and assistant physician and joint lecturer on physiology on 8 Sept. 1870; he was dean of the medical school (1876–87) and largely instrumental in its success. He was physician from 1877 until 1898, when he was elected consulting physician. In early life Ord had joined his father in general practice, but already in 1869, when he became M.R.C.P., had started as a consultant. In 1875 he became F.R.C.P., and proceeded M.D. of London in 1877.

Ord's name is intimately connected with the elucidation of the disease now known as myxœdema. In 1873 Sir William Gull [q. v.] described its symptoms in a paper 'on a cretinoid state supervening in adult life in women.' In 1877, in a contribution on myxœdema, a term proposed to be applied to an essential condition in the "cretinoid" affection occasionally observed in middle-aged women,' Ord showed that the essential cause of the disease was atrophy or fibrosis of the thyroid gland. The name myxœdema which has been adopted was based on the belief that there was an excess of mucin in the tissues; this, however, has been shown not to be constant throughout the disease. Ord was subsequently chairman of the committee of the Clinical Society of London appointed in 1883 to investigate the subject of myxœdema (report issued 1888), and gave the Bradshaw lecture at the Royal College of Physicians in 1898 'On Myxœdema and Allied Conditions.' He was a censor of the college in 1897-8.

Ord was a clinical teacher of the first rank, a busy consultant, and extremely active in medical life in London. He was secretary of the committee which prepared the second edition of the official 'Nomenclature of Diseases' issued by the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1880; in the following year he was secretary of the medical section of the International Medical Congress held in London, and in 1885 he was president of the Medical Society of London. He was also chairman of the committee of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society which drew up the 'Report on the Climates and Baths of Great Britain' (vol. i. 1895; vol. ii. 1902).

Failing health obliged him to give up practice and retire to the village of Hurstbourne Tarrant near Andover in 1900. He died at his son's house at Salisbury on 14 May 1902, and was buried there in the Lcmdon Road cemetery.

Ord married (1) in 1859 Julia, daughter of Joseph Rainbow of Norwood; she died in 1864, leaving two daughters and one son; (2) Jane, daughter of Sir James Arndell Youl [q. v. Suppl. II]. There were two daughters by the second marriage.

Ord edited the collected works of Dr. Francis Sibson [q. v.]. He published 'Influence of Colloid upon Crystalline Forms and Cohesion' (1879) and 'On some Disorders of Nutrition related with Affections of the Nervous System' (1885), and made many contributions to current medical literature. He also took a keen interest in natural history, as may be seen in his oration to the Medical Society in 1894, entitled 'The Doctor's Holiday.'

[St. Thomas's Hosp. Rep. 1902, xxxi. 349; Lancet, 1902, i. 1494; information from his son, W. W. Ord, M.D.]

H. D. R.