Open main menu


ORD, Sir HARRY St. GEORGE (1819–1885), major-general royal engineers, colonial governor, son of Captain Harry Gough Ord, royal artillery, and of his wife, Louisa Latham of Bexley, Kent, was born at North Cray, Kent, on 17 June 1819. He was educated privately at Woolwich, and entered the Royal Military Academy there in 1835. He received a commission as second lieutenant in the corps of royal engineers on 14 Dec. 1837, and went through the usual course of professional instruction at Chatham. Promoted lieutenant on 27 May 1839, he was quartered at Woolwich and afterwards in Ireland. In January 1840 he was sent to the West Indies, where he remained for the next six years. He returned home in December 1845, and was stationed at Woolwich for a year, and then at Chatham. On 29 Oct. 1846 he was promoted second captain.

In December 1849 Ord was sent on special duty to the west coast of Africa and the island of Ascension, returning to England in September 1850, when he was again employed at Chatham. He received the thanks of the board of admiralty for his report and recommendations with reference to naval works at the island of Ascension. On 1 Jan. 1852 he was appointed adjutant of the royal engineers at Chatham. He was promoted first captain on 17 Feb. 1854, but continued to hold the appointment of adjutant until July, when he was appointed brigade-major of the royal engineers under Brigadier-general (afterwards Sir) Harry David Jones [q. v.] in the combined French and English expedition to the Baltic. Ord was present at the siege and capture of Bomarsund, and was mentioned in despatches. He received the war medal and was promoted brevet-major on 8 Sept. 1854. On his return to England he was quartered at Sheerness.

In November 1855 Ord's services were placed at the disposal of the colonial office, and he was sent as a commissioner on a special mission to the Gold Coast, returning in May 1856. From June to October in 1856, and again from February to May 1857 (the interval being occupied with military duty at Gravesend), he was employed in Holland and France to assist the British minister at the Hague and the British ambassador in Paris in negotiations respecting the Netherlands' and French possessions on the west coast of Africa. On the completion of this duty he returned again to Gravesend.

On 2 Sept. 1857 Ord was appointed lieutenant-governor of the island of Dominica in the West Indies, and he assumed the government on 4 Nov. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 28 Nov. 1859. In April 1860, while in England on leave of absence, he was offered the government of the Bermudas, and was gazetted to the appointment on 16 Feb. 1861, assuming the government the following month. In January 1864 he returned home on leave of absence, was promoted brevet-colonel on 28 Nov., and was sent to the west coast of Africa as commissioner on special service under the colonial office in connection with disturbances with the Ashantis. He returned to England in March 1865. On 9 Oct. he was made a C.B., and the same month he resumed the government of the Bermudas. He finally left the Bermudas in November 1866.

On 5 Feb. 1867 Ord was appointed the first colonial governor of the Straits Settlements, these possessions having up to that time been administered by the government of India. He was made a knight-bachelor, assumed the government on 1 April 1867, and was promoted major-general on 16 April 1869. His tenure of the government was, by the desire of the colonial office, extended beyond the usual time, and he remained at Singapore until November 1873.

Ord's health had suffered from service in tropical climates, and for the next four years he remained unemployed. He was made a K.C.M.G. on 30 May 1877, having in April of that year been appointed governor of South Australia. In 1879, having completed the full term as colonial governor, he retired on the maximum pension, and lived at Fornham House, near Bury St. Edmunds. On 24 May 1881 he was made a G.C.M.G. He took considerable interest in the Zoological Society of London, of which he was an honorary fellow, and presented it with many animals from the various places in which he served. Ord died suddenly of heart-disease at Homburg on 20 Aug. 1885. He was buried in the churchyard of Fornham St. Martin, and a tablet to his memory has been placed in the church. A village institute was also erected at Fornham St. Martin in his memory by his friend, the sultan of Johore.

Ord married in London, on 28 May 1846, Julia Graham, daughter of Admiral James Carpenter, R.N., by whom he had three sons: Harry St. George, who settled in Australia; William St. George, retired captain royal engineers, of Fornham; and St. John St. George, a retired major of the royal artillery.

Ord was a popular governor. A three-quarter-length portrait of him was painted for the Chinese merchants of the Straits Settlements, and is now at Singapore. There is also a portrait of him in the chamber of the Legislative Council of Bermuda.

Ord contributed to the ‘Professional Papers of the Corps of Royal Engineers’ (new ser. vol. iv.) papers entitled ‘Experiments on the Penetration of Bullets’ and ‘Experiments with 5½-inch Shells.’

[Royal Engineers Corps' Records; War Office and Colonial Office Records; private sources.]

R. H. V.